Quarterback Conundrum; Kevin Kolb Proves He Can Start in the NFL With Victory
You'd think having two quarterbacks playing at a high level would be a good thing.
After Kevin Kolb's less than stellar first quarter performance, he was taken out of the games after getting a concussion.
Michael Vick didn't look great in his limited action in 2009, but Michael Vick quickly showed that not only could he play like the "old" Vick, he also showed he could make plays in the pocket and be an elite level QB.
After the week 2 victory over the Detroit Lions, Philadelphia Eagles head coach Andy Reid reiterated the fact that Kolb would return and be the starter permitted he was healthy versus Jacksonville. Later that week, he changed his mind, and named Vick the permanent starter for the rest of the season.
Few people had a reason to blame Reid.
After all, in his limited time, Kolb looked like a deer in headlights. His play during the preseason was somewhat sloppy as well; with Vick playing out of his mind and with the confidence of the whole team behind him (not to mention a healthy amount of pressure from Philly fans and sports media), it seemed a no brainer that Vick would starter.
Coming into Week 4, the Eagles would welcome back the quarterback they traded within the division, Donovan McNabb and his new team the Washington Redskins.
With what most consider a spotty defense from the Redskins, it seemed like the stage was set for another classic Vick performance.
And then, Vick got squished between two Washington defenders and left the game with an injury to his rib cartilage.
So the long awaited duel between Kolb and McNabb came to fruition after all. It appeared maybe Kolb would finally step up and assume the mantle, proving he deserved his starting job.
He fumbled the snap on his first play.
Not shockingly, the Philadelphia faithful booed him.
Though Kolb's stats at the end of the game looked better than the man he was taking over for, he did not have a very good game. For one, the Redskins were running the ball so well, that McNabb rarely had to pass.
At one point he simply became a game manager, moving the chains when necessary, but mostly handing the ball off. Kolb finished were playing from behind and had to throw to catch up.
Most of Kolb's yardage came from using the checkdown and short pass as a sort of running game. At times, Philly wide-outs DeSean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin appeared to be wide open, but Kolb would check the ball down.
The leading receiver in the game was Eagles running back LeSean McCoy. Either he was being coached to avoid the long ball, or he didn't trust himself enough against the 'Skins pass rush and behind a shotty offensive line.
To his credit, the discussion of Kolb would've likely been very different had Jason Avant not dropped a touchdown in the end zone to seal Philly's fate on one last Hail Mary. But the lasting sound in the Linc wasn't one of adulation for Kevin Kolb--it was boos and people biting their nails, wondering when Vick would get back.
There were many issues in that game; poor clock management, a defense that couldn't stop the run and an offensive line that seemed to crumble and get stupid penalties all afternoon long. But, as is sometimes the case in Philadelphia, most of the blame for the loss fell on the shoulders of Kevin Kolb.
Going into a game against the winless-and-desperate San Francisco 49ers, Kolb was again named the starter, as Vick was still unable to compete because of his injury.
Though the 49ers' play was iffy at best, Kolb's play appeared to be more so, and people picked the 49ers to come out with their first win of the season. Kolb's performance had been critiqued and picked apart, and analyst and TV personalities all but wrote off the Eagles until the Vick Experience returned.
But not so fast.
Against the 49ers, Kolb did he damnedest to prove his team could start, and he made a great case. He finished the game 21-of-31 for 253 yards and a touchdown. Kolb proved that he could throw the ball down field and, when he needed to, he could even make a play or two with his feet.
Still, there were whispers and talk that Kolb hadn't so much won the game as he'd managed the game and the 49ers blew a chance to win.
Well, anyone who was still worried about No. 4 has less of a reason to.
In his strongest showing of his still young career, Kolb played lights out against the highly favored Atlanta Falcons. He played as close to a perfect football game as anyone could, going 23-for-29 for an astounding 326 yards and three touchdowns.
Someone tell the Vick Experience to stop warming up. The Kolb Collective just played a killer set.
Once again, Reid finds himself in a dilemma. On the one hand, he already took the stance that he was removing Kolb from the starting job and making Vick the number one guy.
When Vick was playing well, most analyst were practically begging for Reid to start Vick because he gave the Eagles the best chance of winning.
Clearly, that's not the case. Kolb is more than capable of winning. Not only did he win, he managed to win without Jackson.
Nonetheless, Reid has said that Vick will be the starting quarterback come next week, provided he's healthy.
But this is a very, very odd situation for Reid and the entire Eagles organization. While lots of people claim this is the kind of situation head coaches would dream of—having two quarterbacks who can both play at a high level—all it does is invite more scrutiny.
While Vick could possibly start next week against the Tennessee Titans, it's unlikely that he is 100 percent healthy.
A rib injury is hard enough to play through for anyone else—for a guy who plays Vick's style of flashy football, it could be even harder.
The Titans are no pushover team—Vince Young has shown he can also stand in the pocket and pass if he wants to, and Chris Johnson is arguably the best back in the whole league. (Unless you ask Adrian Peterson, of course.)
If Vick struggles in the next game and is in it for the whole thing, they talk will start up about how Kolb could've won the game. If Vick struggles for a couple games, the ground swell of support for Kolb that may have led to McNabb's trade to the Washington Redskins could very well start again.
And then the question becomes, "will Reid stick to his guns and with Vick, or will he switch back to his guy, the one he wanted to start in the first place?"
A quarterback controversy is only good when one guy can consistently outplay the other, then you know where everything stands, and no one can say anything about it.
But when one man struggles, people will begin to ask for, and eventually demand, the other guy. People always like the guy that's on the bench. (Ask Redskins fans about Devin Thomas sometime.
Kolb has made the best argument he could for staying on the field by winning two straight.
In the coming weeks, it'll be interesting to see if Vick can make a productive counter-argument against.
Follow me on Twitter @kcclyburn
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