Thursday, September 23, 2010

Michael Vick Promotion Might Haunt Philadelphia Eagles' Andy Reid

PHILADELPHIA - SEPTEMBER 27: Michael Vick #7 of the Philadelphia Eagles substitutes with team mate Kevin Kolb #4 against the Kansas City Chiefs on September 27, 2009 at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Chris McGrath/Getty Images)

After Tuesday's stunning announcement, Andy Reid has seemingly painted himself and the Philadelphia Eagles into a relatively small corner. 

Reid's about-face in naming Michael Vick the starting quarterback until further notice surely has the potential to back fire on many fronts.   

On the surface, it would be difficult to argue that Vick has provided a spark to an otherwise moribund Eagles offense and would appear to give the team a better chance to win in the here and now. 

The post Donovan McNabb incumbent starter Kevin Kolb showed very little reason to believe that he was about to lead the team to a successful season— let alone become the next Aaron Rodgers as he had been routinely billed over the past several months. 

Although he never made the comparison, Reid himself consistently praised Kolb's ready for primetime capabilities and big upside potential as he figuratively pinched himself everyday to believe that he could be so lucky. 

Perhaps Reid was whistling in the dark? 

Perhaps he was forced to unload McNabb as some have speculated and needed to create a positive spin for fans as well as build the young QB's confidence?  

Perhaps he started to realize that he and the "so called young guns" overestimated Kolb's abilities or readiness with every misfired pass, every bad read, every unsuccessful effort to deal with a heavy pass rush, and every three and out through the pre-season. 

The only sense of hope was that when the curtain went up on the regular season, everything would magically click. After all, everyone knows— pre-season NFL games mean nothing. 

Unfortunately, things never fell in place for Kolb when the games started to count. Although his body of work was just two quarters, Kolb looked overmatched and devoid of confidence. 

Perhaps this sent shivers down the spine of Reid and the rest of the Eagles brain trust who had made such a  bold decision on Easter Sunday?

And, speaking of the "young guns", they seemed to quickly jump on the Michael Vick bandwagon. 

This is the same group that expressed pleasure when McNabb was traded and Kolb was installed as his successor. Subsequently, the group's recent enthusiasm for the former "NFL rock star" seemed to suggest greater confidence in Vick. 

With arguably the best quarterback in franchise history now enthusiastically wearing a maroon and yellow uni in the Nation's capital, there was no turning back. The Eagles brass had confidently looked forward to the "Kevin Kolb Era" as if it was a foregone conclusion that it would be filled with similar, if not greater, prosperity. 

As doubt transitioned from a creep to a steady flow— up stepped the pre-incarceration version of Michael Vick. Sleepless nights could be diverted for awhile why Reid and staff further evaluated Kolb or figured out the cure for his lackluster play. 

But, this all comes at considerable risk. Reid and team now have very little wiggle room and the potential for future troubles. 

Although it has been suggested that he has a tough exterior, it is reasonable to surmise that Kolb is smarting from a sense of abandonment by his coach and possibly the "young guns" who were singing his praises just months earlier. 

What if Vick's performance tails off?

Let's not forget that a UCLA Bruins colors-clad McNabb racked up something like 600 yards and 70 points in a half versus the same Detroit Lions team a couple years ago. 

Just like it was unreasonable to expect that McNabb would replicate that same level of play throughout the season, it is dangerous to assume that Vick will impersonate Steve Young in his prime the rest of this season. Even Reid described Vick as "playing out of his mind"— which tends to suggest a temporary state. 

What if Vick falls prey to the injury bug that is the occupational hazard of a 30-year old running quarterback?

In both of these scenarios, it would be very difficult for Reid, Kolb, and his teammates to simply hit the "reset" button and rally again around the "Kevin Kolb Era."

What if Vick continues to perform at a very high level throughout the 2010 season? 

Does a 31-year old become the QB of the future for the same team that just launched into a youth movement by jettisoning its more accomplished 33-year old signal caller? And, it is worth noting for a quarterback that has not been known for the pinpoint accuracy that the team was seeking for its West Coast offense. 

Perhaps Tuesday's move was simply "pure genius" on the part of Reid? 

With Vick having set the bar very high, the offensive line currently battered and broken, and Kolb not hitting on all cylinders— perhaps the risk of playing is greater than being unceremoniously benched after one half of live action? 

Only insiders really know the thought process as Reid and company continue to be unwaveringly vague and elusive when addressing the media. 

No one knows how it will all play out. As we have already seen, fate can quickly twist and turn in different directions. 

Maybe Vick will put together the best season of his career and lead the team to success. Or, maybe it will all get very messy.

One thing we can likely count on, though, is that the 2010 Philadelphia Eagles season will not lack for drama. It brings to mind a sage observation of the world around us—  real life can often be stranger than fiction.   

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