Eagles need to take a 'bye' week
December, 30, 2010
By Matt Mosley | ESPN.com
Jason O. Watson/US PresswireThe Eagles could give Kevin Kolb the start at quarterback on Sunday.I heard ESPN's Sal Paolantonio say something interesting on a Philly radio show Thursday morning. Sal Pal believes with all his heart that Michael Vick and DeSean Jackson should be on the field Sunday against the Dallas Cowboys if they're anywhere close to healthy.
He believes it's important for the mental makeup of this team to somehow recapture the "magic" before heading into the playoffs. I respectfully disagree. Vick spent most of the game Tuesday night hobbling around between plays because of a thigh contusion. Jackson is one of the most dangerous weapons in the league, but he was locked down by the likes of Asher Allen (seriously) in Tuesday's loss to Minnesota and didn't really look like himself.
As I've examined my Andy Reid archives this morning (the glory years), it's pretty obvious the Eagles' coach will make sure Vick and Jackson don't get anywhere close to the field against the Cowboys. (And the Philadelphia Inquirer is now reporting that Kolb will indeed start). I communicated with Kolb via text message Thursday morning and he still hadn't been told about his status for Sunday, but he did tell reporters that he took the first-team snaps in the morning walk-through session.
But for at least a day, one of the best rivalries in the league should take a back seat to common sense. This should be one last chance to showcase Kolb to quarterback-needy teams around the league, and there are several. Nothing against young Johnny Skelton in Arizona, but surely Ken Whisenhunt would prefer to have Kolb zinging the ball downfield to Larry Fitzgerald. I've heard rumblings the Cardinals might have interest in Donovan McNabb, but that may change if their personnel folks gain access to Redskins game film from this season. And despite what Joe Webb just did to the Eagles, the Vikings would be wise to consider Kolb as a backup plan to Brett Favre's next un-retirement party.
The Eagles blew a shot at a first-round playoff bye, so now they need to do the sensible thing and take an in-season bye. I have this one friend in the Dallas-Fort Worth media who loves to hop on the radio and talk about the "intergrity of the league." He believes one of the wonderful things about the NFL is that the owners have made a pact to always put their best foot forward in order to promote their product. Of course, this so-called pact has been undermined by the gouging of season-ticket holders during preseason games featuring fringe players and the fact that Tony Dungy and Jim Caldwell have delighted in resting their starters at the end of the regular season, even when a perfect season was on the line.
The league has done a good thing to schedule all these late-season division matchups, but it hasn't found a way to force Reid into giving this nation what it thirsts for: Michael Vick vs. Stephen McGee on Sunday. This whole "integrity" argument suggests the Chicago Bears should play to win against the Green Bay Packers on Sunday even though they'll likely find out before kickoff that the game has no bearing on their playoff seeding. The New York Giants are hoping the Bears put their best foot forward out of respect for the league, but Tom Coughlin's team had two golden opportunities to take care of business on its own. I don't think Lovie Smith owes it to Coughlin to possibly risk injury to Jay Cutler in an attempt to honor some unwritten code of competitive ethics.
Reid and offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg need to spend the next few days working on a larger issue while resting their starters. This offense has been bailed out so many times by Vick this season that it has actually eliminated the old-fashioned concept of balanced play calling. I realize Reid and Mornhinweg aren't going to suddenly lean on the running game, but they could help Vick immensely by mixing in a screen or two. With Kolb in the lineup Sunday, I believe you'll see a much more balanced approach.
As evidenced by that embarrassing home loss to the Vikings, the Eagles have become too reliant on Vick. They know every team's game plan is designed to get as many shots on him as possible, so why not figure out ways to get the ball out of his hands earlier? He made some really poor decisions Tuesday and he didn't secure the ball in the pocket.
But it's not too late for the Eagles to figure out how to help their quarterback. He's gotten this team this far. Now might be a good time to give the man a break.
I still think the Eagles will be a dangerous team in the playoffs, but it's time for them to realize that Vick can only take a team so far.