Bob Ford: For Kolb, a day of irony

Posted: October 03, 2010

In a season already marked by strange switches and unexpected twists, of course Kevin Kolb would end up being the quarterback who faced off against Donovan McNabb in his first game back, just as the script had been written from Easter Sunday until Concussion Sunday.

It couldn't have happened any differently, and if you like irony with your football, all it took was a rib injury to starter Michael Vick, just as all it took last season was a rib injury to McNabb to get Kolb the first under-fire audition that must have really impressed the coaches.

"I've been a backup long enough to know you are just one play away," Kolb said Sunday. "That's how you have to approach it."

What Kolb didn't know as he began the season as the starter was that he was only one play from losing that job, too. The first-half scramble that ended in a concussion against Green Bay turned out to be that play and he might never have gotten on the field again if Vick hadn't been hurt on a scramble of his own.

Kolb may not appreciate the irony and he didn't bite when asked if it would be fair for Vick to lose the starter's job because of an injury. Even after being jerked around this season, he still plays safely to the middle of the fairway.

"I don't know the situation," Kolb said. "We'll see when we get in there."

What we will see is whether Vick has cracked ribs, broken ribs or no ribs. The team was tight-lipped Sunday night pending Vick's MRI examination. We know the Eagles didn't have to have him put down, so that's something. If Vick misses a game or more, Kolb will be getting his second chance this season, and it has already lasted longer than his first chance.

"You want to be out there as much as possible. I'm a competitor. I want to play. I want to win," Kolb said. "It's vital to our team and to our season that we go out and win next week. I hope I get the opportunity, but we'll see what happens with Mike's injury and go from there."

It's nice that he's excited, but we are still a long way from where games are vital to be won. Sunday's 17-12 loss to the Redskins was a bad loss to a bad team, but it won't be a crippling blow if the Eagles get things together.

One bit of good news is that the Eagles have an offense that is so precise and intricate, there is a huge difference between a fourth-down play designed to gain one foot and a fourth-down play designed to gain two feet.

Kolb, Reid and offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg dialed up just such a play right before the half, but couldn't adjust when the ball wasn't spotted where they thought it had been, and the resulting delay penalty turned a touchdown opportunity into a field goal.

That's just the way it goes, because, of course, there's no possibility the play could have gained two feet. It was a one-foot play! At least, that's the explanation Reid gave with a straight face.

Well, whatever. If the play had miraculously gotten them into the end zone from two feet away - quite a stretch, granted - then David Akers might have been trying a field goal at the end of the game to win it. Instead, Kolb was throwing a Hail Mary to Jason Avant. The prayer was very nearly answered, because the Redskins goofed up the coverage, but the Eagles didn't get that lucky.

Kolb was all right at quarterback, although Washington's deep coverages turned everything the Eagles did into a dink-and-dunk contest. The Redskins were betting Kolb couldn't get them all the way down the field like that and, for the most part, they were right.

"We had some chances," Kolb said. "People play me and Mike a little bit differently. I thought we had stuff in there to make the plays. They force you to nickel and dime 'em and be accurate."

He was 22 for 35 and didn't have a play that went for more than 18 yards. Vick, even when it doesn't happen, has more quick-strike ability, and that makes defenses take more chances than they like. The Redskins took none against Kolb.

"It's still the same offense," Avant said. "The things you see Mike do is not a design. It's just something that happens. The offense never changes."

Well, something changed when the Eagles went from Vick to Kolb on Sunday. There's no way of knowing if they would have won the game with Vick. His first two drives ended in punts, and he was injured on the third. But the short evidence of his play after replacing Kolb is that things happen. On Sunday, not much did.

"There were some big plays we missed out on and I've got to fix the mistakes," Kolb said.

If the way Vick was walking across the locker room after the game is any indication, Kolb will get another chance. Maybe he's just one play away from winning back the job. Maybe he's just one play from losing it again. This season, neither would be that surprising.

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