Coming into the preseason, each quarterback had his defined role. Michael Vick would be the starter; Mike Kafka the developmental backup with a couple years in the system; and Nick Foles the rookie unknown who would watch and learn and hopefully show some promise. Edwards, struggling to complete balls to unguarded receivers in practice, was an afterthought.
What no one accounted for was how well Foles would perform. He has become the story of the preseason and has earned the No. 2 spot behind Vick. The 6-6 slinger has stolen not just the backup spot from the injured Kafka, but also the title of the primary developmental quarterback in the system. If the goal is now to not just serve as a viable emergency option but help shepherd Foles along, then Edwards might be the better choice.
Edwards and Foles share a similar backstory. Both were highly-acclaimed high school quarterbacks that played behind leaky offensive lines on the collegiate level and went through their share of trials and team disappointment as a result. Edwards, like Foles, was a third-round selection, taken by the Bills in 2007 out of Stanford. He quickly made his way up the depth chart and ended up making nine starts as a rookie because of injury.
The two got to know each other through a mutual friend prior to their time with the Eagles.
“I’ve been in his shoes, I’ve been there before. I know what he’s going through,” said Edwards. “We’ve spent pretty much 24 hours a day together. We’re roommates at the hotel, we’re roommates on the road. I’m just trying to be a positive presence to him and just trying to tell him some things that I went through that might benefit him come game time, and hopefully I’m rubbing off on him a little bit.”
The five-year veteran has done pretty well for himself in exhibition play. Through three preseason games he has completed 67 percent of his throws for 292 yards with a pair of touchdowns and a 96.9 quarterback rating. It is a surprise to those who watched him throw during OTA’s. Turns out, he was working through several mechanical changes. (A couple examples: The Eagles like their quarterbacks to be moving up in the pocket after their dropback; Edwards was accustomed to being stationary. This staff is also sticklers about footwork. There are specific methods for each throw, and Edwards was essentially tripping over himself early.)
“I feel like I have progressed,” said Edwards. “I feel like I know where guys are going, I know what I’m supposed to be doing with the football.
“This is a great offensive system to be in. That’s kind of the reason I came here, was to be coached by these guys and play with these guys in the locker room.”
The 6-4, 230-pounder spent four up-and-down years in Buffalo, had a short stint in Jacksonville and was picked up and then waived by the Raiders last year. According to a source, Edwards tried out for the Dolphins near the middle of the season last season but turned them down, as he was looking for a landing spot that could put his career back on a positive trajectory.
He’ll suit up at least one more time in an Eagles uniform, as he is scheduled to play the final three quarters against the Jets in the preseason finale Thursday. Then, Andy Reid and Howie Roseman will have to decide whether to go with Edwards or Kafka. Perhaps that game will help influence the decision, but more than likely the decision has been made.
At the very least, it’s an opportunity to put some more quality film out there for other coaches to see. Does Edwards, a reporter asked, have that in the back of his mind?
“Not at all,” he said. “I want to be here, that’s my goal, that’s the reason I came here. I want to be here.”
The shift in circumstance may give him his wish.