Since 1980, 45 quarterbacks have started at least 20 games in their first two NFL seasons. But the current Eagles quarterback on that list isn't Michael Vick, it's Trent Edwards. Among those 45 quarterbacks, Edwards' performance in those first two seasons passes the sniff test. He ranks 17th in passer rating (79.1), ahead of the likes of Donovan McNabb, Eli Manning, Drew Bledsoe, John Elway and Troy Aikman. His 61.6 completion percentage ranks eighth, besting even Peyton Manning. And while his 18 touchdowns ranked toward the bottom at 42nd, Alex Smith, who helped lead the San Francisco 49ers to the NFC Championship game last season, ranked even lower.
All of that is to say that even though Edwards is fighting for his place on an NFL roster in his fifth NFL season, there is still hope for the 28 year old. Now, despite a relative lack of practice reps, Edwards is soaking up as much coaching as he can from the traditionally quarterback-friendly Eagles organization.
"I'm trying to be as attentive as possible, trying to make eye contact, trying to ask as many questions as I can, trying to talk through things with Mike Vick, Mike Kafka, Nick Foles and all the coaches," said Edwards. "That's the only way I feel like I can get better is by wanting to be coached."
Foremost among the 6-4 Edwards' development under the Eagles are some mechanical tweaks to his fundamentals at the position. It remains to be seen how quickly Edwards can get comfortable with his new way of throwing.
"I've been coached in the past ... trying to be a little taller, be up tall, use your height," he said. "It's emphasized here to be a little bit lower, bend your knees more. It's one of those things that's going to take a little bit of time, having to remind myself to bend my knees, take a big first step, big hitches, which are all kind of new to me but something that I think will help me in the long run.
"I don't have a timetable for you. There are times when I understand where I'm going with the ball and my footwork feels good, and then on the very next rep, that's not the case. I don't know when that is, and I wish I had an answer. I do feel like the mechanics here are enforced, which they should be at the quarterback position, and they are enforced here way more than what I have been through before. I'm just trying to tweak some things and have made some progress, but I have a long way to go."
Compounding the difficulty of that transition for Edwards is the fact that he receives so few team reps during practice. With the offense revolving around Vick, Mike Kafka developing as the No. 2 quarterback and rookie Nick Foles' indoctrination into the NFL, there aren't many chances for Edwards to throw to his new teammates during practice. That's why it's become so expected for Edwards to spend time after practice throwing to receivers.
In other words, for the former starting quarterback, there's also a transition into the mindset of backup quarterback.
"It's tough sitting there watching, watching and then the 10th play of the period they (tell you to) go throw a deep comeback route and you're like, well I've been standing here for the last 15 minutes," said Edwards. "But you can't make excuses, you've got to be ready to roll and it's the same thing on game day; you're one, two plays away from getting in there and having to throw those in front of 70,000 fans. I picked up a lot I feel like from my playing early. I knew what I valued a lot in the backup quarterbacks, and tried to evaluate what they did well and what they didn't do well. I've tried to take that with me here, tried to be a good teammate, cheerleader, asking questions and that's really all I know right now."
In fact, one of Edwards' backups in Buffalo, Ryan Fitzpatrick, took the starter reins for good, and did enough to earn himself a contract extension last season. While Edwards isn't necessarily expecting to steal the starting job from Vick, he's comfortable in his decision to join the Eagles.
"I'm happy to be here with the Eagles," he said. "It's a quarterback position here that always seems to succeed, no matter who's out there, whether it's Donovan or Mike Vick or Kevin Kolb. Those guys have flourished in this offense and for me to sit and watch and learn and be in this system, to be around these coaches, these players, there are weapons everywhere. It's a matter of me doing my job, me improving and hopefully getting to where I need to be."
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