The Kevin Kolb Era got off to a rocky start in Philadelphia last week when the Eagles’ newly-minted starter suffered a concussion against the Green Bay Packers. Michael Vick played ably in relief, turning a potential blowout into a respectable contest, but the Eagles lost, 27-20.
Vick’s solid play—and his intimation that he could have pulled off the victory had he been on the field for a full four quarters—sparked a week-long debate about the starting QB position in Philly. Should Vick get the start against the Detroit Lions, or should Kolb?
Although head coach Andy Reid was adamant in his support for Kolb, the debate was put to rest, for the moment, when Kolb was unable to practice late in the week. Concussions are unpredictable, and no one knows for sure when Kolb will stop exhibiting symptoms.
Meanwhile, by attrition, Michael Vick got his first start since 2006 against the Lions, and appeared determined to make the most of it.
Vick was workmanlike, if not spectacular, as he led the Eagles to a 35-32 victory over Detroit, bringing them back from a 17-7 first-half deficit. The fleet-footed lefty passer threw for nearly 300 yards and two scores.
He managed the game well, taking what the defense gave him and making plays with his legs when he needed to. He threw some nice passes from the pocket, and while he did force a couple of balls into coverage, he didn’t turn the ball over. The debate will be alive and well this week. Expect Vick to say the right things about simply being happy to help the team. Expect Reid to declare, once again, that Kolb will be the starter when he is ready to go.
Truth be told, though, Andy Reid has some serious thinking to do. Vick looked very sharp, but it is obviously difficult to accurately judge a player’s proficiency based on a performance against the Lions. Lots of quarterbacks look good against the Lions. But Vick also ran the offense nicely against the Packers, a decent defensive team with legitimate Super Bowl aspirations.
On the other hand, the Eagles sent Donovan McNabb to the Redskins so they could see what they had in Kolb, and they still don’t know. In limited action last week, Kolb looked overwhelmed at times. But just as Reid can’t yet make a definitive judgment about Vick, neither can he pronounce Kolb unfit because of a shaky, abbreviated outing.
This is not a “Super Bowl or Bust” year for the Philadelphia Eagles. It is more of a rebuilding/reloading year. They are looking to develop cohesion on one of the NFL’s youngest teams (only six Eagles are over 30 years old). If they can win a few games along the way, that’s a bonus. That’s why, if Kevin Kolb is good to go next week against the Jacksonville Jaguars, he will almost certainly start.
Andy Reid has been notoriously stubborn when it comes to his starting quarterback, keeping McNabb under center when fans, pundits and “experts” were calling for him to be benched. He has made up his mind, and he rarely changes it.
For his part, Vick is basically auditioning for a starting quarterback job somewhere else in the league, because it isn’t going to happen for him in Philadelphia. There is always a market for an above-average starting quarterback. The Arizona Cardinals could use one right now, as could the San Francisco 49ers and the Cleveland Browns. Matt Cassel isn’t setting the world on fire in Kansas City, and the Minnesota Vikings don’t know who their starter will be in 2011 (provided there is any football at all in 2011).
There are plenty of opportunities for Michael Vick, and despite his gratitude to the Eagles for giving him another chance to play when no other team would touch him, he knows his best shot to start will be with another team. Expect him to take the shot.