Philadelphia Eagles' Two Choices: Start Michael Vick or Acknowledge Rebuilding

Bryan Toporek@@btoporekFeatured ColumnistSeptember 21, 2010

DETROIT - SEPTEMBER 19:  Michael Vick #7 of the Philadelphia Eagles calls the play in the huddle during warms up prior to the start of the game against the Detroit Lions at Ford Field on September 19, 2010 in Detroit, Michigan.  (Photo by Leon Halip/Getty Images)
Leon Halip/Getty Images

Andy Reid finds himself in quite the uncomfortable situation this week, doesn't he? 

And you thought last week was bad for Big Red.

On one hand, he's got his presumptive quarterback of the future, Kevin Kolb, ready to return from the concussion that kept him sidelined for Week 2. Last week, Reid declared that Kolb would resume the starting role whenever he was healthy; as of yesterday, Reid hadn't changed his tune.

Kolb is the starting QB for the Eagles in Week 3, as far as Coach Reid is concerned.

But, on the other hand, Reid and the Eagles have a three-time Pro Bowl QB in Michael Vick now heading back to the sidelines.

That's the same Michael Vick that just led the Eagles offense to 52 points in a grand total of six quarters of football this year.

In two quarters of work, Kolb led the Eagles to 24 passing yards, a field goal, and a concussion.

Vick's playing the part of the good soldier right now, going on SportsCenter on Monday to affirm that he believes Kolb should be the starter:

"I came into this season and this year as the backup and that's been my mindset," Vick said. "I've been working hard to be reliable whenever I'm needed. That's the way it is, and the way it's gonna be throughout the season."

Considering that Vick just turned up as the most hated athlete in America, according to a recent Q Scores rating, he's smart to avoid sounding contentious towards Reid and Kolb; the last thing he needs to do is become Terrell Owens Jr. He simply needs to remain grateful to the Eagles for granting him a second chance in the NFL.

That said, Coach Reid now has a major problem on his hands.

He can't sit in front of the Philadelphia media and tell them honestly that Kolb gives the Eagles the best chance to win in the short-term (see also: this year)—because he doesn't.

If Reid acknowledges that the Eagles only had faint hopes for the playoffs this year and really expected a 6-10 season with a whole bunch of growing pains for their young squad, then that's one thing—lock and load, Kolb.

But if you're looking 15 weeks down the road towards the playoffs and you recognize that you're tied for first place in your division, wouldn't you be forced to go with the guy who gives you the best shot of winning? And has Michael Vick not proven he's that guy?

Now, Reid and other Eagles front office members have repeatedly proclaimed that this year wasn't a rebuilding year for the Birds.

On the day he traded Donovan McNabb, Reid was quoted as saying, "I don’t know if we’re rebuilding. I don’t see it that way. I see it as when it’s time to play we’ll have a good football team. We try to do everything that’s best for the team and we just felt that these moves will help us down the road here."

If we're holding you to your word, Coach Reid, you said you'll try to do everything that's best for the team.

Please explain how that doesn't involve starting the guy who's personally accounted for 459 passing yards, 140 rushing yards, and three touchdowns in six quarters of play?

This whole controversy brought me back to an article I wrote way back on January 11 (long before the McNabb trade), about how the Eagles should keep Vick as McNabb's backup and trade Kolb. One passage stuck out, given Vick's sudden proficiency in the passing game in these past two weeks:

"Anyone who doubted Vick's potential with the Eagles was finally silenced on Saturday night, when Vick hit rookie Jeremy Maclin for a 76-yard touchdown bomb that seemed to temporarily breathe some life into the otherwise overmatched Eagles.  The Vick-to-Maclin connection was the longest passing touchdown in Eagles playoff franchise history and reminded the NFL just how dangerous Vick can still be."

Then again, back in January, I was reading comments like this from Vick: "I feel like I'm probably better than I ever was in my career, as far as the mental aspect of the game.  Physically—that will come. That is easy."

Anyone doubting that the physical gifts are back now, after a full offseason of work? I'd guess you haven't seen Vick's 31-yard run from Week 1.

And while Vick plays the role of the good soldier, happily trotting off to the sidelines as Kolb returns on his white horse to save the Eagles once more, there's no doubting Vick's inner-competitiveness has him burning up on the inside.

"Being a competitor, you always want to start," Vick said back in May. "I know in my future that's there for me. I'll be a starter in this league again. Right now, I'm just having fun honing my skills."

To Reid's credit, he did say after Sunday's game that he and offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinwheg had to get Vick more involved in the offense than he was last season, even when he does return to his role as the backup QB.

"We've got more plays for him than we did a year ago, so he'll be on the field," Reid said. "It isn't going to be five or six plays this year."

But if Reid truly wanted to win now, he'd keep Vick on the field as the starter.

Or at least shorten Kolb's leash. By a lot.

Otherwise, the Eagles should finally come out and admit the obvious: Despite every attempt to ban the word, the Eagles, under Kolb, are mired in a rebuilding year.


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