Someone got hold of this season's script and crumpled it somewhere along the way. If there was going to be a quarterback to step in and replace McNabb, continuing the solid, organization-guy role that had been established for a decade, it was supposed to be Kevin Kolb, the heir apparent.
That script changed and changed again, and now there appears to be no going back unless Vick gets hurt during one of his frequent scrambles. Vick isn't just the best quarterback option for the Eagles. At the moment, he's the best quarterback option in the league.
"I'm happy for him," McNabb said, "[but] not tonight. I told him I'm [mad] at him. But I told him to stay humble and good things will continue to happen for him."
Good things are happening for Vick, who is rebuilding his career after missing two seasons in prison. Not so good so far for McNabb, the refurbished contract notwithstanding, but at least humility won't be a problem for him after Monday night.
Vick's resume is incomplete but growing rapidly. He has started and finished only four games this season, and all four have been wins. He led the Eagles to touchdowns on their first five possessions on Monday and the game between division rivals was essentially over by the end of the first quarter. Earlier this season, with Kolb replacing an injured Vick in the first quarter, the Eagles lost to the Redskins, 17-12.
There's no reason to feel sorry for someone who has been awarded a fat new contract, but the contrast in this game between the quarterback the Eagles traded away and one they have now was dramatic. McNabb was harried all night and operating without some of Washington's best offensive weapons, but he wasn't very good. He threw three interceptions, all of which led to Eagles touchdowns. McNabb looked old and slow and, as he stood in the pouring rain, taking this terrible beating, more than a little miserable.
If this was supposed to be a matchup of serious division rivals, that was a letdown as well. The Redskins were trash-talking before the game, with some of the Washington defenders, including safety LaRon Landry, trying to intimidate receiver DeSean Jackson.
"We can't let that happen," Eagles safety Quintin Mikell said. "We went right back at them."
On their first play from scrimmage, Vick rolled out of a play-action fake, pulled up, and heaved the ball more than 60 yards in the air to Jackson, who had beaten Landry on the route. The result was a lightning strike of a touchdown and the beginning of the rout.
"One thing no human can explain is momentum," said running back Jerome Harrison, who chipped in with his own 50-yard run for a touchdown.
The Eagles have been hard to explain this season, too. They have been capable of beating the Atlanta Falcons and Indianapolis Colts, and also capable of losing to these Redskins and to a so-so Tennessee Titans team.
Under coach Andy Reid, however, the Eagles have a history of drifting through the first part of the season, then gaining their stride for a push to the finish. If that is what is happening here - and one thumping win over a dispirited team shouldn't count for everything - the Eagles could be riding the rejuvenation of Vick somewhere special.
"I don't know. I think we can be Super Bowl contenders," said tight end Brent Celek. "But we've got to be more consistent."
The first test of their consistency arrives Sunday night at Lincoln Financial Field, when the Eagles play the New York Giants, a division rival more legitimate than the Redskins. Scoring 59 against Washington won't help when that one starts.
"This is a beautiful thing tonight, but it's nothing further than tonight," Reid said. "We can't add it onto next week."
Still, this is the direction they began to take when McNabb was traded to the Redskins on Easter Sunday. The organization chose to leave behind the known and march into the unknown. The Eagles thought they would be marching behind Kolb, but now they are sprinting to keep up with Vick.
At some points of the game on Monday, it seemed as if Reid wanted to punish the Redskins, who rewarded McNabb with the contract, but embarrassed him with a puzzling benching two weeks earlier.
Vick stayed in the game longer than necessary, and the offense kept dialing up pass plays long after the game was well in hand. Maybe Reid just didn't want the night to end.
Whatever the motivation, Vick stayed in and the offense kept its foot on the accelerator. Left behind in the exhaust fumes was some guy who used to be Donovan McNabb. Maybe it wasn't supposed to end that way. There was supposed to be more drama, and some morals to the story that made sense.
Not this time, though. Enjoy the contract, Donovan. See you next season.
Contact columnist Bob Ford at 215-854-5842 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Read his recent work at http://go.philly.com/bobford.