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Dan Levy
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Dan Levy

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Backing Up Controversy


I'm not quite sure what the Eagles are doing with their quarterback situation right now. A few years back, Andy Reid drafted Kevin Kolb as the heir apparent to Donovan McNabb. Last season, Kolb was thrown into the fire on the road at Baltimore and played like a guy thrown into the fire on the road at Baltimore.

It was inexplicable at the time, but it was a message to Donovan McNabb. Reid seemed willing to shake things up for the sake of shaking up McNabb. The Eagles had just lost to the Giants and tied the Bengals before getting run out of Baltimore, and Reid needed to do something. I suppose it worked, as the Birds rattled off three straight wins, and four of their last five, to sneak into the playoffs. Pats on the back for everyone.

Heading into this season, people had seemingly forgotten about 9-6-1 and remembered just the NFC title game. There were, and still are, Super Bowl aspirations in Philadelphia. When Andy Reid brought in Michael Vick it confused people a great deal, from a football standpoint more than a PR standpoint. Why create a quarterback controversy when you don't need to? Did Reid know that McNabb is a fragile quarterback who rarely finishes the season healthy? Sure he did. We all know that. But why sign Vick to a one-year deal when it was clear he wouldn't be ready -- or allowed -- to contribute right away?

When Vick was signed, it was clear that Reid had declared Kolb a personal bust. If Kolb were even 'serviceable' as a backup, the Eagles never would have signed Vick. It makes no sense for a team to take that kind of PR hit for a player who might get 5-10 snaps a game. Reid had to have bigger plans for Vick, and maybe most of it was McNabb insurance if the starter went down in the second half of the season.

The only problem is, McNabb went down in week one, not week 10. Vick is still suspended by the league until week three, which means that Kolb will have to start next week as the Eagles host the high-powered Saints offense on Sunday. Now, Reid hasn't officially ruled McNabb out, but he has said if McNabb can't go, Kolb will start, and he'll be in charge of trying to stay with Drew Brees and Co. on the scoreboard.

Twice yesterday, Reid said that Kolb is his starter if McNabb can't play -- once before he signed Jeff Garcia and once after. Yes, the Eagles have signed 39-year old Jeff Garcia. It's a move McNabb thinks is smart (when does he not agree publicly with a move the Eagles make at quarterback) but it seems somewhat confusing to the rest of us.

If Kolb is going to start against the Saints, and Vick is eligible to play in week three, why sign Garcia? The guy is a free agent, so maybe he's nothing more than insurance if Kolb gets hurt this week. Garcia does, after all, know this offense as he played in Philly a few years ago. But the thing is, Garcia played so well, he created a quarterback controversy. Some people wanted the Eagles to keep Garcia and trade McNabb. So why bring that guy back into the mix, unless he's going to play? It's the exact same question we had with Vick.

Let's run down the scenarios:

• McNabb is out one week, Garcia was hired as a one-week backup and everything goes back to normal in week three.

• McNabb, even if healthy next week, sits out two games (week three is against Kansas City) with the Eagles bye week in week 4. That gives the QB three weeks of rest.

Now, if McNabb is out three weeks, which most people in Philly suspect, here is what can happen:

• Kolb starts, plays well. Garcia backs him up for two weeks. Vick plays 7-8 plays in week three to get his feet wet at NFL game speed. When McNabb returns, Garcia is cut, Kolb is the backup and Vick is the Wildcat.

• Kolb starts, plays poorly. The Saints run the Eagles out of their own building. Garcia starts week three. Kolb holds the clipboard. Vick plays 7-8 plays in week three to get his feet wet at NFL game speed. When McNabb returns, who do you get rid of? Kolb? Garcia?

• Kolb starts, plays poorly. Vick starts week three. Garcia is a two-week backup and then released. McNabb changes his name to Wally Pipp.

The point in all of this is simple: Donovan McNabb got hurt in week one, and now there are two quarterbacks on the roster he could feel threatened by, neither of which are the guy starting in week two if he can't go. Both Vick and Garcia seem like smart football decisions individually, but the combination of the two will leave an odd man out in week three, or at the latest, week five against Tampa Bay. Is that odd man out Vick? Will they make him into a wide receiver after Reid promised not to? Will Garcia be a rent-a-player and get released as soon as McNabb is healthy again? Will Kolb officially go from project to bust if he doesn't play well against the Saints?

I said a few weeks ago that there will be a quarterback controversy in Philadelphia this season. I just didn't know it would be the backups.

By Dan Levy  |  September 15, 2009; 9:56 AM ET  | Category:  Dan Levy , Michael Vick , NFL , New Orleans Saints , Philadelphia Eagles , Quarterbacks Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
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