Monday, July 6, 2015

John Smallwood: It's time for another 'new' Eagles QB

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Kevin Kolb is making his case to regain the starting quarterback job that was his to begin the season. (Clem Murray/Staff Photographer)
Kevin Kolb is making his case to regain the starting quarterback job that was his to begin the season. (Clem Murray/Staff Photographer)
Kevin Kolb is making his case to regain the starting quarterback job that was his to begin the season. (Clem Murray/Staff Photographer) Gallery: Eagles 31, Falcons 17

IF I WERE Andy Reid, I'd change my mind again.

I'd step up to a podium today and say, "You know that stuff I've been telling you about Mike Vick definitely coming back as the starting quarterback when he is healthy, well, treat that like when I said Kevin Kolb would return as the starter after he got hurt."

If I were Reid, I'd flip-flop like a politician.

After defusing a quarterback controversy for the last 2 weeks, I'd pile up some wood, douse it with kerosene and toss on a match.

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  • Kolb would be my new, old starting quarterback.

    Of course, Reid didn't say that in the moments after Kolb completed 23 of 29 passes for 326 yards with three touchdowns to lead the Eagles to a 31-17 victory over the Atlanta Falcons yesterday.

    "When you're sitting here as a chubby head coach in the National Football League, and you have two good quarterbacks, you're a happy guy," said Reid, who noted that Vick is still the starter. "You take Michael Kolb and we go play, baby. That's what I get paid to do. That's what I do."

    Vick may be the starter right now, but Reid still has another 2 days to break down films before practice on Wednesday.

    We've already seen the change of heart that can create.

    I'd just announce Kolb today.

    The quarterback couldn't have presented a more favorable argument. Against Atlanta, a team that many touted as the best in the NFC, Kolb was outstanding.

    The way the Eagles' offense operated was exactly the way Reid said it would when he anointed Kolb as starter and traded Donovan McNabb.

    Kolb has responded to all the questions that have been raised about him over the last 2 weeks. Those who said Kolb played timid and without confidence made a ridiculously subjective observation from the start.

    Kolb won at San Francisco and beat Atlanta by attacking and dictating.

    "No, I never lack confidence because, although people don't see it, in training camp, practices and, of course, the couple of games I played, there are just certain things that click and you say, 'OK the game has slowed down a lot,' " Kolb said. "I saw that perfectly. When you do that, that's what confidence is."

    Those who said Kolb couldn't make the big throw had to be impressed by the 34-yard touchdown strike to DeSean Jackson and that great pass that hit Jeremy Maclin in stride and went for an 83-yard touchdown.

    "Well, I don't ever doubt it," Kolb said of his arm strength, "and I don't think the guys when they see me throw it in practice, they don't doubt it either.

    "But I guess if there needed to be an answer, then today was a decent day for it."

    This isn't about Vick. His play has been terrific. In his starts against Detroit and Jacksonville, he was 38-for-65 for 575 yards with five touchdowns.

    Vick hasn't done anything to lose the job except get hurt - sort of the same thing Kolb did.

    If Kolb were a typical backup, I'd hand the job back to Vick as soon as he was fully healthy. But this isn't Koy Detmer or A.J. Feeley filling in for McNabb.

    Those guys had no pedigrees. It was easy to put McNabb back in. Kolb is a different story.

    The Eagles drafted him in 2007 with the specific intent of grooming him as their future, which he was for three seasons. And the team had apparently seen enough to blow up 11 years of history with McNabb.

    For whatever reason - most likely Vick's strong play against Detroit - Reid decided to scrap a plan 4 years in the making after one half of football.

    No matter how well Vick played, that still doesn't make sense to me. We never saw enough of Kolb to determine anything.

    But now, and it is unfortunate that it took an injury to Vick, that plan is back on course. More importantly, it looks like a winning formula.

    In his starts against San Francisco and Atlanta, Kolb has completed 44 of 60 passes for 579 yards with four touchdowns. Go back to last season and Kolb has now thrown for 300 yards in three of his five NFL starts.

    With wins the last 2 weeks, the Eagles are 4-2, like a lot of teams at the top of the NFC.

    I don't see the downside in keeping Kolb as the starter.

    I'd be more concerned about losing games while a rusty Vick regains his rhythm.

    Different people will take different sides, but in an equal test sample - two complete starts - Kolb and Vick are on even ground.

    Still, if I'm the Eagles, I stick with Kolb because he is now performing the way you said he would.

    He's running this offense the way you said he could.

    What Kolb has done the last 2 weeks is what the Eagles said the plan was all along.

    If I'm Andy Reid, I look smart right now. Why would I want to arbitrarily change that?

    Send e-mail to

    smallwj@phillynews.com.

    For recent columns, go to

    http://go.philly.com/smallwood.

     

    Daily News Sports Columnist
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