Eagles need to bring back Kevin Kolb and Michael Vick to quarterback

Eagles backup Kevin Kolb pats starting quarterback Michael Vick on the helmet during Sunday's loss to Green Bay.
Eagles backup Kevin Kolb pats starting quarterback Michael Vick on the helmet during Sunday's loss to Green Bay.
Posted: January 11, 2011

With all due respect to Kevin Kolb, he is not going anywhere. It is great that he wants to be a starting quarterback in the National Football League, but unless some team comes at the Eagles with a ridiculous offer - say, two first-round draft picks, which is unlikely - Kolb is going to be right here next season, backing up Michael Vick.

That is not Kolb's preference, but he is under contract through 2011, and the Eagles most likely are going to hold him to it.

Coach Andy Reid has said it before and I'll say it for him again: In a quarterback-driven league, it is a beautiful thing to have two guys who are legitimate starters on the roster. Reid is not going to give that up, nor should he. The smart football move is to bring back Vick, whose contract expires at the end of the season, as the starter and Kolb, who has one year remaining, as the backup.

Or, just for fun, bring them both back and let them fight it out in training camp, if for no other reason than to soothe Kolb and let him feel as if he has a chance to be the starter.

Kolb will not necessarily like it, but last year the Eagles gave him 11 million reasons why he should be able to stomach it.

Without a new collective-bargaining agreement in place between the league and its players, there is uncertainty hanging over this pending off-season. But when a deal does finally get done, it is expected to provide clubs with a franchise tag. The Eagles in all likelihood will use the franchise tag on Vick and thus pay him the average of the top five quarterbacks in the league, a handsome sum that could be as high as $20 million.

Given Vick's aggressive style, his disdain for sliding to avoid big hits, and his injury history, the Eagles will need a reliable backup who could step in if Vick gets hurt. Mike Kafka is not there yet. Kolb showed this year that he is.

After the Eagles lost to Green Bay on Sunday, Kolb said that, while he would love to return to the Eagles in 2011, he only wants to come back as the starter. It is time, he said.

He might be right, but whether he is a starter is not up to him. It is up to his boss, and his boss made his choice in September. He chose Vick.

"He sure did a nice job this season," Reid said of Vick on Monday.

Told of Kolb's feelings, Reid said: "I'm excited that he wants to be a starter. I think that's very important for that position, and I thought he made improvements this year. I thought he did some nice things, very nice things. I feel very comfortable that he can be a starter in the National Football League. I came into the season feeling that way, and I'm leaving the season feeling that way, and I'm glad he's on our team."

Now, it is entirely possible that Reid said all of that for the benefit of the teams out there that need a starting quarterback, like Carolina, San Francisco, Arizona, and Tennessee.

But it is more likely that Reid really is glad that Kolb is on his team. Kolb provides security in the event that Vick gets hurt. Kolb is a team guy, too. He handled his demotion this season with grace and put the team's goals ahead of his disappointment. It is not his style to hold out or sulk or create a chemistry problem.

Those guys are hard to find.

While Kolb might not want to come back to Philadelphia, it sounds as if Vick does. He is off to Hawaii in two weeks to play in the Pro Bowl, and then he will start his off-season training, which he said would include a lot of film study.

Vick said he was not sure if he will be with the Eagles for 2011, "but I really do hope I am."

"I enjoyed this season. I enjoyed the group of guys that I played with. I enjoyed the success and the progress that we all made as a young team. I think the sky's the limit."

With an improved defense and a better offensive line, it would be hard to argue.

"I think going through a whole training camp [as the starter] and being with Andy . . . would pay huge dividends for me," Vick said. "I'd be excited about that. I've followed the same routine I had last year and will keep the same attitude and the same work ethic."

There is always the possibility that Vick will let the success, and the money, go to his head. On Monday he called himself the "co-MVP" of the NFL, which either shows a troubling disconnect with reality or just how much that award meant to him. Vick lost any shot at the MVP in Week 16 against Minnesota.

Which brings us back to Kolb. With Vick one off-the-field mistake away from getting tossed from the league, it would seem the Eagles need Kolb more than ever.

They would be crazy to let either quarterback go.

Contact columnist Ashley Fox

at 215-854-5064 or afox@phillynews.com.

Follow her on Twitter: www.twitter.com/AshleyMFox.

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