Is the Kevin Kolb “Era” Over Already?
Clay Matthews’ second-quarter body slam of Kevin Kolb Sunday caused more than just a concussion and an avalanche of speculation throughout the Philadelphia region. It reverberated throughout the NFL.
“Michael Vick will establish himself as the starting quarterback after two games,” said the same NFC personnel exec who broke down the Eagles in this very same space last week. “He puts incredible pressure on [defensive] coordinators.” [SIGNUP]
Andy Reid told the assembled inquiring minds after the Eagles’ season-opening loss to the Packers that whenever Kevin Kolb is cleared — and not by a cursory “How many fingers am I holding up?” examination — for football action, he will be the starting QB. After watching Kolb struggled to a 5-of-10 passing performance in the first half and exhibit few of the qualities — pinpoint accuracy, quick release, walking on water — that led the Eagles to send Donovan “I’m 1-0” McNabb to the first-place Redskins, there are no doubt some fans who hope the Eagles are extra careful in their assessment of the injured passer.
The Kolb “era,” as those trying to equate the Eagles’ decision with similarly noteworthy epochs — such as the Bronze Age or Disco — have dubbed it, is one half old, and already there are those calling for its end. Kolb was hardly outstanding during his debut, but to replace him with Vick because the backup had 30 minutes of entertaining but ultimately unsuccessful football is terribly shortsighted. What would it say about the organization if after spending an entire off-season building around Kolb, it benched him? It’s hard enough already to believe what comes out of the team’s collective mouth; this would be the ultimate disingenuous display.
It’s funny how the months leading up to yesterday’s curtain raiser were filled with declarations of patience regarding Kolb. Fans and media who had for a decade demanded a Super Bowl championship or a series of heads impaled on the fence posts surrounding the NovaCare Center were willing to accept an 8-8 record in 2010. They seemed so happy to be free of the drama (and, apparently, success) that prevailed during McNabb’s tenure that they treated Kolb with tenderness. It was almost as if they were vested in his success, since so many of them had clamored for his insertion since the Texan arrived in town. If Kolb did well, then their dissatisfaction with McNabb would be justified. So, let’s give the kid a chance.
The Eagles are fully invested in Kolb, and throwing him to the side now would be ridiculous, even if Vick did have a strong half against a Packers team that had built a big lead and had started to coast. We have already heard the calls for Vick to take over, because he’s the more experienced quarterback. And at 0-1, the Eagles season is in tremendous jeopardy, even though the team is 6-6 in openers under Andy Reid. Giving Vick the job would only postpone Kolb’s education a season. If, as nearly everyone said before the season began, there are going to be some “growing pains,” then it’s best to get them out of the way now, rather than make 2011 the laboratory.
As for Vick, it was easy to be dazzled by his fleet feet and surprisingly accurate arm. (His highest completion percentage for a season is 56.4 percent.) But one of the biggest criticisms of McNabb was his poor fit for the West Coast offense. Vick is even worse for that scheme. If he gets full-time work under center, it would be best for Reid to hire Rich Rodriguez as his offensive coordinator and have him install the spread attack he’s employing at Michigan. Vick is a great runner, but when it comes to the kind of passing skills necessary to run Reid’s offense, he’s behind even McNabb.
In a way, you knew something like this was going to happen. Maybe it wasn’t going to happen after one game, but there was going to be a time when Kolb struggled. Vick might have even ridden to the rescue with a strong performance. Is one half of one game enough to flush an entire plan? Reid traded McNabb to make way for Kolb, not to stage an open competition for the quarterback job.
Vick may get the start next Sunday in Detroit, since concussions don’t always go away in seven days. (See Westbrook, Brian.) He could even play the following Sunday in Jacksonville. Even if Vick leads the Birds to a 2-0 mark and looks like Steve Young in Midnight Green, the job is Kolb’s. This is not about the 2010 season. It’s about the long term. Vick will not be with the Eagles next year. Kolb will. And if the Eagles are interested in building a contender from their young nucleus, as we have heard since April 4, they will stick with Kolb. Yes, Vick might give them the “best chance to win now,” but he’s not a long-term answer, even in 2010. If he plays regularly, teams will create game plans to stop him, rather than adjusting on the fly, as the Packers did Sunday. The Eagles might go 8-8 with both quarterbacks, but at least if Kolb is under center for the duration, he will have gained the experience necessary to move forward.
Vick is indeed dangerous, but in this scenario, he could be hazardous to both the Eagles and their opponents.
• The Phillies haven’t lost a series since the Houston debacle, which bodes well for the homestretch. Keep taking two of three, and they’ll have 95 wins, more than enough to take the NL East and the league’s top record.
• Don’t worry if 2-0 Temple loses its next two, to Connecticut and Penn State. The Owls are the best team in the Mid-American Conference and should win at least nine this year.
• Don’t expect Andre Iguodala to reprise the good soldier role he played during the World Championships, even though he’s best suited as a complementary player. Doug Collins’ challenge will be to keep his swingman from trying to do too much.