On April 4th, 2010, the Philadelphia Eagles traded six-time Pro Bowl quarterback Donovan McNabb to the division rival Washington Redskins, placing all of their faith in Kevin Kolb, a second-round draft pick in the 2007 season. Not only was Kolb named the team's starter, he was expected to be the franchise quarterback.
In the first game of the 2010 season. Kolb struggled, to put it as politely as possible, against the Green Bay Packers, completing 5-of-10 passes for 24 yards before a hard hit by linebacker Clay Matthews knocked Kolb out of the game.
We all know what happened next. Michael Vick dominated against the Green Bay Packers, almost leading the Eagles on a miraculous comeback. With Kolb suffering a concussion, Vick started against the Detroit Lions, leading the offense to 35 points and its first win of the season.
On September 21st, 2010, head coach Andy Reid announced that Kevin Kolb temporarily lost his starting job to Michael Vick, just one day after Reid declared Kolb the starter for the season's third game against Jacksonville.
Reid called Vick "the hottest quarterback in the National Football League right now" and stated the former three-time Pro Bowl quarterback "deserves an opportunity to play."
In six quarters' worth of play, Vick has thrown for 459 yards, three touchdowns, and zero interceptions, while rushing for 140 yards (7.8 per rush). As Andy Reid says, "Michael Vick is playing out of his mind right now."
Yet the decision to bench Kevin Kolb in favor of Michael Vick has the potential to turn into the worst coaching decision of Andy Reid's career.
Let's think about it for a minute.
It's no surprise that the Eagles, particularly Andy Reid, love young players.
The Eagles are an incredibly young team. Their starting running back is 22. Their two best wide receivers are 23 and 22. Their tight end is 25.
In the past two offseasons, the Eagles have traded or released the following Pro Bowl players who were 30 years or older: Donovan McNabb, Brian Westbrook, Sheldon Brown and Brian Dawkins.
When the season began, just five players on the Eagles' roster were older than the age of 30: punter Sav Rocca, kicker David Akers, defensive end Juqua Parker, center Jamaal Jackson and quarterback Michael Vick. Only one of those players was expected to be a starter on offense or defense. And that would be Jamaal Jackson, not Michael Vick.
With the majority of their players in their mid-twenties or younger, the Eagles are rebuilding. They're not concerned about winning now as much as they are with winning in the future.
But within a few years, Kevin Kolb and the Eagles' plethora of offensive weapons were expected to compete. Now that entire process could be delayed for a year, or longer.
This isn't the first time Andy Reid has had to deal with a quarterback controversy.
In 2002, McNabb broke his ankle and missed six games, during which AJ Feeley performed well enough for a portion of the fan base to call for his promotion to starting quarterback. Reid never blinked, and McNabb returned as the starter in time for the postseason.
In 2006, McNabb suffered a torn ACL, before 36-year-old Jeff Garcia led the Eagles to five consecutive victories and a playoff berth. The Eagles made the wise decision after the season, choosing not to resign Jeff Garcia, and keeping McNabb as the starter.
Therefore, the decision to bench Kevin Kolb after two poor quarters of play against Green Bay is ridiculous. Absurd.
No one, and I mean no one, can accurately predict Kevin Kolb's future as an NFL quarterback. And if anything, he has exceeded expectations in limited playing time.
Last season, Kevin Kolb became the first quarterback in NFL history to throw for more than 300 yards in each of his first two starts. Reid's faith in Kolb was so high that he traded the best quarterback in franchise history during the offseason, opening the door for Kolb to become the next great Eagles' quarterback.
And now Kolb is back on the bench. Again.
So what happens from here? Michael Vick could lead the Eagles into the postseason and there is still no guarantee that he would be re-signed for next season. The Eagles can't even make a decision whether or not to re-sign Vick until they see what type of player Kevin Kolb will become.
Michael Vick played extremely well in one-and-a-half starts. But I don't think he played well enough to steal the starting job.
He torched the Packers, although Green Bay was completely unprepared for Vick to play the entire second half. And Vick shredded the Lions' defense, posting a passer rating of 108.0.
But a 108.0 passer rating? That's merely average against the Lions, who allowed an NFL-record 110.8 passer rating in 2008, followed up by the second-worst mark ever in 2009 (107.6).
Vick has miraculously earned three Pro Bowl selections in his career without ever throwing for 3,000 yards in a season or tossing more than 20 touchdowns. He's a good quarterback, but not a great quarterback. But he wasn't brought to Philly to start or even to contend for a starting job. The Michael Vick Experience seems legit right now, but let's see how Vick is performing in three or four weeks.
When has a quarterback been benched without at least half a season under his belt? Ryan Leaf was allowed to make nine starts in 1998, despite throwing for two touchdowns and 15 interceptions, arguably the worst season by a quarterback in NFL history.
Kolb deserves his chance. He waited three years to start and the fact that he lost his job after one half of poor play is absolutely ludicrous.
But this isn't just about one bad half of football by Kevin Kolb, or three good halves by Michael Vick. It's about what is right for the future of the Philadelphia Eagles.
Michael Vick probably gives the Philadelphia Eagles their best opportunity to win this season, although even with Vick, the Eagles are nowhere near one of the best teams in the NFL.
But Kolb gives the Eagles the best chance to win in the future. At least we think he does.
Is Kevin Kolb the franchise quarterback or the next Bobby Hoying? Nobody has a clue. But we all deserve the opportunity to find out.
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