On Tuesday, September 21st, Philadelphia Eagles coach Andy Reid made his second controversial move of the year—he named Michael Vick the team's starting QB after giving QB Kevin Kolb only 10 passes in Week 1.
This move alone carries with it all sorts of implications for the team's present and future. Now, only three days later, there are reports that the Eagles might trade Kolb within the next few weeks. Two weeks ago, Kevin Kolb was the Eagles ticket into the playoffs for the next decade. One Kolb concussion and one Michael Vick start later, Kolb appears to be expendable.
In 2009, Kolb started two games in the absence of an injured Donovan McNabb. In those two games, Kolb looked above average, passing for a gaudy 749 yards and four TDs with three picks. It was enough to convince the Eagles to move out of the Donovan McNabb era and into the Kevin Kolb era.
The Kevin Kolb era could now be over before it even began.
Benching Kolb so quickly was already quite the head-scratcher, but trading him will open the floodgates for scrutiny and implications to overwhelm the Eagles for the next few years. This move is far from final, but the possibility of it sparks great debate over what the fallout for the Eagles franchise would be and how extensively it would affect the team in the future.
Scenario No. One: Kolb Turns Out To Be a Productive Starter Somewhere Else
I'll throw out some possible teams that Kolb could go to, just to lay the groundwork for this scenario.
If the Eagles trade Kolb to a team like—for example—the Arizona Cardinals, he would have unlimited resources in the offensive scheme. With the strong arm and accuracy that he displayed in his limited action in the NFL, Kolb could throw jump ball after jump ball to WR Larry Fitzgerald in traffic week after week.
With Steve Breaston on the other side of the field, he would have a speed threat with the deep ball in one on coverage. Add to the mix a backfield with Tim Hightower and Beanie Wells, and you have a pretty dynamic offense.
If he were to go to a team like the Tennessee Titans, where starting QB Vince Young has been on the hot seat for years now, Kolb will be afforded other luxuries. The Titans are built around a sound defense and an electrifying back named Chris Johnson.
They have big, physical possession-type receivers in Justin Gage and Kenny Britt, and a speed threat in Nate Washington. Their receivers aren't great, but they don't need to be.
RB Chris Johnson is one of the two best backs in the league right now. He is regarded as the NFL's fastest man and has great vision and cutback skills. If Kolb played even close to mistake-free football, the defense and the running game would do most of the work for him.
Kolb could thrive equally well on other teams, but that isn't the point of this article. For the Eagles, Kolb's trace could potentially blast the team back to the stone age in terms of the state of the franchise.
The team would look like complete fools for getting rid of a quality QB just to keep some guy that might not even resign in the offseason. Trading Kolb now could damage the reputation of the Eagles as well as their level of play for years to come.
Head coach Andy Reid would certainly have to find another job. There's no way that he could trade away two franchise QBs in the same year and still be accepted in Philadelphia.
Scenario No. Two: Kolb Turns Out To Be a Bust
Coach Reid would be revered as a great decision maker. As long as Vick keeps playing at a high level and continues to win games, everyone would forget the perils of Week Two's QB circus, or even laugh about it down the road. Success changes everything.
Also, depending on what they get in return for Kolb, they could land an impact player in the draft due to the trade. If they pick up a veteran LB or CB in the deal, they would be able to solidify a defense that plays inconsistent football and make them more capable of playing tough through their playoff run this year.
If Kolb turns out to be no better than average, the team wins in every phase of this move.
There are plenty of teams that need a QB, so if they choose carefully and keep Kolb off of their schedule, they'll avoid a lot of the possible backlash. I'm not saying that they should sabotage his career by setting him up to fail—just set him up to not succeed this season.
Careful handling of this situation could actually help the team in the long run. If the Eagles do well and Kolb stays off Philadelphia's radar, everything could be okay as long as the team gets something quality in the trade.
No Matter What Kolb Does, There is Still Danger for the Eagles
No matter how well or poorly Kolb ends up doing, there are still a few hurdles that will stem from a trade.
If Kolb is traded, Andy Reid will have no safety net in the event that the Michael Vick experiment doesn't yield the results that he is hoping for. A poor 2010 season from Vick Would have fans not only wondering, "What if we had Kolb?" but would also bring back the talk of Donovan McNabb getting axed for a guy who isn't even on the team anymore.
There's just as good a chance that Vick plays well and takes this team to the playoffs, but he is a free agent after this season. The Eagles would be forced to sign Vick in the upcoming offseason. No easy task, especially if Vick leads them to a winning season.
His stock would be as high as it has ever been. There is no shortage of teams in need of a good starting QB in the league right now, and the bidding war for Vick's services would be out of control. As we all know by now, the Oakland Raiders are always in the market for a QB and would probably do everything short of signing the team away to sign Vick. The Eagles could potentially go from having two legitimate QBs with starting ability to being without even one going into 2011.
If they do re-sign Vick, they won't have much money to bring in anyone to help him win. RB LeSean McCoy looks like he could be a productive back, but hanging your team's future on youthful what-ifs is a very risky move.
WR DeSean Jackson is a great young receiver and TE Brent Celek is a fine pass catcher and blocker, but outside of them, the team's offense is lacking in depth.
The Eagles have youth and potential on their side, which is a positive thing for them to have in their favor, but there is no guarantee that their players will continue to improve. It's going to be a rocky road for the Eagles—no matter what they decide to do—but trading Kolb may be their best shot at getting out from underneath a QB controversy before it really gets heated.
Either way, buckle up, Eagles fans. I think you're in for a bumpy ride.