Posted by: mdegeorge | October 4, 2010

The quarterback situation’s always murky in Philadelphia

Well, you asked for it. And now, back by popular demand, another week of debating who should be under center for the Eagles.

It started with the optimism of a day that would settle all doubts. Michael Vick, fresh of a handy disposal of the Jaguars last week, would utilize his first home start as an Eagle to solidify Andy Reid’s confidence in him. It was the perfect storm: a way for Vick to simultaneously silence any critics still harboring belief that either of the Birds’ previous two starting quarterbacks—Kevin Kolb and Donovan McNabb—should still hold the reins to the offense. Kolb and McNabb were even so good as to be in attendance at Lincoln Financial Field so that Vick could deliver his statement in person.

[picapp align=”center” wrap=”false” link=”term=philadelphia+eagles&iid=9908557″ src=”http://view1.picapp.com/pictures.photo/image/9908557/redskins-quarterback/redskins-quarterback.jpg?size=500&imageId=9908557″ width=”500″ height=”407″ /]

But an impromptu Vick sandwich, with Redskins Kareem Moore and DeAngelo Hall playing the bread, late in the first quarter sent Vick to the x-ray machine, Kolb to the huddle, and the quarterback controversy into overdrive for another week (and beyond).

It felt like the Linc was on the verge of a collective monologue like Obi Wan Kenobi at the end of Episode III. (You were the chosen one! You were supposed to bring balance to the backfield, not leave it darkness!)

That feeling grew more palpable with every Kolb check down and dump-off. It was as if the Eagles were so worried about the qb situation (on both sidelines) that by the time they realized they actually had a game to win, they had already spotted the Skins a 17-3 lead.

Perhaps posterity will remember this day in a positive light; a mere blip on the radar of a mediocre season, a division loss that is par for the NFC East course, far overshadowed by one of the classiest acts in the area since, what, the ratification of the Constitution.

But in the short term, much like a Christmas sans lousy sweaters and eggnog hangovers, the talk about McNabb will be done and dusted by Tuesday like it never happened.

That leaves fans with the gravity of the quarterback situation that lies ahead, a debate featuring distinctly more shade of gray than green.

Let’s assume Vick is out next week. (To avoid association with a popular Eagles’ fan trait, let’s be clear that I’m not rooting for a serious injury and am glad his x-rays were negative. I’m just hoping from a neutral perspective that the shuffling continues.)

The play-calling duties then would fall to Kolb, something less than reassuring for Eagles fans after today. He finished 22-of-35 for 207 yards with one touchdown and one interception. His passer rating of 70.6 was anything but stellar (though it was better than that Donovan guy’s 60.2).

But we can’t totally blame it on Kolb. For one, Reid and Marty Mornhinweg put the play-calling stricture on a la Rex Ryan, dialing up screen pass after ill-fated screen pass for the Skins’ linebackers (led by the ageless London Fletcher) to make meals of.

[picapp align=”right” wrap=”true” link=”term=philadelphia+eagles&iid=9909398″ src=”http://view4.picapp.com/pictures.photo/image/9909398/washington-redskins/washington-redskins.jpg?size=500&imageId=9909398″ width=”234″ height=”152″ /]

If Kolb’s 35 pass attempts, just under half went to running backs: 11 to LeSean McCoy (nine completed), four to fullback revelation and professional scary looking dude Owen Schmitt (three completed), and two to Mike Bell (one completed).

Factor in the six times he targeted Brent Celek, and that leaves just 11 throws, or 31 percent, for wide receivers. Kolb couldn’t seem to find DeSean Jackson in the grips of the Redskins bracket coverage, completing a mere two of the six passes thrown his way for 13 yards. Jeremy Maclin was equally non-existent, reeling in just one ball for 15 yards.

The one receiver he did consistently target, Jason Avant, did him in by failing to reel in the Hail Mary at the buzzer despite having two hands on it.

Let’s bring the day full circle. On 97.5 The Fanatic this morning, Michael Bradley and Brian Seltzer explained what many seemed to forget: McNabb, for all his flaws, was seldom the sole reason why the Eagles faltered. Yet it seemed no one justly divvyed up the culpability to the many responsible parties (a defense that for all its bluster had crucial off-games, a meager receiving corps, the management responsible for scraping the bargain bin to assemble said squad0.

All too often while he wore green, the fans seemed to forget that about McNabb, though they undoubtedly atoned in large measures with their uncharacteristically warm welcome.

Now, with a bevy of quarterback issues still to debate, they’d be well advised to apply that same discretion.

So, in grading Kolb’s performance, perhaps it’s relevant to note that he’s three weeks removed from a concussion, took a backup’s share of snaps this week in practice, and was thrown into the fray down two scores with a defense offering little in the way of resistance to an offense that managed a paltry 16 points against the St. Louis Lambs last week.

And let’s not forget that if Avant is able to keep his mitts on that final throw—a matter of inches over which Kolb had zero control—he would be a hero instantly inserted into the pantheon of Eagles’ greats.

Just something to keep in mind for the 344 people who in a poll on philly.com as of midnight had chose Mike Kafka as turning in the best quarterback performance of the day (despite never putting down a clipboard). Too bad only 237 people (or seven percent less, if you’re scoring at home) took note of the case for Kolb.

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Responses

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