Kevin Kolb had done all his due diligence prior to becoming the Philadelphia Eagles' full-time starter at quarterback. As we sat in a cramped P.R. office at the club's practice facility this past June, he told me that he'd spent time mentally preparing himself for how to react in times of crisis.
Something tells me, though, he'd hoped to wait until at least Week 2 of the regular season before putting those mental notes into practice. And complicating matters, he's recovering from a brain injury otherwise known as a concussion. Andy Reid has sounded more like a defense attorney this week than a head coach as he's told us the Eagles followed NFL protocol in sending Kolb and middle linebacker Stewart Bradley back onto the field after collisions in the first half.
I would suggest there's another protocol known as common sense that should kick in when you see a linebacker in desperate need of a designated driver, but that's just me. This was not supposed to be some sort of trial for whether Kolb was ready to be the Eagles' starting quarterback, as has been suggested by at least one local columnist. You don't trade a borderline elite quarterback to a division rival if you're not convinced Kolb's the long-term answer.
Reid and general manager Howie Roseman had said all the right things about their former second-round pick. They seemed almost amused at times that folks like me would have so many questions about the Donovan McNabb trade, in part, because of their faith in what Kolb had shown them in three years of practices and two fairly impressive starts in '09.
But judging by the way Reid used Kolb in the first half of last Sunday's game, you'd think he was trying some sort of soft launch. For the most part, the rollicking '09 Michael Vick Wildcat Experience only served to disrupt McNabb's rhythm. It always felt like some sort of toy that Reid and offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg couldn't figure out how to operate, but they'd spent too much on it (social change) to cast it aside.
The fact that McNabb had been one of the more successful quarterbacks in the league gave him a better chance of fighting through the intermittent Wildcat plays. In Kolb's first game as the full-time starter, was it completely necessary to pretty much let Vick take over the second possession of the game? The Eagles have a first-and-10 at the Packers' 29-yard line -- and Vick loses a yard running to the left side.
Kolb hustles back onto the field to face a second-and-11 situation and things go south from there. To be fair, Kolb played as poorly as a quarterback can in going 5-of-10 for 24 yards and throwing at least three passes that could've been intercepted. But the head coach didn't do him any favors.
It's one thing to place a former star quarterback behind an established player such as McNabb, but it's another to do it with a guy who's trying to find his place in the league. It's funny that some people seemed shocked that Vick would graciously point out after the game that the Eagles might have won had he played all four quarters. Did we go to sleep Saturday night and forget the fact that Vick's a quarterback mercenary who's using the Eagles to rehabilitate his image (and bank account) so that he can start again in the league? And by the way, I have no problem with Vick's desire to chart that course.
But I do have a problem with Reid undermining his young quarterback after one game. We spent the entire offseason talking about how the Eagles had enough weapons to help Kolb through this transition. Now the guy's played one half, and a portion of this fan base is ready to kick him to the curb in favor of Vick.
Surely some folks have pondered the fact that Vick might not be as effective when a defensive-minded head coach such as the Lions' Jim Schwartz has a full week to prepare for him. Vick was brilliant at times against the Packers, but he had the element of surprise on his side. Schwartz has coached against Vick before and something tells me he might have a spy or two assigned to him.
To be clear, the Eagles have both publicly and privately (I'm told) insisted that Kolb will return to the starting lineup once he's healthy enough to play. But if Vick leads the Eagles to a couple wins in the interim, there will be more pressure on Kolb than ever.
Part of that is his own doing, but a lot of it has to do with Reid.