Ashley Fox: Did Reid betray Kolb?

Posted: September 21, 2010

At least Kevin Kolb got a $10.7 million signing bonus before his coach emasculated him. He's got that money, and little else, now that Andy Reid has done an about-face and installed Michael Vick as the Eagles starting quarterback.

It's quite possible that this is the right decision for the Eagles to win - and win now. Certainly Kolb did little to pad his resume during a shaky preseason and an even shakier half of football in the season opener against Green Bay.

But to hear Reid say last night in a hastily called news conference that "the future of Kevin Kolb is not slighted by this one bit," is laughable. Kolb's career in Philadlephia is in serious jeopardy. Reid shipped Donovan McNabb, his franchise quarterback for 11 years, to a division rival because, after three years as McNabb's apprentice, Kolb was ready to be the man.

Now he's not the man, not even close. Kolb has been stripped of his status as the starter after little more than a half of football during which Reid did him no favors by shuttling in Vick every other play. Kolb undoubtedly has lost a locker room that was staunchly in his corner even before the Eagles traded McNabb to Washington.

The Young Guns, as Jeffrey Lurie called the young offensive skill position players, wanted Kolb. Now that they've gotten a taste of Vick Take II, it'll be difficult, if not impossible, for them to shift their allegiance and their trust back to Kolb - if Kolb ever gets the chance again.

How can Kolb look at this as anything other than betrayal?

Reid said he spoke at great length with Kolb during Monday and Tuesday. Although Reid wouldn't divulge the details of those conversations, he said that Kolb "would like to be the starting quarterback of this football team, and I wouldn't expect anything less. This is one of the most competitive kids I've been around."

Reid also tried to spin this as a positive for Kolb and his "maturation process," saying a fourth year riding shotgun on the sideline "allows him to continue to learn, and he'll do that."

At this point, the only way Kolb will learn is by doing. And as the backup, he won't be playing and he won't be taking reps in practice with the first team. He'll be watching. And waiting. And understandably seething.

Kolb is the son of a coach and a football lifer who has been nothing but a team player since he walked into the NovaCare Complex as a second-round draft pick in 2007. But this has to be a devastating development.

The thing is, Reid had the perfect excuse to shelve Kolb for a couple of weeks and find out if Michael Vick's play in six quarters was an aberration or the real thing. Kolb suffered a concussion in Week 1. No one would've questioned Reid had he said that, given all of the complications and concerns surrounding concussions, he was going to proceed with caution in bringing Kolb back. Reid might even have been praised for taking a conservative approach.

Reid had to sit Kolb for the Detroit game, but he didn't have to reveal that Kolb would be back as the starter this week. He could've sat him for the Jacksonville game. And then, if Vick was still playing well, Reid could've sat Kolb for the Washington game, given how emotionally charged that atmosphere undoubtedly will be with McNabb back in town.

My initial thought after Kolb suffered the concussion was we wouldn't see him until Week 5. Now, we might not see him at all, at least not this season.

But it's a good thing for Kolb. Just listen to the coach.

"He wants to be out there and he wants to play, and his day will come here," Reid said.

Kolb's day was supposed to be now. He wasn't the future. He was the present. And now he's back on the sideline in a role he knows well.

"Michael Vick is playing out of his mind right now," Reid said, "and that's a beautiful thing. . . . This allows [Kolb] to continue to learn, and he'll do that."

The only thing Kolb is going to learn is that his marketability in the National Football League has been vastly diminished, as has his standing in the locker room. His career here could be over before it even really begins.

It's possible Reid really is doing Kolb a favor by protecting him from the onslaught of pass rushers future opponents will send his way, given the Eagles tattered offensive line. But given the ramifications of stripping Kolb of his starting job, that's a stretch.

For me, I'd rather watch the Michael Vick I saw last Sunday than the Kevin Kolb I saw against the Packers. But to build Kolb up for the better part of 5 1/2 months only to strip him of his status after 30 minutes of football is more than harsh, and it'll be challenging, if not impossible, for Kolb to recover.

At least he's got a few Benjamins in the bank for his trouble.

Contact staff writer Ashley Fox

at 215-854-5064 or

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