The Eagles’ Worst Nightmare

In just one half of not-too-shabby play, Michael Vick has given the fans a taste of forbidden fruit

The Eagles have created, and are currently living within, their worst nightmare. After only one game of the NFL’s regular season, the football team has a quarterback controversy. In so creating that, the team has already starting digging the grave of the QB they anointed as the future of the franchise.

Kevin Kolb or Michael Vick?

With Kolb getting hurt at the end of a woeful one-half stint where he looked like an amateur, then Vick coming in and nearly rescuing the team with his video game acumen, the Eagles have given their fans — and even the players in their own locker room — a taste of the forbidden fruit. They showed off a guy who actually moved the football, and made a few dazzling, highlight reel plays and that beats the conventional every single time. It’s like using the good china that’s been locked under glass for years. Once you take it out, you can’t so without the sparkle. [SIGNUP]

But then that good china chips and cracks and then what do you have?

There are so many layers to this tale, that we must sort them out one-by-one. But let’s start with this one: the Eagles mixed up the chemicals for this kind of quarterback combustion when they agreed to keep Michael Vick on the team.

The master plan for Vick was to bring him on for that one season, the last season of Donovan McNabb, just in case McNabb got hurt. Kolb wasn’t ready yet, and if McNabb got hurt, the team needed at least someone with NFL experience to carry them the rest of the way in what they thought would be a legitimate playoff run season. They had no intention of paying Vick in the second year of a deal that guaranteed him $5.5 million. But then the suits in the front office saw that there were no buyers for Vick in the off-season — they weren’t about to take a paltry seventh-round draft pick for him and figured, like the used car that’s in your driveway, it’s better to keep the asset because it still runs, then just give it away for nothing.

But once you have the good china in the closet, you are always tempted to use it. And so it was with Vick. The Eagles were incessant in that they had to figure Vick somewhere in the offense game plan. So they fiddle-faddled with the Wildcat. And then put him into certain offensive formations. And all the while Kolb, the quarterback who got all the off-season fanfare as the next ONE, is saying to himself, “What the hell is going on here?” Andy Reid kept jerking the kid out of the lineup in the pre-season when the kid needed all the time he could have on the football field, especially in red zone situations. And then, on play one of the NFL season Sunday against Green Bay, Reid sends Vick into a configuration play. That had to make Kolb feel great.

Now, I don’t know if Kevin Kolb can play. I’m not sure any of us can really trust Andy Reid’s judgment on players lately (see the Andrews Brothers, Shawn and Stacy, Macho Harris, Quintin Demps, et al), and Reid is the guy who has nurtured and cultivated and announced to the world that Kevin Kolb is the quintessential “West Coast Offense” quarterback. But I know I need to see Kolb more than one half of the first game of his first season as a starter, to determine whether he in fact can play.

The amusing part in this whole caper is how Michael Vick, in only one half of football, has become Joe Montana all of a sudden.

Lest we forget, Vick is the same guy that, before he went to prison, was the guy everyone in Atlanta was saying would be better off in this league as a wide receiver or some kind of hybrid back. He took the Falcons to one NFC title game — that was the year he went 11-4 as a starter. Other than that, he was mediocre. He has never thrown for 3,000 yards in his career. He has always had a poor completion percentage. And his career quarterback rating is 75.5. In his final season as a Falcon, the Atlanta fan base (and they are about as milquetoast as a fan base can get) booed him. Vick responded by giving them the finger. And then in the off-season, he and his buddies killed a few more dogs.

Michael Vick is a video game, a freak show. If the NFL was a league where you could just take a snap, look down the field for a second, then run to daylight, he’d be an All-Pro. But it ain’t that. You actually have to be a quarterback in this league to succeed. And now the Eagles have given their fans a taste of the forbidden fruit. The apple looked really good to Adam and Eve that day too.

What happens if Vick — who undoubtedly will play against the Detroit Lions this weekend and probably at Jacksonville the following week due to Kolb’s concussion — wins both games? Who then is the starting quarterback for the big home game against the Washington Redskins on October 3? If it’s Kolb, then he’d better complete his first 10 passes of the game and lead the Eagles to a touchdown on their opening drive. Because every incompletion, every overthrow, every sack, is going to be accompanied by loud grumbles and boos. And that will do wonders for the Boy Wonder’s already fractured confidence. And then they’ll have to go back to Vick, which will set the Eagles re-building plan back one full year.

It is the Eagles’ worst nightmare.