Michael Vick is currently questionable for the Philadelphia Eagles' Week 3 matchup with the New York Giants after suffering a concussion in Sunday night's loss to the Atlanta Falcons. While some sources within the team believe he will play in the game, the Eagles have to prepare for the possibility that their franchise's biggest star can't play.
With that in mind Philadelphia's fans should be ready just in case they have to cheer on Mike Kafka, who will almost certainly start in Vick's place.
Here are four things to expect if Kafka is under-center against the Giants on Sunday.
Third-year running back LeSean McCoy is currently fifth in the NFL with 217 rushing yards, and has already scored three touchdowns this season. The Pittsburgh product is averaging 6.6 yards per carry and has looked like he could be an emerging star in head coach Andy Reid's offense.
McCoy has also caught six passes out of the backfield for 36 yards and another touchdown, proving that he can be an asset through the air as well. His presence should take a lot of pressure off Kafka, who will certainly need to look for dump-off options.
Additionally, in what will be Kafka's first professional start, Reid is sure to load up with a lot of running plays, particularly early in the game. That will help settle Kafka down and hopefully get the Eagles moving the ball down the field without putting too much pressure on the kid.
The Eagles currently have the NFL's second-best rushing offense (184.5 yards per game). While a good portion of those yards have come by way of Vick's scrambling ability, Philadelphia still possesses an excellent running game. It should be fully on display against the Giants.
More than likely Reid will do whatever it takes to put receivers DeSean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin in one-on-one coverage with members of the Giants' secondary. The idea behind this won't be what it typically is—allowing them to burn the corners deep—it will be to allow Kafka to make quick reads and hit his top two targets on quick ins, outs or slants.
Plays like that would allow Kafka to get comfortable early, while ensuring he doesn't face too much pressure. A quick one or two read play before releasing the ball would also keep the inexperienced signal-caller from having to think too much, while still getting Jackson and Maclin involved.
Ensuring that the Eagles' top two receivers get the ball in their hands and are able to make plays is paramount to a win on Sunday. Reid will find a way to do it while keeping the pressure on Kafka relatively low.
With a rookie starting his first game under-center, the Giants will know exactly what they have to do. New York will certainly do whatever it can to pressure the 24-year-old Kafka, and will attempt to confuse him by switching coverages and blitzing from different spots.
The Giants only have six sacks as a team so far this season, and with their secondary extremely banged up they need to get pressure on the quarterback if they want to have any chance at winning games.
The Eagles didn't allow a sack against the Falcons, but did give up six quarterback hits. In Week 1 against the Rams, they surrendered three sacks and Vick was hit 11 times. Clearly the Eagles' offensive line can wilt under pressure.
Hitting Kafka and making him feel uncomfortable in the pocket will be a huge key for the Giants. And handling that pressure will likely determine whether or not Kafka can lead the Eagles to a win.
After a disappointing showing in Week 1 against the St. Louis Rams, Brent Celek finally looked like an important part of Philadelphia's offense Sunday night against the Falcons. The fifth-year tight end followed up a one-catch, 13-yard performance against the Rams with a four-catch, 43-yard game against the Falcons.
If the Giants do, indeed, bring a lot of pressure on Kafka, he'll likely be looking for Celek on quick, turnaround hot routes as soon as he sees blitzes coming. Celek, much like LeSean McCoy, will be an invaluable safety valve for the young quarterback.
Celek has been battling a back injury, but his MRI came back negative and he has been cleared to practice. While Kafka didn't target him at all after entering Sunday night's game, the tight end has always been an integral part of Reid's offense and he's sure to get Celek involved this weekend.