Following the Eagles’ disappointing 34-14 loss to the Dallas Cowboys in the wild-card round of the 2009 playoffs, head coach Andy Reid decided it was time to part ways with the first player he had ever drafted: six-time pro Bowl quarterback Donovan McNabb.
On April 4th, the Philadelphia Eagles traded McNabb to the Washington Redskins for a second round draft pick (which they later used to select Nate Allen) and a conditional third or fourth round pick.
Kevin Kolb, who was drafted in the second round of the 2007 NFL draft and had served as the Eagles’ backup quarterback for the past two seasons, was officially named the starting quarterback for the 2010 season.
Eagles fans had mixed feelings on the leaving of McNabb, but most were optimistic on the future of Kevin Kolb, who was immediately proclaimed the starter for 2010 despite three-time Pro Bowl quarterback Michael Vick also on the roster.
Then again, in two starts early in the 2009 season, Kolb performed above expectations. He threw for 391 yards and two touchdowns (along with three interceptions) in his first start, which came against the eventual Super Bowl champion New Orleans Saints. And the following week, he was named NFC Offensive Player of the Week after accounting for three total touchdowns against the Kansas City Chiefs.
And Michael Vick had barely played since the end of the 2006 season. Who knew if he had what it took to still lead the team?
Heading into the 2010 season, the rave on Kolb was pretty high. Experts figured that he would suffer through the usual growing pains of a first year starter, but most picked the Eagles to win at least eight games.
But the 2010 season went nothing like anyone expected.
In the season’s first game, Kevin Kolb and the Eagles faced the mighty Green Bay Packers, who would go on to win Super Bowl XLV. Kolb struggled, completing 5 of 10 passes for just 24 yards. He was knocked out of the game with a concussion on a hard sack by Green Bay linebacker Clay Matthews.
Backup quarterback Michael Vick entered the game in the second half with the Eagles trailing 13-3. Although they still lost 27-20, Vick performed admirably, completing 16 of 24 passes for 175 yards and a touchdown, and rushing 11 times for 103 yards.
Kolb’s concussion hadn’t healed the following week, so Vick was given the start against the Detroit Lions.
Again Vick was brilliant. He completed 21 of 34 passes for 284 yards and two touchdowns, and rushed for 37 yards on eight carries. He led the Eagles to 35 points and their first vick-tory of the season.
The next day in his weekly press conference, head coach Andy Reid announced that Kevin Kolb was still his starting quarterback, despite Vick’s excellent play in the last six quarters.
But just 24 hours later, Reid again called a press conference to announce that he had reviewed the tapes again and he thought it was best for the future of the Eagles if Michael Vick started at quarterback.
The decision to start Vick over Kolb was obviously a controversial move for Reid, and created lots of skepticism among Eagles fans. Most were happy that Vick was starting over Kolb, based on Kolb’s horrendous performance in the season opener against Green Bay, but few expected the magic of Michael Vick to continue as it had.
By starting Vick over Kolb, Reid basically announced that he expected the Eagles to compete that year, instead of building for the future. He likely saw that the rest of the NFC, particularly the Dallas Cowboys, were a lot weaker than expected, and he figured that the Eagles had a chance to compete for an NFC title with Michael Vick at quarterback.
In his first game as the Eagles’ new starter, Vick threw for three touchdowns and ran for a fourth in a blowout win against the Jacksonville Jaguars. He also continued to demonstrate his new ability to beat teams with his arm as well as his legs, and Reid immediately looked like a genius for inserting Vick as his starter.
But the next week, disaster struck, as Vick suffered a rib cartilage injury against the Washington Redskins. The Eagles lost the game, and Vick was sidelined for the next three games.
Kolb led the Eagles to victories over the San Francisco 49ers and the Atlanta Falcons. He was named the NFC Offensive Player of the Week for his three-touchdown, 326-yard performance against Atlanta.
Reid never fully announced whether Vick could play the following week against the Tennessee Titans, but he chose to rest Vick for one more week and start the red-hot Kevin Kolb.
The move backfired, as Kolb threw two interceptions and the Eagles lost by 18 points.
After the bye week, the Eagles continued using Vick as their starter. He turned in two of the most memorable individual performances of the season: a four passing, two rushing touchdown performance against the Washington Redskins on Monday Night Football, and a historic four touchdown game against the Giants, in which he led the Eagles back from a 21-point deficit halfway through the fourth quarter to a dramatic 38-31 victory.
Although Vick took countless hits from his opponents, especially in the later weeks against the New York Giants, Houston Texans, and Dallas Cowboys, he remained healthy and the Eagles, for the most part, kept winning.
A flat performance against the Minnesota Vikings on Tuesday Night Football, as well as a thigh injury to Vick, led to Reid sitting Vick (and many other starters) for the season’s final game against the Dallas Cowboys. By this point, the Eagles had already clinched the division title but could not finish higher than the third seed.
In the postseason, the Eagles lost 21-16 to the eventual Super Bowl champion Green Bay Packers, the same team who is ironically responsible for Vick winning the starting job in the first place.
Since the season has ended, the Eagles have announced that they have given Michael Vick their exclusive franchise tag, meaning he will remain with the Eagles in 2011.
Kolb, who had kept silent during the entire tumultuous season, announced that he wanted to either start for the Eagles or play elsewhere in 2011.
Since Kolb won’t be starting for the Eagles next year, the Eagles are currently looking to trade him.
After just one season, the Eagles’ decision to start Michael Vick over Kevin Kolb appears to be a wise decision. Vick has turned into a complete quarterback for the first time in his career, winning games with his arm and his legs.
But Vick’s ability to read blitzes from the defensive backfield, as well as his ability to remain healthy for the 2011 season, will likely be the key to the Eagles’ 2011 season.