BY MIKE WOLVERTON SPORTS GUY What a messed-up Eagles season it has been so far, and we’re only a quarter of the way home. In Game 1, it was the beginning of a brand new era for the franchise (remember the optimism of the Kevin Kolb Era, version 1.0?). In the first quarter of that first game, Kolb was out with a concussion, Era 1.0 over. In the intervening weeks, Mike Vick established himself as the Eagles’ top dog and a possible MVP candidate, and the Birds entered their second home contest Sunday as the leader in the NFC East. Then in the first home quarter of the Reinvented Mike Vick Era, version 3.0, he gets injured. Back comes Kolb, only this time without all the optimism. Eagles fans can’t make it through a quarter of football at The Linc without having their team turned upside-down.
So what kind of effect did losing Vick have? Major. Kolb just didn’t look comfortable, and he never was able to get Maclin and Jackson involved in the game. Those explosive playmakers are what make the Eagles offense go. In the end, Kolb’s numbers look decent, but seemingly all of it came on endless dumpoffs to LeSean McCoy, against a soft Redskins defense looking to protect a lead. Kolb also connected with his tight end, but came close to connecting with Redskins defenders on several passes. I admit that I bought in to The Kevin Kolb Story during the offseason, and I was willing to give him a pass on his Game 1 performance against a tough Packers defense. But Sunday’s effort has me really worried about Kolb as a franchise starting QB.
I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the end-of-half goof that cost the Birds a possible four points and a tie (they would have kicked the extra point after TD #2 instead of going for two). The Eagles had a 4th-and-goal inside the one yard line, but took a delay of game penalty after a lengthy video review AND a time out. TV analyst Troy Aikman was anxious to blame the officials, who shouldn’t have started the play clock while Andy Reid was questioning the placement of the ball. But the Eagles have an eighteen-man coaching staff (not including the Nutrition Consultant), someone has to be aware of what is going on. If the play clock was started prematurely, someone has to alert the officials. And if they don’t get it stopped, they’ve got to be ready to go with a play. Over seven minutes passed between the third-down play and the delay of game! And don’t tell me you were going to run a different play depending on whether the ball was half a yard away or three quarters of a yard. The Eagles might have gotten a raw deal there, but were far from blameless. Maybe they would have gotten stuffed on 4th-and-goal; or maybe they would have scored and gone on to win the game.
There was one more quarterback involved in this game – good ‘ol Don McNabb. It warmed my heart to see him get such a great ovation from the fans; the normal, sane fans of this city drowning out the booing knuckleheads to give McNabb the welcome he deserved. And McNabb rewarded them with a performance that encapsulated his 11-year tenure in Philadelphia…one excellent half with some beautiful passes, a couple of clutch runs, and one brutal half with passes skipped to his receivers and no points. In fairness, the Redskins took the ball out of his hands in the second half by pounding away with Portis and Torain. But the few chances he had to put the Eagles away resulted in the opposite – he helped keep the Birds in it.
Nevertheless, Week 4 goes to McNabb. I’d have given him a 10-8 edge on our 10-point must system, but dude completed 2-of-11 for 10 yards and a pick in the second half.
DONOVAN McNABB vs. EAGLES QBs, 10-point must scoring system
McNabb Eagles Notes
Week 1 10 8 Kolb brutal, concussed. Redskins win
Week 2 9 10 Huge numbers for McNabb, Eagles win
Week 3 8 10 Vick destroys Jags; Skins lose
Week 4 10 9 Vick injured; McNabb shaky, Skins win
Totals 37 37
After four weeks, this competition is even, and each team has a 2-2 record. What the Eagles have learned, which was reinforced against the Redskins, is that Mike Vick is their best option at quarterback. Now they’ll wait on the injury report to see if he’s an option at all.