Sam Donnellon: Start Vick vs. Lions

Michael Vick scrambles to find a receiver in the fourth quarter vs. the Packers.
Michael Vick scrambles to find a receiver in the fourth quarter vs. the Packers.
Posted: September 13, 2010

SO HEEEERE we go again, another quarterback controversy in the City of Brotherly Love, after Week 1, no less.

Kevin Kolb?

Michael Vick?

"If Kevin Kolb is healthy, will he be your starter next week?" Andy Reid was asked after the Eagles' 27-20 loss to the Green Bay Packers yesterday.

"Yes," said the Eagles' head coach.

Ah, but what is healthy in the world of head trauma? Passing a verbal test? Both Kevin Kolb and Stewart Bradley did that yesterday, Reid said, or they wouldn't have been allowed back on the field long enough to become nauseous.

"All of the questions that they answered with the doctors registered well," the coach said. "But as it went on, they weren't feeling well. So we took them out."

If we have learned nothing else from the plights of Brian Westbrook, Keith Primeau, Eric Lindros and Simon Gagne - did I leave anyone out? - it is that we don't know what we don't know when it comes to concussions. And that includes team physicians.

One man's bell-ringer is another's man's life of vertigo. One man's quick recovery with no further symptoms is another's course of repeated occurrence.

Bradley's symptoms might have been similar to Kolb's, but their actual trauma might have been worlds apart, and their recovery time weeks different.

Now here's the good news for Reid. He's in a win-win position for next Sunday's game in Detroit. He can try out Vick for at least another week without affecting the starting status of Kolb, even be lauded for his cautious approach by cautious people like me. He can say what I just said above in explaining why he's giving Kolb at least an extra week, proclaiming that he is still his starting quarterback.

Then we can all find out if what we saw in Vick yesterday was real, or the result of one team not preparing for a pass-run quarterback, and of another starting slowly, making far too many mistakes - and suffering some significant early injuries.

The Eagles lost their fullback for the season in the opener when Leonard Weaver's left leg folded sideways under a pile. They probably lost starting center Jamaal Jackson for the season to a torn right biceps.

That seems to imply more passes in the weeks ahead, and more scrambling, too.

After serving his part-time Wildcat role over the first two quarters, Vick took over as full-time quarterback in the second half. Down 20-3, he completed five of six short passes and scrambled for 31 yards during a nine-play, 60-yard touchdown drive and awoke the grumbling masses at the Linc.

Unaware that Kolb was still groggy, they actually had booed The Chosen One during the final ineffective minutes of the first half.

Vick got them on their feet, and for the first time all game, put the Packers' defense on its heels.

"He adds a whole other dimension to the game, particularly with his running skills and the ability to extend plays," Green Bay coach Mike McCarthy said. "Michael Vick is still a very dynamic player."

Kolb, who was pressured into poor throws at times and dangerously telegraphed others, completed five of 10 passes for 24 yards. Vick completed 16 of 24 passes for 175 yards and had another 103 yards rushing.

Some of those rushing yards were planned, some were not. He wishes, you wish, that he had at least 5 more of them. Down 27-17 and facing third-and-goal from the 5 with just under 6 minutes left, Vick scrambled out of trouble and appeared to have a clear path to the end zone. Instead, he tried to jam a pass to DeSean Jackson in the back of the end zone.

When the ball bounced away, he did what you did. He grabbed his head with both hands in anguish.

"Could have been a game changer," Vick said afterward, shaking his head again. The Eagles settled for a field goal, forcing the need for a touchdown in the final minutes.

"It's probably one of the plays that I'll beat myself up over the next few days about," Vick said. "Sometimes you get indecisive and sometimes you want to give guys a chance to . . . "

He didn't finish the sentence and to be fair to Kolb, he didn't finish this return to the main stage. But he has our attention again, and probably the nation's, too, and regardless of what Reid decides today, tomorrow or Wednesday, he will be a big topic of conversation going into next weekend's game as well.

The smart play - the heady play, if you forgive the pun - is for Reid to get out ahead of this one and name Vick next week's starter. Tell everyone Kolb is still your No. 1 guy, that you're just taking the prudent approach at the start of The Chosen One's long, first season.

Then we all get a chance to see if the second half was a revelation or a mirage.

"I feel like if I had been out there for four quarters, maybe we would have had a chance to win the game," Vick said. One game into the Kevin Kolb era, the nagging truth is he's probably right.

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