Eagles coach Andy Reid has named Michael Vick the starting quarterback, the team announced tonight in a stunning reversal. The move appears to be for the season.
Reid said the decision came down to Vick's strong play and will allow Kolb to continue his development.
"Michael Vick deserves the opportunity," to keep playing, given how well he has played, Reid said. "Right now, Michael Vick's the starting quarterback for the Philadelphia Eagles."
Reid called Vick an "ex superstar who now has regained his abilities."
"Michael Vick is playing out of his mind right now," Reid said, while praising Kolb as well. "What a lucky franchise and a lucky head coach I am to have two quarterbacks that I feel that way about. It's unbelievable."
UPDATED: Guard Todd Herremans wrote on his Twitter account, "I feel that whoever management decides gives us the best chance of winning should be our qb."
Vick clearly has won Reid's confidence with his play over the past six quarters.
"Very few quarterbacks can go out and play the way he's played the last couple weeks," Reid said. He said Vick was able to move when needed and make throws down the field, even under pressure. He cited Vick's ability on third down, in particular.
Reid said the decision had nothing to do with Kolb's recent concussion.
"Kevin's fine. This is not an injury related issue."
He said Kolb can still be a "championship level quarterback" but needs an "opportunity to mature."
Asked if this was the toughest decision he has had to make, Reid said "tough, but tough in a good way."
He painted the decision to bench Kolb as a way to help him grow, even after three years on the bench.
"I actually think this helps Kevin Kolb's maturation process," Reid said, adding that it will allow Kolb to continue to learn. "The future is bright for Kevin Kolb."
Still, it is hard to see how Kolb can get another chance after having an entire off season devoted to him, only for Reid to put him back on the bench after one half as a starter.
"If anyone believes that its good for Kevin Kolb's development to sit on the bench, I’ve got some real estate to sell you," NFL Network analyst Mike Mayock said on the air.
Vick's mobility, in particular, is something the team thinks they need to win now behind a shaky offensive line, according to a team source, though Reid denied this in his press conference.
The Eagles leadership was unified in its decision on the starter, according to a front office source.
The decision is a sharp change for Reid, who on Sunday said Kolb would start Sunday in Jacksonville. Asked then if it would be hard to go back to Kolb given the way Vick played against the Lions, Reid said no.Vick himself said Monday that Kolb would start.
Looking back on Monday's press conference with hindsight, though, it appeared that Reid left the door open that day when asked again about Kolb's status.
"We’ll just see how it all works out," Reid said Monday. "I'm not here to justify one over the other, I’m not doing that. I told you before, I’m very proud of Michael. Michael’s a great player. Michael was one of the all-time great ones in this league at one time and he’s on his way back. I think we were able to see that and I think that’s a great, great thing. Kevin’s future is, he hasn’t had the same experience here as Michael has, but his future is a bright one.”
Asked about getting Vick on the field, Reid said, "Yeah, Michael will be out there. We’ll see how it goes.”
The Eagles have invested three years in grooming Kolb and have touted his potential all off-season, even extending his contract. But Vick's dazzling play in six quarters against the Packers and Lions apparently were enough to change even Reid's mind.