Our Starting Quarterback

Why it's time to bench Michael Vick

It’s borderline amazing to see how quickly Eagles fans vaulted off the Kevin Kolb train this season, choosing to abandon the man they heralded as the right quarterback after the Birds shipped Number Five to Little Danny’s All Stars in D.C.

Here’s a quick rewind for those of you whose hard drives were erased along with Kolb’s after the QB had his gray matter rattled in the first half of the opener by Green Bay’s hirsute Clay Matthews: [SIGNUP]

* April – Donovan McNabb traded. Wild celebration ensues. Fans spend hours combing Jersey Pinelands in search of wild hogs to gut as sacrifice to new QB god.

* May – Mini-camps prove conclusively that Kolb is much better at throwing nine-yard crossing patterns than was McNabb, thereby making him ideal West Coast quarterback. Receivers dream of huge YAC totals.

* June – Mysterious transformation occurs. Eagles fans speak of “patience,” a quality that hadn’t been present among the faithful since sinks were designated unofficial urinals by line-hating 700 level denizens in 1974.

* July – Heretofore hard-boiled handicappers declare 2010 a “transition year” and insist that an 8-8 record will be just fine, so long as the Eagles’ young weapons continue to mature. Unicorns rumored to be frolicking on Broad Street.

* August – Panic is nowhere to be found as Kolb and Eagles offense sputter repeatedly in red-zone situations during pre-season games. Fans can be heard shouting, “Serenity now!” while watching futility.

* September – Kolb suffers concussion in opener. Michael Vick takes over. Fans call for trading of former darling to UFL.

Which brings us to the present. Sunday night, against a 49ers team that appears criminally inept, Kolb was efficient and productive, completing 21-of-31 passes for 253 yards and a touchdown. His 67.7 percent completion rate and 103.3 QB rating were first-rate, and the fact that he survived the game without serious bodily harm despite playing behind a line that included Max Jean-Gilles at guard and King Dunlap at tackle (in place of the injured Jason Peters) is borderline remarkable. Kolb looked poised, confident and aggressive.

In other words, he looked like a starting quarterback.

This was what was supposed to happen this season. Kolb would grow into the job, defeating teams like San Francisco, while struggling with the tougher opponents on the schedule. He would master the offense, experience all of the growing pains inherent with the first year on the job and emerge from 2010 in firm control of the offense and with an incandescent future.

His concussion changed that. Once Michael Vick started dashing around the field, making big plays and channeling Steve Young, the Eagles behaved like happy family men who notice a young lovely staring at them across the bar. Instead of realizing what they have and opting for stability and loyalty, they go for the new model and often end up disappointed and having lost everything. Vick dazzled the league in wins over Detroit and Jacksonville, and the Eagles — be it Andy Reid or the great minds at the Nova Care Manhattan Project — abandoned it all for the chance at immediate gratification. They reasoned that because the future is never guaranteed in the National Football League, they must go with the hot QB, even if said passer brings with him just as many questions (short and long-term) as does Kolb.

When Vick was injured against the McNabbs, Kolb came back and did just about what Vick did when he was called in from the bullpen in week one. He led a comeback that ultimately failed and then looked sharp in his first start. Kolb ought to get another chance Sunday against Atlanta, since Vick’s painful rib injury will likely require at least another week to heal. Kolb deserves it.

He also deserves to be the starting QB for the rest of the season. The Eagles’ shortsighted romance with Vick has caused turmoil within the franchise and led to a dismissal of a carefully crafted plan designed to affect a relatively smooth transition from McNabb to the future. Flirting with Vick and creating a scenario in which the team must decide whether to sign him for the long term does not benefit the franchise. Kolb may not be a first-rate NFL quarterback, but no one knows that. Jerking him around is bad management and potentially damaging down the road. And if the move to start Vick was motivated by petty jealousy over the Phillies’ success, then the Eagles might as well start staging halftime concerts by Elvis’ ghost or planning human sacrifices, because they are no longer in the business of winning football games.

The plan was to give Kolb a season — and then another — to grow into the job. The Eagles must stick with the plan. The 49ers are putrid, but Kolb did what a good QB does against rotten teams. One suspects he would have done the same against Detroit and Jacksonville, had he been healthy. In an NFC that appears on pace to become the textbook definition of parity, there is still a chance to make a (gulp) playoff run. More importantly, there is an opportunity to do the right thing for the future. Choosing Vick over Kolb trashes a plan that was years in the making and offers no guarantees. Kolb is no lock, either, but he sure seemed like the team’s — and people’s — choice back in April.

Against the fetid Niners, Kolb did the job. The Eagles must resist the urge to return to Vick and stick with the man they felt was best for the long term.

Unless the Phillies make it to the World Series. Then, they need to find Jimi Hendrix to play the national anthem before their next game.

• Thanks for stopping by, Cincinnati. That implosion Friday was world-class. The Giants should be tougher — provided they finish off the choking Braves — but both championship series are really pre-cursors to what should be an epic World Series between the Phils and Yankees.

• Just wondering whether Brett Favre’s Wrangler jeans have a special pocket that allows easy access to camera phones. If any of what is being alleged about Cowboy Quarterback is true, he must be suspended. And that family man legacy he worked so hard to cultivate will be out the window.

• Wonder if the Flyers ever thought they would have a Russian in goal, back when they were beating up the Soviet Red Army team in 1976. It’s very early, but Sergei Bobrovsky looks pretty good, even if he is just keeping the crease warm for Michael Leighton.