The amount of time wasted by the Philly-area media and fans on an artificial QB controversy has been absolutely mind-boggling….no… earth-shattering… befuddling…confounding… astounding and most of all – LUDICROUS!
From the moment Donovan McNabb was traded (dumped), Kevin Kolb was anointed as the Eagles starting QB – present and future. Mike Vick was too busy celebrating his 30th birthday to notice, but the Eagles organization was trying to trade him all offseason. Unsuccessful, the Eagles changed Vick’s job description from “trade bait” to “backup QB” – though not by choice. There were no takers for Vick, a proven NFL veteran QB and accomplished athlete with a troubled past and a questionable work ethic. However, no one in the media or fan base really seemed to care because Andy Reid & Co. had proclaimed Kolb was The Man (sorry Chase Utley), Vick was the veteran Backup and rookie draftee from Northwestern Mike Kafka would be carrying both their clubs.
After just one half of football, that plan of action has been waylaid, Kevin Kolb (5 of 10, 24 passing yards in his debut as “The Franchise”) and MLB Stewart Bradley both suffered concussions and were knocked out in the season opener. Sometime between Kolb’s concussion and Stewart Bradley’s unfortunate swan dive, Mike Vick became the Eagles starting QB. Vick responded by nearly bringing the Eagles back against Green Bay, finally falling a TD short (27-20 in an ugly loss). Now, granted Vick did not run the offense flawlessly. Vick (16 of 24, 175 passing for 1 TD/0 INT plus 103 rushing yards on 11 attempts) often bolted at the first sign of trouble or made unwarranted acrobatic passing attempts on the run, but he did infuse some life into what previously looked like a moribund offense. There were very few bright spots but rookie Eagles Nate Allen
(who became the first Eagles rookie to grab an INT in his debut since Eric Allen) and Brandon Graham played like veterans in their debut. Center Jamaal Jackson said goodbye (torn biceps/triceps surgery) for the year as did LT Jason Peters (sprained right knee but returned later in the game). Fullback Leonard Weaver is out for the season (with a gruesome broken leg & torn ACL) and the way that Stewart Bradley’s concussion was virtually ignored until he collapsed unconscious on the field was embarrassing. Meanwhile, Kolb is still suffering from the effects of concussion and will not be cleared to play in Week 2 (he may be listed as the emergency QB behind Kafka) so for the time being, Michael Vick is the starting QB for the Philadelphia Eagles.
Injuries are part of every NFL game. Scores of players spend their whole offseason, training camp, OTA and preseason games preparing for the regular season only to get knocked out for the year on the first play. Normally players are not supposed to lose their starting job because of injury and while that may be true on some philosophical plane of ethereal existence, there is nothing esoteric about the NFL. There’s a game next week and no coach or player or owner has the luxury of waiting until all of their players are at 100%. You have to play with who you’ve got and if you don’t like it then you shouldn’t be in the NFL.
Andy Reid proclaimed Kolb as the Eagles unquestioned starting QB heading into Training Camp and the team rallied around him. This remains unchanged in the words of Reid, Kolb and most of the outspoken Eagle players. “Kolb is Our QB.” The problem is that Reid is still the coach and he should be tagged with this loss. Reid’s poor clock management and inherently flawed gameplan have become tiresome – and after 11 years they are predictable. The Eagles have virtually no running game and even when they do try to punch it in from short yardage they are called for a penalty or they don’t make it (because they ask Vick to run rather than a halfback or fullback).
Now that Kolb is hurt (at least for this week), we the fans and media have the rare chance to see what Michael Vick’s true stock may be. Nearly 4 years removed from being a perennial All-Pro and an exciting talent, the Michael Jordan of the NFL is as passé as… well… Michael Jordan. All athletes fight the enemy of age, clinging preciously to their youthful athletic ability and attempting to augment that with savvy, skill and experience. However, this is an anomaly. Michael Vick is only 30 years old. He is finally back in NFL shape, has his legs back under him and was not subject to the wear and tear of 2 entire NFL seasons. Vick might as well have the body of a 28-year-old and he used to be one of the most dynamic players the NFL had ever see. Fran Tarkenton-meets-Gayle Sayers-meets-Jerry Rice.
The Eagles face the Detroit Lions in Week 2. While the Lions don’t resemble the gladiators from the Roman Coliseum (or even the Green Bay Packers for that reason) they are a professional NFL squad and have had a week to study tape on Vick. Last week against a solid Green Bay defense (who didn’t have the need to gameplan for Vick), the Eagles replacement QB ran rampant, often creating accomplishment amid chaos. Vick bought time with his legs and made throws that Kevin Kolb may never have made. The two quarterbacks could not be less alike but throughout NFL history, scrambling QB have had marginal success at best – usually choosing to convert themselves into pocket passers or play another position. Sound like anyone else we used to know? Scrambling QB with a big arm and no fear about flinging the ball to any receiver in any situation at any time? Came out of Syracuse and now plays down in Washington, DC? 11 years, 5 NFC Championships games, one Super Bowl, no World Championships… What was that guy’s name? It’s on the tip of my tongue…Cunningham? Van Brocklin? No that’s not it…
Boisterous fans on a litany of radio call-in shows will not stop burning up the phone lines. Some scream for Vick, others for Kolb but they are all wasting their time. Michael Vick will start in Week 2 vs. Detroit. Kevin Kolb will be medically assessed regarding his concussion early next week. Then and only then will the team make a decision based on Kolb’s medical status and Vick’s performance. This is going to shake out predicated upon those two outcomes. The REAL controversy will occur in the event that Kolb is cleared to play in Week 3 vs. Jacksonville and Vick lights up the scoreboard like a pinball machine vs. Detroit in Week 2. Then what happens? Not juicy enough for you? Week 4 features the Washington Redskins heading into Lincoln Financial Field so that Donovan McNabb can face his former team and former fans. I’d say McNabb has a better chance against his former teammates than the fans. Keep your helmet on!
About the Author
Written by Christopher Rowe
Contributing writer Comcast Sports, NY Times contributing stringer 1996-2000, Contributing writer Yahoo Sports (2001 World Series). Contributing writer Newsday Long Island (1992-1994, Jets Training Camp) and Newak Star Ledger. Freelance Copywriter, Editor/Founder Atlantic Times Weekly (1993-2003) fantasy football magazine, produced screenwriter and general humorist. Hofstra University grad, Marist College honorary alum, Salesian; Purveyor of the Value and Valor of Philadelphia Eagles 1960 NFL Championship; Adrent believer that Eagles could have won Super Bowl XV...and Super Bowl XXXIX...plus modern decade of Eagles 5 NFC Championships... Believer in the Broad Street Bullies and the 1983 Sixers... Witness to Philadelphia Phillies World Series championships 1980 & 2008, Suffered Phillies first pro sports team to reach 10,000 losses,witnessed "1980 Cardiac Kids," 1983 "Wheeze Kids," 1993 "Macho Row" and many, many, many not-so-memorable seasons in-between... until the Philadelphia Baseball Renaissance of 21st Century, Five NL East division titles 2007-2011, 3 NLCS appearances 2008-2010, 2 consecutive World Series berths 2008 & 2009. 2008 World Champions of baseball [miss ya Harry and Richie]; "collector" of MLB ballparks (42 stadiums including 15 which are gone); Fantasy Football & Baseball player since 1992. Always a sports fan... Tenui Nec Dimittam Contact me firstname.lastname@example.org