Kevin Kolb and Michael Vick: The Philadelphia Eagles' Tale of Two Starters
Kevin Kolb and Michael Vick's took two completely different paths on their journey to the Philadelphia Eagles starting quarterback job, but we can some up each of their quests with the same simple quote from the Greatful Dead: what a long, strange trip it's been. The Eagles got another win in Week 6 against the Atlanta Falcons, and their pot of QB gumbo just got a little thicker.
A Little Kolb
Kolb was a highly touted, but highly doubted QB when he came out of Houston in the 2007 draft. He had both supporters and detractors, as his talent level seemed pretty high, but the competition that he played against wasn't very strong.
In 2003, Kolb was the first true freshman QB ever to be named the starter in Houston's season opener. He played four years in college, and threw for over 3,000 yards in three of his four years in the NCAA. Yet despite all of his collegiate success, he wasn't drafted until the Eagles picked him in the second round in 2007.
In his first two years in the NFL, he barely saw the field backing up franchise QB Donovan McNabb. Kolb sat back and learned from the Eagles most decorated passer in history, and patiently waited his turn. Then, Kolb got his first shot to shine as a starter in week two of the 2009 season after McNabb was injured.
Last season Kolb got two starts in place of the injured McNabb and threw for 741 yards in his limited time on the field, prompting Coach Andy Reid to get what he could for McNabb before it was too late and turn the reigns of the team over to Kolb. Thus, a new era was issued in in Philly—for the time being.
A Little Vick
Vick, on the other hand, was a star in the making right out of college. He was the Atlanta Falcons' first round pick in 2001, and after making only two starts in his rookie year, Vick took over the team the very next season and never looked back—until a stint in jail left him with nothing but time to look back.
In Vicks first season as a starter with the Falcons, Vick took them to the playoffs and gave the Brett Favre led Packers their first ever playoff loss at Lambeau Field with Favre as the QB. Vick made the Pro Bowl multiple times, was endorsed by the likes of Nike and Coca Cola, and set NFL records for rushing yards by a QB in both a single game (173) and in an entire season (1,039.)
But suddenly things came to a crashing halt. In 2007, Vick was convicted of felony dog-fighting charges and his career was in serious jeopardy of coming to an end. His name was dragged through the mud. He lied to the Falcons, the league, and his fans by blatantly denying any wrong doing, and then later admitting that he had committed the crimes that he was accused of.
There was serious questions being asked about the fate of the Pro Bowl QB's future in the NFL. Vick was demonized, and it was unclear who, if anyone, would give Vick a chance after his release. Former Colts coach Tony Dungy took the aging QB under his wing, and together they convinced the Eagles and coach Andy Reid to take a chance and sign him as a third string QB in 2009.
Vick was used as a gimmick player, running bootlegs and wildcat type plays. Vick was rarely aloud to truly play the QB roll as a passer, but he tried to make the most of his time in games. Vick managed to pass for a TD and run for two TDs in 2009 despite having only 13 pass attempts and 24 rushing attempts.
2010 Has Shown Us That Both Of These Guys Can Play
Through it all and despite their different paths, it appears that both of these QBs—yesterday's star and tomorrow's star-to-be—are now in the same position: starting QB for the Philadelphia Eagles.
Kolb is the typical pocket passing QB, while Vick is the shoot first and ask questions later type of mobile QB who is always one broken tackle away from burning to pay-dirt with his legs. They have contrasting backgrounds and styles, yet here they are together at last.
Kolb was given the job of starting QB before the team's season opener against the Green Bay Packers, but a concussion in the first half of that game opened the door for Vick. Vick came in and looked good, almost leading the team to victory after Kolb's inability to move the ball left the Eagles in a big hole.
In week two, Vick got the start against the Detroit Lions. Vick also got the 35-32 win in the contest, which he followed up with a 28-3 victory against the Jacksonville Jaguars. Then in week four against the Washington Redskins and former Eagles QB Donovan McNabb, it was Vick who was injured in the first half this time.
Kolb tried to lead the Eagles to victory in the contest, but he just didn't look ready and lost 12-17 to the 'Skins. Eagles fans were unsure if Kolb was really as good as Reid thought he was, and they started to get restless, but with Vick still hurt Kolb had to start in week five against the San Francisco 49ers.
He looked better in that contest getting the 27-24 win, and he looked even better still in week six against the Atlanta Falcons. His Eagles won the game 31-17 in a route.
Vick played at a high level in each game he played in. He had a passer rating over 100 in every game in which he played the second half. His passer rating for the year is 108.8, he has 799 passing yards, and he has seven total TDs. Vick has looked great in every game, despite never gaining 300 yards from scrimmage in any appearance this season.
Vick also had 103 rushing yards in his comeback attempt in week one, proving he can still move just as well as he ever could. Vick has been sacked a lot, and he makes it harder for his offensive line to block when he breaks containment, but he has done a great job overall when he's been healthy.
Kolb, on the other hand, has been a bit of a work in progress. He looked like a lost cause in his first four quarters or so of action in 2010, going 27-45 passing for 225 yards and only one TD with one pick and never really throwing the ball deep. He looked better against the 49ers with a QB rating of 103.3, but the training wheels were still visibly on.
Against the Falcons, though, the training wheels were definitely off. Kolb had the best game of the year for either Eagles passer, throwing for 326 yards for three TDs while completing 79.3 percent of his passes and throwing only one pick in.
Coach Andy Reid was asked in the post-game press conference who the starting QB will be going forward, and for the first time this season Reid didn't feel obligated to give an answer. If there is a QB controversy in Philly, the players don't seem to know it. Kolb, Maclin, Vick, and even coach Reid all seem to be drinking the Kool-aid.
Both Vick and Kolb are 2-1 as starters this season. As long as these QBs can keep their egos in check and keep playing well, we may be on the verge of seeing the first successful two QB system in the league. How unpredictable would the Eagles be if their opponents truly had no idea who they were going to see week to week?This is uncharted water, but it sure is a fascinating concept.
I'm not suggesting at all that they flip them in and out during a game. They tried that last year, and it didn't work. Once a guy starts, he plays that game. Just keep the competition guessing right up until game day. Kolb proved he can throw it deep and has developed some chemistry with his WRs, which were his only real problems in question coming into week six.
Vick has proven that he's ready to do whatever it takes to win and appears to be a little more humble these days. He's buying into the system, and he's in a contract year, so he'll do whatever the staff wants him to do. He already has a money-making resume put together, so he doesn't have to win a job. Everything from here on out is icing on the cake.
Right now, Andy Reid seems to be a genius. He trades a possible Hall of Famer inside of the division to keep an unproven kid. The kid gets hurt, and Reid throws in the veteran backup who everyone is doubting. Then Reid dumps the kid for the vet. Then the vet goes down, and suddenly the coach who was under so much scrutiny is now the QB guru of the NFL after the kid comes back in and gets back to back wins.
It no longer matters who we think the starter should be (but feel free to share your opinions with me anyway as I'm always interested in your thoughts) since no matter who plays is apparently NFL starter material. This has become more of a masterpiece theater than the horror film that I originally thought it would surely be. Maybe it's time for us to just sit back and enjoy the show. As I keep saying, what a difference a week makes.
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