There it is. We got it out of the way. Let’s move on.
After taking some time off to discuss the temperature of Jim Caldwell’s seat, it’s time to get back on the road. My road trips are almost over for the year, and after talking with my agent and my family, I’ve decided to take my talents to South Beach to learn about Brad Kaaya.
We all know who Brad’s mom is. Actress Angela Means of the film “Friday” or the infamous “Felisha,” to be more specific. But more importantly, she played Mrs. Walker on Nickelodeon’s Cousin Skeeter for three years.
But even more important than that, she had a son named Brad, and Brad can play the game of football. Admittedly, I don’t know much about Kaaya other than this, so South Florida, here I come.
Deep in the heart of Miami, there is the life and career if Vanilla Ice. Even deeper than that, there is a Lions fan that is a Hurricanes expert. I present to you Cam Underwood of The State Of The U: A Detroit Lions fan trapped in 80 degree weather near an ocean. The poor guy. Here’s what he had to say about Kaaya.
POD: What are your thoughts on Kaaya’s time in south beach?
SOTU: “Kaaya was the player Miami needed at QB over the last 3 years. He was good to very good, and great in stretches. I mean, Kaaya is Miami's all-time leading passer (9,968 yards) over Ken Dorsey, Vinny Testaverde, Jim Kelly, and Bernie Kosar. That is impressive and worth praising.
The thing that sticks out, however, are Miami's inability to win big games (Florida State, Clemson, Bowl games prior to last season) with Kaaya at the helm. Brad was a good player, and very consistent statistically in each of his 3 years at Miami, but the Canes weren't able to win big -- which isn't entirely on Kaaya -- and that is something that can't be avoided.
Overall, Kaaya was a good and steady QB, a fact which has been overlooked. For the last 3 years, there was never a question as to who would be playing that position for Miami. Kaaya stepped in as a freshman, won the job, and never looked back. He may not have hit the highs that some thought (hoped?) he would in his career, but he was very good, and that can't be ignored.”
POD: What are his strengths?
SOTU: “Kaaya's strengths are his accuracy, his knowledge of the game, and his ability to throw from the pocket.
Kaaya's best throws were routinely slants, which were a staple under all 3 Offensive Coordinators that he worked with. It's something he's excelled at since HS, and figures to continue to thrive on in the NFL. Kaaya throws slants with good velocity and great precision, usually letting his receivers run after the catch due to great ball placement. For proof, here's arguably Kaaya's best thrown slant from Miami's win at NC State this past season.”
“Kaaya had 3 offensive systems in his time at Miami. He was able to perform well in each system, totaling more than 3,100 yards in each of his 3 years at Miami. He was able to learn the offense, understand it, and interact with it on the field to great success. He should be able to learn the system in Detroit in a similar way.
If Kaaya is on-time and in rhythm, it's a beautiful thing. Throws are strong, accurate, and effective. He's a short-passing wiz who can hit intermediate and deep passes as well, when given adequate time to do so. “
POD: What are his weaknesses?
SOTU: “Any conversation about Brad Kaaya's weaknesses has to start with his lack of athleticism. Kaaya is a prototypical pocket passer with limited mobility. He won't run out of sacks, or keep plays alive with his legs, or scramble for yardage. Kaaya ran only a handful of times in his Miami career, out of sheer desperation. Defenses know that he's going to be right where they expect him to be, with no threat of him running or eluding the rush.
Because of that lack of athleticism, Kaaya struggles vs pressure. I know most QBs usually struggle when facing pressure, but Kaaya is affected greatly. If the pocket is pressured, Kaaya is going to struggle. A LOT. As I said in the strengths answer, if Kaaya is on-time and in rhythm, it's a beautiful thing. Which, while good, means the inverse is true as well: if anything in the play breaks down -- protection, route, footwork, timing -- that means it's usually not going to be a good thing.”
POD: Do you think Kaaya can unseat Rudock as the number two in Detroit?
SOTU: “I not only think Kaaya can take Rudock's spot as the backup, but I think that he will take that spot. Living in South Florida, I've seen Jake Rudock since his time in HS at St. Thomas Aquinas, and have obviously seen Kaaya over the course of the last 3 years. While Rudock is a fine player, I think that Kaaya is just a better player and prospect.
Kaaya falling to the end of the 6th round is far from what was initially projected for him, and far from where he would have liked to have been drafted. But, as far as landing the backup QB job with the Lions, I think that's going to happen sooner rather than later. “
POD: Last question. Does Matthew Stafford have any reason to worry?
SOTU: “No, Matthew Stafford should not be concerned about Brad Kaaya.
While Kaaya has talent (see my previous answers for that narrative), he's not on the level to supplant or challenge Stafford for the QB1 job. He is, however, talented and knowledgeable enough to supplant Rudock for the QB2 job, but the QB1 spot is 100% Matthew Stafford's.
That last question may seem a little crass, but there was a good reason for it. Too often fans judge backup quarterbacks for their ability to play against third string defenses in preseason games.
You may not know it, but you probably have a “put Kaaya in” knee-jerk reaction pre-loaded into your mind. Delete it. Kaaya is not Tom Brady, nor is Jake Rudock. You should still freak out if Stafford gets hurt.
Having said that, Kaaya is a steal. I dare say that Kaaya could be the Lions’ version of Matt Flynn. A good quarterback that some team will pay lots of money to some day. Or he could be Charlie Whitehurst. There’s nothing wrong with that. Either of those options would be fine.
I agree with Cam, look for Kaaya to steal Jake Rudock’s job quickly. Also look for the Lions to carry three quarterbacks into 2017. Rudock and Kaaya will need to merge if Stafford goes down. Let’s hope that doesn't happen.