Eagles have enviable backup option for Vick

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If Michael Vick doesn't return Sunday against the New York Giants, Andy Reid can take solace in the fact that he has one of the top backup quarterbacks in the NFL according to Total QBR: Vince Young.

The Philadelphia Eagles are optimistic Michael Vick will be able to return Sunday against the New York Giants after suffering a concussion against the Atlanta Falcons. Vick returned to the practice field Thursday, one day after his replacement against Atlanta, Mike Kafka, took all of the first-team snaps in practice. That same day, newly acquired backup Vince Young returned to practice after suffering a hamstring injury in the preseason.

Kafka, drafted in the fourth round of the 2010 NFL draft, did not see any regular-season action for the Eagles in 2010. That was one of the reasons Philadelphia signed Young as a backup QB.

While we don’t know who will start for Philadelphia on Sunday – signs point to Vick – we can analyze just how lucky the Eagles are to have Young as a backup.

Smallest Drop-off, Starter To Backup
Total QBR Difference, 2008-10

As a refresher, Total QBR is a quarterback rating that takes into account all of a quarterback's contributions (passing, rushing, sacks, fumbles, penalties) to his team's scoring and winning and summarizes them into one number on a 0-100 scale, on which 50 is average.

Young’s Total QBR of 64.2 from 2008-10 is only a slight drop-off from Vick's (65.9). In that span, Young ranked 11th among the 75 quarterbacks with at least 100 action plays. Obviously, 100 action plays is a relatively small sample size, but since we are dealing with backup quarterbacks, there has to be some cutoff regarding what can be determined as an appropriate minimum value for assessing backups.

There are 14 teams in the NFL that have a backup with at least 100 action plays over the last three years. Among those teams, the Eagles have the fourth-smallest drop-off in Total QBR from starter to backup in moving from Vick to Young. The three teams with a "more favorable" backup situation feature three young QBs who are either playing very well (Ryan Fitzpatrick) or are considered the future of the franchise (Matthew Stafford and Colt McCoy).

A quick glance at the QBR leaderboard from the previous three seasons shows that Young actually rates higher than 22 other starting quarterbacks. That group includes Eli Manning, Ben Roethlisberger, Joe Flacco, Josh Freeman, Matthew Stafford, Sam Bradford, Kevin Kolb and Mark Sanchez.

For exclusive video, stories and blogs about quarterbacks from every level of competition, check out ESPN's "Year of the Quarterback" page.