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Another QB Project For Eagles

Posted Feb 23, 2012

There have been a slew of them that have come across the bow of Andy Reid in his 13 seasons as the Eagles head coach, starting with Donovan McNabb, the second overall pick in the 1999 NFL draft ...

Quarterbacks have come to Philadelphia and have generally played their best football here. Another project has arrived.

The Eagles and veteran Trent Edwards agreed to terms on Thursday on a one-year contract, adding some depth to a position that has just about always been very well stocked since Reid was hired. Edwards looks the part at 6 feet 4 with a nice arm, quick feet, a sharp brain and great toughness.

For whatever reason, though, Edwards hasn't become the star quarterback many thought he would be when he played behind a so-so offensive line at Stanford, where Edwards began a career that landed welt after bruise after broken bone upon his career.

He was a third-round draft pick who broke into the starting lineup as a rookie in 2007. The Bills expected big things from Edwards, but from the time he became a starter to the time he was released in September of 2010, Edwards was just 14-18 in the win/loss column and he took a beating, both physically and emotionally.

The Edwards who came from Stanford having played only one full season was a prospect. This is the scouting analysis on Edwards prior to the 2007 draft, from SI.com ...

"Physically gifted with solid intangibles, Edwards has taken a beating the past three years and missed a significant amount of playing time. Could be a steal on the second day of the draft if he fine-tunes his game and stays healthy."

Edwards is now a suspect looking to resurrect his career. He's in the right place, healthy after a full season off to rehab a shoulder injury and mentally prepared for the challenge of an Eagles coaching staff that thrives on building quarterbacks.

McNabb became one of the greatest quarterbacks in franchise history after that 1999 draft, far outpacing a celebrated quarterback class that included flameouts like Tim Couch, Akili Smith and Cade McNown. Why did McNabb make it when others missed? Reid deserves credit for helping sculpt McNabb, and Koy Detmer, and A.J. Feeley and Jeff Garcia and Michael Vick and Kevin Kolb. There have been misses -- Mike McMahon was not productive in 2005 and Vince Young was not consistent enough outside of a huge road win over the Giants in 2011.

The track record is a good one for Reid and his coaching staff. The Eagles work their quarterbacks hard, make them accountable and do the little things that make such a big difference. Quarterbacks coach Doug Pederson has the responsibility for building Edwards' mechanics, improving his decision-making and helping Edwards advance beyond a style of play that has been labeled as tentative, at best.

Is it is possible that Edwards has just taken so much of a beating that his eyes have gradually lowered over the years in the face of a heavy pass rush? Instead of looking down the field, he sees the pass rush and holds on to the football and then takes a hit and, well, nothing good comes from that.

I saw it with Bobby Hoying in the late 1990's. Hoying starred for a minute at the end of the 1997 season and the Eagles put their future in his hands. Why not? Hoying was a big, strong kid who threw 11 touchdown passes and just 6 interceptions with six starts at the end of the season. He outdueled Boomer Esiason in a memorable win at Veterans Stadium. Heck, the Eagles had tee-shirts made (I still have one) with Hoying's image rising out of the Vet.

Hoying was the no-doubt-about it starter going into 1998. But the Eagles lost the opener 38-0 to Seattle and Hoying lasted for all of six starts. He had zero touchdown passes and 9 interceptions in the dreadful 3-13 season. And Hoying was never really heard from again.

Was it all on Hoying? No way. The Eagles' coaching staff was in shambles that year and the team was a disaster coming out of training camp. Hoying never had a chance playing behind a lousy offensive line with a coaching staff that was, truth be told, overmatched.

Now the Eagles have Edwards, who has not lived up to his abilities. He played in Buffalo when the Bills were really a very poor offensive team. Edwards played in three games with Jacksonville in 2010 and struggled. He signed with Oakland last July and was cut in early September, prior to the regular season opener.

And now he is an Eagle, set to do battle with Mike Kafka -- who has the advantage at this point -- for the No. 2 job behind Vick.

Something has to give with Edwards, who is clearly at a career crossroads. Once upon a time he was rated as the best pro-style quarterback in the country coming out of high school. Every major college wanted him, and Edwards chose Stanford for its blend of academics and an offense that was best compared with what teams in the NFL run.

So why has that Edwards become this Edwards, a young man still at age 28 who is scuffling along in the league trying to get his game on track, searching for his identity?

We're going to find out. The Eagles have their threesome at quarterback, the trio they will look to develop and improve individually and as a group in 2012. Will they add a fourth arm for training camp? Maybe. Will they use a high draft pick on a quarterback? Doubt that one, unless somebody they love falls into their laps. Another veteran in free agency? Highly unlikely.

The Eagles had Edwards in for a workout and things obviously went well. They liked what they saw. They think they bring out his best football with some hard work together.

Are they bringing Edwards in to become the starting quarterback? No. Michael Vick is the guy now and for the foreseeable future. The coaches are high on Kafka, too, and he is going to get the most reps of his professional career in the summer. Edwards is the wild card, the young veteran with some painful mileage looking for some bright skies in what has been a challenging NFL career.

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