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Friday, November 5, 2010
Eagles QB: Michael Vick or Kevin Kolb?

By John Fisher

Philadelphia Eagles head coach Andy Reid has made three different starting quarterback announcements this season, mostly due to injuries, and finds himself with two healthy signal callers this weekend with the Indianapolis Colts in town. Who should it be?

Kevin Kolb, Reid’s second-round pick in 2007, and his hand-picked replacement for Donovan McNabb? Or Michael Vick, the former No. 1 overall pick who was named NFC Offensive Player of the Month in October?

Vick has been sensational this season, with a league-leading 108.8 passer rating, and six touchdown passes without an interception. That’s already the most touchdowns that Vick has ever thrown in one season before his first interception. He’s also averaging 7.2 yards per carry and nearly 50 rush yards per game.

Kevin Kolb
Kolb
Kolb, on the other hand, has been no slouch. He’s thrown for at least 200 yards in every game but Week 1, when he didn’t play in the second half, and that includes a 326-yard, 3-TD performance in a win against the Falcons. And he’s completed more than 62 percent of his passes on third down with a passer rating of 93.3, with more than half of his completions having gone for first downs.

But Vick has been even better on third down, and for that and many other reasons, he is the Eagles’ clear choice. Twelve of Vick’s 16 third-down completions have been for first downs, and he’s averaged 10.1 yards per pass attempt, nearly double Kolb’s average.

But the real difference is when it comes to the deep ball, as Andy Reid likes to chuck it down the field. In 2008 and 2009, Philadelphia had 120 pass attempts thrown more than 20 yards from scrimmage, and 25 attempts thrown more than 40 yards downfield, both seventh in the NFL in that span. Some might say that had more to do with McNabb’s strong arm, but it coincides nicely with the arrival of big-play threat DeSean Jackson.

Michael Vick
Vick
While Kolb has completed 36.8 percent of his downfield throws (21 yards or more from scrimmage) with two touchdowns, he’s also thrown three interceptions for a passer rating of 80.4. Vick has completed 35.3 percent of his passes downfield, with two touchdowns and no picks, and his passer rating of 122.8 ranks third in the NFL (min. 15 such attempts).

Lastly, the Eagles should consider their matchup with the Colts on Sunday. Indianapolis blitzes less than any team in the NFL, sending five or more pass rushers on just 18.1 percent of opponents’ pass plays. Vick has been a much better passer this season against four pass rushers or fewer, while Kolb has yet to throw a touchdown, and has thrown all four of his interceptions, against five or more rushers.