September 21, 2010
Well, this is a stunner. On Tuesday afternoon, the news broke that the Philadelphia Eagles have named Michael Vick(notes) their starting quarterback. According to initial reports, the move has nothing to do with former starter Kevin Kolb's(notes) concussion; this is entirely a football move, seemingly based on Vick's performance in Philly's 35-32 win over the Detroit Lions last Sunday, and his ability to move the team when he spelled Kolb in the season-opening loss against Green Bay. In six quarters, Vick has completed 37 passes in 58 attempts for 459 yards, three touchdowns, and no interceptions. He has also run for 140 yards and six first downs on just 18 carries.
The Eagles have had a long-standing belief in Kolb, who they selected in the second round of the 2007 NFL draft. They traded Donovan McNabb(notes) to the Washington Redskins in April, and put their full faith behind Kolb instead. But Vick, whom the Eagles picked up after he finished his prison sentence, was signed in August of 2009 as a backup/option quarterback, has made head coach Andy Reid's decision to keep Kolb in place far more difficult.
"When someone is playing at the level Michael Vick is playing, you have to give him an opportunity," Reid said during a Tuesday afternoon press conference. "This isn't about Kevin Kolb's play. You're talking about Michael Vick as one the best quarterbacks in the NFL right now." It is also believed that the Eagles' coaching staff and front office believes that given the problems on the team's current offensive line, Vick's mobility is a major plus in the short term.
While the move is entirely defensible on its face (especially if you aren't too impressed with Kolb), the back story puts Reid and the Eagles' front office in a position where three things can happen, and two of them are bad. The optimal situation is that Vick continues to succeed, the Eagles win a suddenly wide-open NFC East, and everyone goes to heaven in a little rowboat. That's the "Good Ship Lollipop" version. The other versions: Vick falls back to earth, and Reid reverses field by throwing a shattered Kolb to the wolves. Or: Vick fails, Kolb fails, and Reid is left without a viable quarterback. This would be especially bad news if the McNabb-led Redskins were to win the NFC East.
Then, there's the possibility of Kolb insisting on a trade -- this seems very possible. Kolb signed a two-year extension to his rookie contract, and the Eagles control his rights through the 2011 season. But if he has the feeling that the team sees Vick as its future, this may be the end.
In June, I reviewed tape of Kolb's starts to date, and I walked away unimpressed. He seemed to have a rudimentary handle on the NFL game, and while that's expected given his experience level, you can't really blame the Eagles for going with the hot hand when Vick's current skill set makes him a threat like few others.
"Michael did an exceptional job and my job is to evaluate the players," Reid said. "It's my obligation to make the proper decision ... this is what I think is right. He's back and maybe even a little better."
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