NFL: Michael Vick Soaring with the Philadelphia Eagles
Of all things, Andy Reid is going to take a ton of heat for this. In a press conference yesterday, Reid named Michael Vick the starting quarterback for the Philadelphia Eagles for the foreseeable future.
As an Eagles fan, I couldn’t be more giddy.
Historically, Reid has been given a free pass with regards to clock management and running a predictable offense with too many pass plays. He's given this pass due to the Eagles’ success during his tenure.
Additionally, prior to 2010, Reid had worked with only one starting quarterback as Philly’s head coach. With Donovan McNabb traded to the Washington Redskins in the off-season, the Kevin Kolb era officially begin, with Reid’s full endorsement.
It lasted 10 pass attempts.
In relief of a concussed Kolb, Vick took the field. We know the rest of the story from there.
With my hopes for 2010 Eagles success traded to Washington, you could say I was nonplussed for Kolb. With McNabb, the playoffs were a virtual guarantee. With Kolb? Well, we learned last year that he could beat the Chiefs and lose to the Saints.
So there was that.
Through the preseason and the first half of his first game, Kolb looked more like a third Detmer brother than the rhythm/timing quarterback Reid tried to sell us leading into the season. He definitely wasn’t awful, but he also couldn’t be called impressive.
His numbers in relief of McNabb last season were nice on paper, compiling 741 yards and completing 64.6 percent of his passes. In context, much of those numbers were compiled against a pretty awful Chiefs team; he also threw three interceptions against the eventual Super Bowl champs. Kolb basically played at the level you would expect from a mediocre quarterback in a pass-first offense.
In about one half of play, Kolb went went 5-for-10 for 24 yards. The Kolb-led offense amassed a whopping three points. I was ready to rewatch Aaron Rodgers’ first season as a starter.
Since then, Vick has been a revelation. I understand that Green Bay’s defense (especially the secondary) is depleted somewhat by injuries and the Lions are, well, the Lions. I understand that Vick as a post-prison starter is an extremely small sample size.
I also understand that Vick is the most exciting football player to watch since Barry Sanders.
Seeing the news yesterday that Vick had been named the full-time starter for the Eagles was like an electric shock. Instantly my hopes were catapulted from the Eagles’ ceiling being a .500 season to a frisky Wild Card contender.
And looking at some of the gaffes on the Eagles’ offensive line (which was, in fact, offensive), every Eagles game went from a potentially seeing Kolb killed or maimed by an unblocked end to a potential busted play touchdown scramble.
How can this be anything other than improvement?
I understand that Kolb’s self-esteem is probably in the gutter. I don’t have any malice toward him, but I’ve also never been enamored with his prospects as the Eagles’ starter. Sorry, but there was no way the Eagles were going 11-5 last season with Kolb at the helm.
This year? Eagles fans can consider themselves to be competitive in every game this season. I never felt that way about Kolb. Looking down the schedule, I had already checked off games against the Packers, Titans, Colts and Vikings as almost certain defeats.
We know how Vick fared against the Packers. We also know how horrendous the Colts defense was against Arian Foster . That same defense is a Dwight Freeney injury away from giving up a new single-game quarterback rushing record. I wouldn’t exactly write off that possibility even with Freeney playing.
So while people are currently ripping Reid for cutting Kolb’s legs out from under him and for selling the franchise’s future short, I’ll root for that short-term success. And I’ll be about 10 times more engaged in the Eagles’ offensive plays than I would be otherwise.
After this long, I know what an Andy Reid offense looks like. I had almost forgotten what a Michael Vick offense looks like, but he’s given quite a refresher lately.
Oh, and by the way, those who are ripping Reid for saying one thing publicly and then reversing it later: any chance you remember the exact same thing happening to McNabb during the offseason? I don’t remember anywhere near this amount criticism for that decision.
Vick was a compelling and polarizing character prior to creating a quarterback controversy in Philadelphia. With the talent at the Eagles’ skill positions, this latest chapter could be the most compelling yet.
And if Vick fails, he has already earned himself a contract next season with his performance in two games. Especially in markets that have been blacked out due to ticket sales this season.
Being the Eagles starting quarterback isn’t exactly enviable. In fact, I just dodged a thrown battery for even hinting that Eagles fans can be less-than-classy. But what, exactly, does Vick have to lose at this point that he hasn’t already lost?
And a man with nothing to lose, everything to gain, and the kind of athletic ability Vick possesses is going to be a fantastic story this season.
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