Ashley Fox: Sunday's appearance likely won't be Kolb's final one as an Eagle

Posted: January 02, 2011

This should be the final indignity for Kevin Kolb this season, although not his final career appearance as the Eagles' quarterback. Unless a team such as Arizona or Minnesota or Carolina offers a top-10 pick for Kolb before the NFL draft, it is highly unlikely the Eagles will trade Kolb after the season. They need him too much.

As he did to start this unpredictable season 17 weeks ago against Green Bay, Kolb will start for the Eagles at quarterback in the season finale against Dallas at Lincoln Financial Field. But the fourth-year quarterback will be without the toys with which he opened the year. Although head coach Andy Reid would not confirm it on Friday, DeSean Jackson will not play. Neither will LeSean McCoy, Brent Celek, or likely three-fifths of the offensive line.

Kolb will have to fend for himself against the Cowboys' pass rush. He likely will have Jeremy Maclin until Maclin pulls in 46 receiving yards to reach 1,000 for the season. He will have Jason Avant for a time. And then Kolb will have to make do with a bunch of guys we will not see much of in the postseason.

Can you say Chad Hall?

Fitting, isn't it?

It must be said that the 26-year-old Kolb has handled his situation this season with as much grace as anyone could expect. In April, he was beaming the day after the Eagles traded Donovan McNabb to Washington, recounting how Reid had called to tell him he was the new franchise quarterback. Kolb had been so patient over three seasons as McNabb's understudy. He was so proud, so expectant, so ready to begin the next phase of his career.

Throughout minicamps and training camp, Reid never wavered. There was never a hint that Michael Vick could become the starter. There was no quarterback competition, no controversy, no drama, until Green Bay's ridiculously talented linebacker, Clay Matthews, kicked off his season by chasing Kolb out of the pocket and pounding him into the turf, leaving Kolb with a concussion and a season derailed.

Before Week 3, Reid made an out-of-character flip-flop that defined this season, choosing Vick as his starter and benching Kolb. It was an abrupt move made on a Tuesday, 24 hours after Reid had said Kolb still was his guy.

The starting job has not been Kolb's since that September day, at least not really, nor should it have been, given the way Vick stepped in and took ownership of the team. Reid was, and remains, right to have given Vick the starting job and to have stuck with Vick after Kolb filled in for three weeks while Vick nursed injured ribs. Vick deserved his Pro Bowl nod. He has been that good, and he is a key reason the Eagles are 10-5 and locked in as the No. 3 seed in the NFC.

Kolb never complained publicly. "I'm just not that kind of person," he said on Friday, but no one would have blamed him if he were.

Kolb kindly called 2010 "a strange year." The quarterback upheaval has been unprecedented, at least during the Reid era. Reid sticks with his guy, he does not change guys - at least until this year.

In the postseason, when the speed of the game gets ramped up, it is not out of the realm of possibility that Kolb will get another chance. Vick is one big hit away from being finished. Kolb knows it. That is why, even with so many starters likely to sit, this game will be very important for Kolb, who has not played a significant snap in two months.

"When I first heard the news, I was obviously very excited to get back on the field, but also to make sure I'm fully prepared if something did happen [in the playoffs]," Kolb said. "That was like the first thing that clicked in my head. Mike takes some shots, and like you said, everything is amped up in the playoffs the further and further you go. Hopefully we go all the way to the Super Bowl, and I want to make sure I'm as prepared as possible for my team."

That could be very important for this postseason and beyond. Though anything can happen between now and the start of the 2011 season, the guess here is the Eagles will end up using the franchise tag on Vick and retaining Kolb as the backup. They have already paid Kolb, and he is under contract through next season. Unless some team makes an out-of-this-world offer, the Eagles need Kolb too much to trade him.

So this game against Dallas is not Kolb's final tryout for the Eagles or the 31 other teams in the league. It is just another chapter in this crazy season for a player who has endured one personal disappointment after another.


Contact columnist Ashley Fox at 215-854-5064 or afox@phillynews.com. Follow her on Twitter: www.twitter.com/AshleyMFox.

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