Why the Eagles should move on with their once annointed starter
It seemed like just yesterday when sports writers everywhere were calling for the Eagles to part ways with Donovan McNabb for the little proven Kevin Kolb. Now, a year later, everyone has jumped on the Michael Vick bandwagon and are calling for Kolb's trade. Of course, it is obviously a different situation, as Kolb is much younger and clearly still has potential, while McNabb was an 11 year veteran in the twilight of his career. Additionally, Vick has clearly outperformed Kolb in 2010 and the question primarily is whether the Eagles should hold Kolb hostage one more season as insurance, or sell him for draft picks and/or players.
As much as I despise band-wagoning, however, I would agree that the Eagles need to move Kolb and I believe they will once the labor situation is resolved. Here are 5 reasons why:
The Eagles could easily acquire free agents to fill the void at backup QB
One of the main reasons that one would make the argument not to trade Kolb is that the Eagles would need a capable backup should Michael Vick get injured if they are to make a serious run at the Super Bowl.
Yet, while this idea is certainly a valid one, the answer does not have to be Kevin Kolb. Capable backups can be acquired with relative ease in the NFL. If the Eagles chose to go the Free Agency route, there are many veterans out there who would be excellent backups should Vick miss a few games. Matt Hasselbeck may have seen his final days as a starter. Carson Palmer is an experienced veteran who, past his prime, may accept a backup role. Marc Bulger can be counted on to start a few games. Heck, the Eagles may even bring back Jeff Garcia as the backup, someone who knows the entire playbook and is very popular with the fans.
Or if the Eagles chose to build from within, which is often their style, Marty Morhinweg has called Mike Kafka one of the best rookies he's ever coached. Surely, another year of training camp could do wonders for Kafka and make him a suitable backup.
Therefore, the reasoning that Kolb is valuable as a backup to the team is a valid one, yet holds little water. It would make little sense both financially for the Eagles and would be unfair to Kolb.
Kolb's weaknesses are not well-hidden in this Eagles offense.
Sorry Kevin Kolb fans but Kolb, while certainly a good player, is not a fit with the Eagles team as we currently know it.
Although Kolb is very accurate with the football, has a great deal of speed, and is a tough player, his weaknesses are not overshadowed in this Eagles offense: Average arm strength and difficulty handling pressure.
The Eagles receivers are speedsters and the biggest strength of the Eagles offense is the ability to stretch the field and make big plays. In other words, when DeSean Jackson has a big game, the Eagles almost always win the game. The inability of Kolb and Jackson to make big plays has been painfully obvious. The reason? Vick's superior arm strength gives Jackson and Jeremy Maclin time to get open. Perhaps Kolb would have been a fit on another Eagles team, but on the current Eagles roster he holds back the team's potential.
And while Kolb is mobile, he is not nearly as mobile as Vick and is easily rattled in the pocket. Now this is not entirely Kolb's fault, as the play of the offensive line has often been atrocious in 2010. Yet unfortunately the weakness of the offensive line affects the play of the Kolb. Michael Vick, with all his speed, can elude defenders and buy time for his receivers. Kolb, through no fault of his own, is not Michael Vick and lacks the experience to be cool in the pocket. For example, all those 300 level games, count how many have been against teams with weak pass rushes. Therefore, if he were to be called upon to start, I would be worried about Kolb facing a dominant defense.
Michael Vick is not as fragile as many believe him to be
Of course, another argument I hear tossed around is that Michael Vick, with his scrambling tendencies and at 30 years of age, plays too recklessly and it is only a matter of time before he gets hurt again. But I am here to refute that statement.
While Vick looks scrawny from the outside, he is incredibly built and very durable. He was only hurt against the Washington Redskins game because of the unfortunate circumstance of being sandwiched between two Redskin defenders. Additionally, he did not avoid taking the hit and did not get down, thus increasing the amount of impact he suffered.
Since Vick's return later that season he did not miss a single additional game due to injury. Why? Because he is a durable athlete and, while his sliding techniques are horrible, he has learned to get down or get out of bounds to avoid taking big hits.
From this point on there is only room for improvement. More off-season conditioning to strengthen his body and training with coaching staff to get the ball out faster will only help him to stay more injury-free. Thus, we cannot point to Vick's tendency to be lost for a few games as a legitimate reason to keep Kolb.
The Eagles could fill many needs by trading Kolb, which would be more important than keeping him as a backup
At 26 years of age, with 3 years to sit behind a hall of fame quarterback and a handful of 300-yard games, players like Kevin Kolb are just hitting their prime. And NFL franchises know that. And granted that there will indeed be an NFL season next year, the lack of standout talent at quarterback will only increase Kevin Kolb's trade value.
Consider all the teams that need quarterbacks. San Francisco, Cincinnati, Arizona, Minnesota, just to name a few! And with the reports coming in that the Eagles have already received 1st round pick offers for Kolb Andy Reid should trade his once franchise quarterback once the security of the 2010 season is assured.
With all the holes on the Eagles that must be addressed, keeping Kolb as a backup certainly does not outweigh filling other various needs. A 1st round pick could address the secondary, the offensive line, defensive line, or provide a standout at linebacker. There are so many needs that could be filled and even 2nd and 3rd round picks can be expected to make immediate impacts. It is crucial that the Eagles fill as many of these holes as quickly as possible to compete for the Vince Lombardi Trophy. Which leads me to my next, final, and most important point...
By placing their trust in Vick, the Eagles must contend for the Super Bowl now
Don't get me wrong, this Eagles team has a remarkable amount of young talent and has the potential to be good for many many years. However, taking the reigns away from Kevin Kolb and giving them to Michael Vick, Andy Reid put the Eagles in a win-now mode. Let's face it, Vick, at 30 years of age, is likely to last 5-6 more seasons in a generous estimate, 3-4 years in a realistic estimate. As a result, the emphasis must be on filling the team's holes and giving Vick as many weapons as possible to win the Super Bowl within a few seasons.
No doubt keeping Kolb would not be a poor decision, as his value as a backup is high. Yet, trading him for draft picks who could be immediate starters, or possibly traded for a free agent contributor, would do more to increase the chances of winning the Super Bowl in the near future. There are concerns that Vick may be lost for a large chunk of the season. Yet, that is the risk the Eagles will have to take. Vick gives the Eagles the best chance to win each and every week, which is why Reid made him the starter.
Therefore, the Eagles need to make the right decision and trade Kolb now that they have the chance to increase their chances of returning to the Super Bowl. A capable backup can be groomed or acquired, but Vick is a special player and the Eagles must take advantage of their golden opportunity to help him lead Philadelphia to the promised land.