EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. - Kevin Kolb put up 24 points in the first half last night and didn't once give Eagles offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg a throat-slashing gesture to knock it off with the Michael Vick experiment. So the mad science of the mad scientists continued.
It cannot possibly be like this in the regular season, can it?
The Eagles snapped the ball 39 times in the first half against the New York Jets. Vick was on the field for 10 of them. (This was before he took over the offense and did normal quarterback stuff in the second half - and unusual stuff, such as taking an absurd 22-yard sack.) Ten out of 39 snaps is a bunch, somewhere between twice and three times as many as most people expected when the Eagles acquired Vick.
But now that NFL commissioner Roger Goodell has signed off on Vick's full reinstatement for Week 3 of the regular season, we are left to ponder football things above all else - because the rest of it has already been decided, it seems. Eagles president Joe Banner said last night that they're about to get Vick involved in some kind of public appearance involving animal rights, and there was much talk about what everybody has learned, and it appears as if everyone has determined that this will be declared a success off the field.
Which leaves us with the on-the-field. And wondering how close Vick might be to the Vick of old.
"About 90 percent - I'm almost there," Vick said at one point. At another time, asked about the two-game suspension he still must serve, Vick said that he didn't feel as if it was a suspension, that he viewed it instead as "an opportunity for me to get myself together." Still another time he said, "I still think I'm a couple of weeks away." And, still another time, he said, "I think I played fairly well. A lot of things could have been better."
So, you are free to choose your time frame.
Both Andy Reid and Kolb said they saw flashes of the physical player Vick was before his incarceration. Reid said, "I think you got a chance to see he's got a little juice in those legs."
Kolb said, "He showed that burst I think we all wanted to see . . . You can tell the athleticism was there tonight . . . The reads will come."
Vick's overall numbers for the night: 7-for-11 for 26 yards, four sacks and one interception, and seven rushes for 35 yards and one touchdown. You wonder how instructive they are. You wonder more, though, about these numbers: 10 snaps out of 39 in the first half last night. The previous week, it was five official snaps out of the first 20 plays, and Donovan McNabb complained - in words and gestures - that the offense couldn't find its rhythm. Kolb, to the contrary, said, approximately, "I got rhythm."
(Actually, that's not true. What he said was: "For the whole half, I felt like we were in a pretty good rhythm. A couple of drives we let it slip away, but we put up 24 points and, like I said, we had pretty good rhythm through the half.")
That Kolb is a smart, aware kid goes without saying. But this isn't about that. It is about Vick being involved in 25 percent of the first 20 snaps during his first exhibition game, and it is about Vick being involved in slightly more than 25 percent of the snaps in the first half last night.
Can this possibly work?
Is this really the plan?
Is there a plan?
A half-dozen snaps in mostly red-zone situations makes sense, adding a dynamic element to some of the most important plays in a game. By contrast, one snap out of four seems fraught with peril. It seems like just the kind of thing that might stress McNabb beyond whatever the benefit might be.
So was Reid just getting Vick as much work with the first offense as he could, stuffing as much as he could into a truncated summer? Or was this a dress rehearsal for what is coming? It has to be the former, doesn't it? They cannot possibly hand 25 percent of the plays in an already-dynamic offense over to a guy who has spent most of the previous 2 years in prison, can they?
Assessing Vick's pair of exhibition outings, and the question of rhythm, Reid said, "I wouldn't compare it to the first week. The first week, we were just getting used to it."
Overall, Kolb was on the field with Vick for eight of the 10 snaps. And Kolb was right - the whole rhythm thing really wasn't an issue. But nothing is smooth yet about Vick (who, to be fair, wasn't aided much by his supporting cast). Some very visible rust remains. All of that is to be expected, for sure. You have to believe his success will build over time.
But in the here and now, you wonder. Until Sept. 27, there will be no answers. All we have is what we have seen so far. And, well, this can't be what they have in mind - can it? *
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