Eagles' Reid faced with tough QB call

Posted Oct. 18, 2010 @ 4:44 p.m.
Posted By Eric Edholm

The bad news is that Eagles head coach Andy Reid has a brutally difficult decision to make at quarterback. The good news? He has two very strong options from which to choose. The team traded Donovan McNabb to make room for Kevin Kolb, the QB the team handed the keys to this offseason. Then he got hurt and gave way to Michael Vick, who was the flavor of the month in September. After Vick went down with a rib cartilage injury, Kolb stepped back in and won his next two starts. Now Reid must decide how to play his hand with both men likely to be healthy down the stretch. The Eagles' season depends on it.

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Reid has ended some of the drama for now by naming Vick — when he's healthy — as his starter. It was Reid's statement once upon a time that a player could not lose his job to injury, though, and he demonstrated that principle was out the window when Vick first replaced Kolb, who suffered a concussion in Week One.

Vick will get his shot at some point, but likely not until after the Eagles' Week Eight bye. They'll almost certainly use Kolb on Sunday against the Titans in Tennessee, but they also will have to do it without WR DeSean Jackson, who suffered a serious concussion on a vicious hit from Falcons CB Dunta Robinson. Like Vick, Jackson probably won't see the field until at least after the bye week.

But Kolb proved he can work without Jackson, hitting Jeremy Maclin for an 83-yard score and hooking up with him for five of his seven receptions after Jackson left the game. Maclin finished the game with 159 receiving yards and two scores. Kolb also got WR Jason Avant, an oft-forgotten target, and TE Brent Celek involved; both players will be key figures against the Titans.

So what happens if Kolb has another strong performance on Sunday? And what if Vick comes back in after the bye and struggles? Reid will be faced with an incredibly tough decision. Switching quarterbacks isn't like rotating running backs or swapping left guards. Even with the versatile Vick, who spent last season rotating in as a change-of-pace specialist, Reid must back one player for each game. It would seem preposterous to think Reid actually could go with the hot hand, making weekly a decision on who would be under center, and it would make Reid's weekly tug-and-pull sessions with the media more circus-like.

We know there will be at least one more QB change when Vick returns. And if Vick can play anywhere close to the level he did before getting hurt, Reid will have made a good call. But you'd have to think that Kolb has at least one more gasp in him. The way he has stood up to the pressure the past two games can't go overlooked. He was nothing short of excellent on Sunday and made a rising force in the NFC look pretty ordinary by taking the game over and not letting the Falcons get confident despite knocking Jackson, who had scored twice, out of the game.

The old saying of "if you have two quarterbacks, you have none" no longer appears to hold water, at least not in Philly. The question now becomes which man will carry this team through the crucial part of the season.