Michael Vick wants to be a starter, but it won’t happen in Philly

By Chris Murray

For the Chris Murray Report

Somehow, you knew at some point it was going to happen, but I didn’t think it was going to happen this soon.

The dawn of the Kevin Kolb era in Philadelphia Eagles football begins not with a bang, but with a whimper wrapped up in the enigma of a possible quarterback controversy.

After Kolb left the Sunday’s opener against the Green Bay Packers with a concussion, backup quarterback Michael Vick provided a huge spark to an offense that was lifeless and hearing boo-birds from fans at Lincoln Financial Field during the first half.

In that second half, Vick was 16-of-24 for 175 yards with one touchdown and 103 yards rushing on 11 carries. The Birds compiled 275 yards of offense and 13 more first downs in the second half after finishing the first stanza with 49 total yards and three first downs.

But Vick’s gallant effort wasn’t enough to beat the Packers, who came away with a 27-20 win.

During the course of Vick’s efforts, Eagles fans on social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter were clamoring for the three-time Pro Bowl signal caller to be the Birds starting quarterback. In one of my fantasy football leagues, a team that was once called “Kolb and Company” changed its name to “Kolb Sux.”

As good he looked for a half of Sunday’s game, don’t expect the Eagles to make Vick the starting quarterback anytime soon unless Kolb suffers a major season-ending injury. During his Monday press conference, head coach Andy Reid made that quite clear, saying Kolb is still his No. 1 guy. To be honest, I don’t expect Vick to ever be the starting quarterback of the Eagles no matter how well he performs as a backup.

All that said, though, Vick proved that he is still a starting quarterback in the NFL and has become a better passer than he was in the past. The offense, which had lost fullback Leonard Weaver and center Jamaal Jackson to injuries early in the game, fed off his confidence as Vick used his rifle arm and quick feet to get the Eagles back in the game.

However, Reid has hitched his wagon to Kolb and unless he has 15 more games like the first half of Sunday’s game, he is your franchise quarterback. To be fair, Kolb should be given the opportunity to sink or swim. One game is not enough to say he is a complete bust.

While there is no doubt in my mind that Vick is obviously the better of the two quarterbacks because of experience and his physical ability, whatever success he attains during the times he’s on the field this season is more so an audition tape for teams around the league that will be searching for a legitimate starting quarterback when they find out the players they have now are not fit to be NFL quarterbacks.

Vick, even with his prison time layoff, is still better than a lot of starting quarterbacks in the NFL. Arizona’s Derek Anderson, Carolina’s Matt Moore, Oakland’s Jason Campbell , Denver’s Kyle Orton, San Francisco’s Alex Smith, Buffalo’s Trent Edwards or Chicago’s Jay Cutler, who threw six interceptions in one game last season, are not as good as Vick—who has more Pro Bowl appearances and has more playoff wins than any of those guys.

In a town that wants its quarterback to look and act more like Rocky Balboa, the media pundits here in Philly are already dismissing Vick’s performance as a mere highlight reel or some aberration. Some are even upset by Vick’s comments after the game when he said if he had played all four quarters the Eagles might have won the game. It was misinterpreted as him throwing Kolb under the bus.

Quite frankly, that’s the kind of bravado and self confidence that I want from my quarterback—whether he is a starter or not. Vick should be that sure of his ability to say that he would have mad e the team win if he played the entire game. Wasn’t that the complaint that folks had about Donovan McNabb? That he didn’t have that kind of tough-guy I’m going to kick butt and take names Philly attitude. Folks said he smiled too much.

Another thing that Vick critics pointed out was that the Packers didn’t have a chance to game plan for Vick’s running ability. If Vick starts against the Detroit Lions and has a good game, it will be immediately invalidated because someone will say it was because the Lions are a losing team. If the Eagles lose and he has a bad game, the I-told-you so’s will come out of the woodwork.

Either way, Vick is damned if he does and damned if he doesn’t. When he’s on the field, he has to be absolutely flawless. In the eyes of the NFL, he is still on double-secret probation. Vick can ill afford to have a bad day or throw a few bad passes. If he does, the old criticisms of him being merely a running back playing quarterback will come out and have scouts not wanting to touch him with a 39-and-a-half foot pole.

It is obvious that Vick, with his experience and his skills, is the better quarterback, but the only thing he can do is make the most of the opportunities that he has on the field this season that he can be picked up as a free agent next year.

Vick’s future is definitely not in the City of Brotherly Love .

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