Andy Reid's plan is to play each of his four quarterbacks one quarter each against the Steelers at Lincoln Financial Field and give each of them the responsibility of running the offense smoothly, putting points on the scoreboard and riding safely into the night.
From this perspective, each man has a different set of expectations. Certainly, I want to see each quarterback drop back and throw the football effectively and score touchdowns. But there is more to it than that, so let's go quarterback by quarterback and outline what will be pleasing to see against Pittsburgh ...
MICHAEL VICK, first quarter
I've seen enough from Michael Vick in training camp to understand that he has a great feel for the offense and that he's throwing the football accurately and so forth. I want to see Vick come out of the game without so much as a single grass stain on his pants. I want to see Vick drop back and get rid of the football safely. I want to see him come out of the game without taking a hit.
Now, the Steelers like to blitz. And maybe they will blitz some tonight. It wouldn't surprise me a bit to see that defense come out with an aggressive scheme. That would provide the Eagles a good opportunity to practice blitz pickup, of course, but it would also give the offense a chance to take the pressure off of Vick by calling screen passes, draws, and other get-the-football-out-of-his-hands plays.
Of course I want to see the dynamic Michael Vick smoothly run the Eagles offense on the way to a touchdown or two. Truth is, though, I don't need to see that tonight. I just want him to get out of the game without a blemish and show that all of the talk about being just a tad more restrained and living to see another play wasn't just talk.
MIKE KAFKA, second quarter
I've been impressed with the way Mike Kafka has progressed in the spring and summer. He has more zip on his passes. He has a fine command of the offense and the huddle and he has the respect of his teammates.
This is an important preseason for Kafka, certainly, now that he has ascended to the role of No. 2 quarterback. He's going out there to play his best football, even if he has to do so with a lot of second-team offensive weapons.
Certainly, making sure the offensive line is cohesive is the first priority of the second-team offense, but I'll assign that responsibility to the great Howard Mudd. For Kafka, the chore is to go out and play excellent football.
I want to see him deliver strikes in the intermediate-range passing game. I'd like to see Kafka stretch the field, just once. I want to see him put points on the board, and the reality is that if any of the quarterbacks is going to play more than the designated single quarter, it will be Kafka.
While Kafka has played well in training camp, he's also had a penchant for holding on to the ball in the pocket, and he absolutely cannot do that against a voracious Steelers defense. Drop back and let it go, Mike.
He is in an extremely important position as Vick's backup. The Eagles need to give Kafka as many reps as possible in the preseason.
NICK FOLES, third quarter
We've all seen rookie quarterbacks stumble through their preseason debuts. Tonight presents an entirely different challenge for Foles with a faster tempo, a defense that has schemed just a little bit and unfamiliar faces to which he is throwing.
I want to see Foles operate the offense with confidence, get in and out of the huddle quickly, and handle the moment with calm and confidence. I want to see Foles show that he has "it" even if his completion percentage isn't where it needs to be at the end of the night.
Foles is a big, strong, intelligent kid who has looked good in training camp. The Eagles hope he is someone they can count on in the future, but the truth is that nobody knows at this point if that will be the case. Foles has to do everything more quickly tonight than he has ever played the position.
A couple of easy throws early might help. Relying on the running game would be a big plus. Avoiding third-and-long situations would absolutely help his cause.
More than anything, I want to see Foles go out and have fun and emerge knowing that he has all of the skills to master the speed of the game. It's not going to be easy at all for Foles, who has a lot of moving parts around him that won't be on the roster in September.
TRENT EDWARDS, fourth quarter
Trent Edwards deserves a ton of credit for the way he has handled his situation. He's gotten very few reps in practice. He has done nothing but be a great teammate and a hard worker as he works with quarterbacks coach Doug Pederson. It seems fairly etched in stone that, barring anything unforeseen, Vick, then Kafka, then Foles will make the 53-man roster.
So this is a big opportunity for Edwards, no matter how much playing time he gets. Sometimes those blueprints don't work out exactly as planned and the fourth quarterback gets squeezed and, well, Edwards understands that as much as anyone. He's been around the game long enough to know how it works.
I want to see Edwards go in and fling it. Just chuck the heck out of the football and let 'er rip and show every NFL team that his shoulder is fine and that his arm is good to go and that he is ready to play football in this league again.
Edwards is a great guy; heck, they all are. The preseason is about getting jobs for all of these players. Thing is, the job descriptions change just a little bit in the preseason games and as the quarterbacks line up to play tonight, they all have different measures of success for their performances.