Some decisions are so controversial that you just have to read both sides and form an opinion. Today on ITI, Ryan Messick and Eytan Shander give you the opportunity to do just that. Was the decision to start Michael Vick a no-lose situation for Reid, or the biggest mistake of his tenure? You decide.
Ryan Messick: Reid’s Biggest Mistake
Making the decision to start Michael Vick over Kevin Kolb after just two games this season was the biggest mistake of Andy Reid’s career. In one day, the Eagles deserted the course they’ve been on for two years to set the stage for the next six to eight years.
I don’t typically inject too much opinion into my writing here on ITI, but this decision just demands debate and discussion. The Eagles series of changes at quarterback since Easter Sunday has been haphazard at best.
I’m not going to tell you that Kevin Kolb is currently a better quarterback than Michael Vick, or that he gives the Eagles a better chance to win this year. I will tell you that Donovan McNabb is better than both, and would have been the Eagles best option to win games in 2010.
By trading McNabb, the Eagles took a path to build for the future with Kevin Kolb. On top of the unloading of McNabb, the Eagles said goodbye to Brian Westbrook, Brian Dawkins and Sheldon Brown over the last two years. Clearly, this was a team looking to get younger and build for the future.
With that said, if the front office is looking to build towards the next era of Eagles football, Michael Vick cannot be the answer. At 30 years old, Vick no longer qualifies to be the future of a franchise. In a best case scenario, he has five or six years of football left.
Kevin Kolb, meanwhile, may or may not be a franchise quarterback. Nobody can say definitively. There’s only one way to find out though, and the Eagles have invested more than enough to give Kolb a season and get their answer. On top of trading McNabb to give Kolb the keys to the offense, the Birds invested a second-round draft choice and more than 12 million dollars, including a 10.7 million dollar signing bonus in Kolb.
At the end of the day, the Eagles may win games this year with Vick, but they’ll either be left in the same spot with an older and less content Kevin Kolb or forced to deal the younger quarterback and start Vick for three to five years, just to do it all over again with a new heir apparent.
The bottom line is that this is an organization that currently shows no overall direction. With Kolb on the bench, they aren’t rebuilding. With Vick starting, they are looking to win now – but if that were the case then they should have kept McNabb and extended him for a few years rather than downgrade to Vick.
In the highly competitive landscape of the NFL, you can’t afford to keep steering your team in different directions on a whim. Today, that’s what the usually steady Andy Reid did. On top of that, he did it at such an early juncture it is truly hard to comprehend.
The Eagles spent more than a year planning the trade of McNabb and the anointing of Kevin Kolb as the starter. Reid spent months heaping praise on his knew signal caller. Yet after just 10 passes by Kolb and 58 by Vick, Reid had seen enough to make the change? That simply doesn’t make sense, and that’s why it is the biggest mistake of Andy Reid’s career in Philadelphia.
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Eytan Shander: A Win-Win for Reid
In the battle between Michael Vick and Kevin Kolb, the clear winner here is Andy Reid. Sure, on Tuesday evening he made what some will deem a very unpopular and ultimately wrong decision while others will stand up and applaud, asking what took so long. But the decision was only part of the genius of Andy Reid’s plan to walk away the victor in this back and forth between the two quarterbacks.
After the team traded Donovan McNabb, the mantra of Reid and the front office was to sell to the city that there was no rebuilding. It was a matter of opening the door for Kevin Kolb to be the leader and future of this football team. But Reid also held on to Michael Vick, the ultimate wild card, a proven star in the league in past years.
This is where Reid truly held all the cards, it was a matter of playing both sides until one of them rose to the occasion and earned the title of starter. The Eagles needed to stick with Kolb as long as possible to keep the illusion that they traded McNabb for a reason, that it wasn’t just about moving on, but in fact was about setting up their future.
They gave Kolb the extension and showed they had the confidence in him early on by giving him the reigns of the team. So Reid went into the season with an unproven commodity at the quarterback position after trading away the franchise player, but the credit goes to the coach because he held an ace up his sleeve.
The ace wasn’t Vick as much as it was the possibility Vick would turn into exactly what he showed in the six quarters he’s played. A guy who reinvented the way he approaches and plays the game, making it clear he is at the very least back to the form he played at before going to prison.
Here’s how the genius of this problem breaks down in Reid’s favor. If Kolb were to succeed as the starter, he’d justify making the trade of McNabb as opening the door for the future of this franchise. He’d also avoid the need to rebuild, or at the very least rebuild at the quarterback position.
The other scenario is the one playing out right now. Vick has been stellar running the offense and scoring points. The team has moved the ball with him in the game, and he has been able to run like the days of old when needed.
Kolb on the other hand hasn’t looked great in the preseason and was horrible in the limited action he saw in the first game of the year. Just as Reid saw something in Vick to keep him around this year, he must have seen something in Kolb that warranted handing over the starting job to Vick.
The bottom line is that Reid walks away on top regardless of what side you stand on. If you wanted Vick in the whole time, well then credit the head coach for taking a chance on Vick and giving him the coaching he never got in Atlanta. Credit Reid for getting more out of Vick in six quarters than anyone got out of him on the Falcons.
If it were the other way around, well then credit the coach for seeing the young talent in a Kevin Kolb, knowing he was the answer for moving on. Tough to say what will happen after this year, but Andy Reid has put his team in a position to win right now and avoided the dreaded term of rebuilding.