More Quarterback Drama in Philly

The Eagles 38-10 victory over the turnover-prone Panthers exhilarated many fans in Philly.  But many fans enthusiasm over the win was quickly tempered with the news that Eagles starting quarterback Donovan McNabb had indeed been injured in the Birds’ win. 

In his post-game press conference, Eagles head coach Andy Reid revealed that McNabb had fractured a rib on a third quarter touchdown run.  On the play where McNabb was hurt, he bowled over Panthers CB Richard Marshall then crossed the goal line.  After scoring, Panthers defensive end Charles Johnson appeared to hit McNabb late, but was not flagged on the play.  McNabb then fell stayed on the ground while grimacing in pain. The Eagles all-time leading passer stayed on the ground for a few moments, but eventually left the field under his own power.  The sad part of McNabb’s injury was after his typical slow start, the five-time Pro Bowl player settling into a rhythm.  Even though the Eagles defense was the big story of the game, McNabb had respectable numbers of (10-18, 79 yards, 2 TDs (short passes) and 1 INT) before his injury.  Big 5 even got out of the pocket to run for 27 yards including a 15-yarder that moved the chains.

When Reid was asked about McNabb’s availability in the upcoming weeks including the team’s home opener against the Saints, he said “there’s a chance…McNabb could play next week. We’ll see, the game just got over. We’re taking it day-by-day and see how he does.”  Everyone is guessing 2 to 4 weeks for the injury, but no one really knows.  I personally have talked to older quarterbacks that have played with broken ribs using flak jackets and pain medication – each of the former players had varying success playing through the injury. 

Eagles RB Brian Westbrook, who has had a similar injury in the past, said McNabb has some “sleepless nights” in store as he tries to recuperate.  However McNabb usually is pretty tough – remember he once had a career game playing on a broken ankle against the Cardinals — but only time will tell. Reid said in his Monday press conference, “(The Eagles) won’t put him out there if he can’t function.  But that won’t be determined until later in the week. Reid added, “He is sore, He’s going to try and do everything he possibly can to play this week. We’ll see how that goes. But he’s staying optimistic and everything about that. “

Assuming that McNabb will be out for at least a couple of weeks, all eyes will turn to the Birds’ backup quarterback situation — currently only have two quarterback on their active roster (McNabb and backup Kevin Kolb)).  In the Panthers game, Kolb entered the game with a comfortable double-digit lead but he continued to not look comfortable.  The former 2007 2nd round draft pick’s numbers were okay (passing 7/11 23 yards and 4 rushing yards), but Kolb continued to look tentative in the pocket and often held the ball too long.  The Panthers came after the Eagles “ green” quarterback producing two fumbles, one of which was recovered by DE Julius Peppers after the Pro Bowler sacked Kolb for an 8-yard loss.

Everyone within the Eagles organization seems to be high on Kolb, including the borderline cocky quarterback himself.  But now that it seems his first NFL career start maybe occurring in Week 2 against the Saints, many fans and media around Philadelphia are wondering if the “supposed” future caretaker of the Eagles offense will ever be ready – you can also count me among the doubters.  Last year in a crucial game against the Ravens, Reid benched McNabb in favor of Kolb.  The former University of Houston quarterback provided “Zero” spark to the Birds offense as he threw for numbers: 10 of 23 for 73 yards and two interceptions including a goal line pick that was returned for a touchdown by safety Ed Reed (NFL record 108 yards).

In the few times Kolb has been on the field in regular season games and from what I have ascertained from watching him practice , there are question marks with him. Kolb seems to struggle with pressure, looks to run too quickly and has to work on his pocket awareness.  If he does start against the Saints, It will be interesting to see how new Saints defensive coordinator Greg Williams sets loose his defense led by LB Jonathan Vilma, DE Charles Grant and DT Sedrick Ellis against the Eagles first time starter.  Everything will be on Kolb – career NFL numbers 17-34, 50%, 144 yards, 0 TDs and 4 INTs – to answer his critics or the Eagles may need to look at other options (re-sign AJ Feeley??).

However when McNabb was injured many eyes looked to Philadelphia Eagles Owner Jeff Lurie’s suite on Sunday in Carolina.  I thought I almost heard, “Paging Michael Vick… Paging Michael Vick” announced in the stadium.  Though Vick is not eligible to play until Week 3 (KC Chiefs), there is no doubt that the Eagles went out on a limb to sign the infamous quarterback earlier this summer not as  social commentary, but as an insurance policy.  So  if Kolb struggles, Reid will be redeeming the Eagles’ insurance policy and will not hesitate to give the former 3-time Pro Bowl player a chance. 

So where do we go from here?  First McNabb needs to be thoroughly evaluated then a decision must be made for the Saints game.  If McNabb can’t give it a go, then Kolb gets the first audition and team probably brings back Feeley.  If McNabb still can’t go against the Chiefs, then the real fun will start, especially if Kolb struggles, because  Vick will be eligible and at the front of the line. 

Hey…what will happen next if Vick gets in there and turns some heads without McNabb? Alright I am getting ahead of myself, but you have to love Philly as there is almost always a “quarterback controversy” waiting around the around the corner.

 

Lloyd Vance is a Sr. NFL Writer for Taking It to the House and an award -winning member of the Pro Football Writers of America (PFWA)

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