Remember Kevin Kolb?
Here’s a better question….
Remember when he was drafted?
With the 26th overall pick in the 2007 NFL Draft, the Philadelphia Eagles…. TRADE their pick to the Dallas Cowboys for their hated rival’s second-round (36th), third-round (87th), and fifth-round (159th) selections.
Dallas selected linebacker Anthony Spencer out of Purdue. He made the Pro Bowl in 2012.
The Eagles proceeded to take Houston quarterback Kevin Kolb, Nebraska linebacker Stewart Bradley, and Clemson safety C.J. Gaddis with the Cowboys picks, respectively. None of these players are currently with the team and not one of them donned a jersey in Honolulu or Miami.
At this time, Philadelphia was on the downside of four straight NFC Championship appearances that culminated in a Super Bowl defeat to Tom Brady and the New England Patriots in the 2005-06 season. Drafting Kolb was surprising to many who covered the team and inexplicably started a quarterback controversy with then starter, Donovan McNabb.
There hadn’t been an issue at the quarterback position in the City of Brotherly Love since Ty Detmer, Bobby Hoying, and Rodney Peete walked the sidelines at Veterans Stadium in the late 90’s. Far from controversial, those experiments didn’t work out at all; neither player secured the starting job and the team was in dire need of a signal caller who could get the Eagles back to the Promised Land.
Philadelphia fans were then spoiled by a two-sport athlete from Syracuse who took them out of the doldrums of that Ray Rhodes era.
When Andy Reid selected Donovan McNabb with the 2nd overall pick in the 1999 draft, Eagles fans voiced their displeasure with boos raining down from iconic Radio City Music Hall like snowballs hurled at a drunken, dirty Santa Clause. McNabb never let the fans hear the end of it the way he felt on that joyous day when a few ignorant Philadelphia fans disagreed with the selection. He passed for over 37,000 yards in his career, made 6 Pro Bowls, and helped win the second NFC Championship in franchise history. Following another loss in the 2009 NFC Championship game against the Arizona Cardinals, McNabb was traded to the Washington Redskins for a second-round pick in 2010 and a conditional third or fourth round pick in 2011.
Kolb was then handed the reins but in the midst of his tenure with Philadelphia, Andy Reid made a bold move in signing former Atlanta Falcons quarterback Michael Vick after his prison sentence for dog fighting. Vick entered in as McNabb was headed out (How could we forget that Wildcat extravaganza?) and the depth chart for Andy Reid suddenly became more and more crowded, thus a need to move an aging McNabb.
Vick was named the starter when Kolb went down with a concussion early in the 2010 season and never relinquished the job, winning the 2010 NFL Comeback Player of the Year award and leading the Eagles back to the playoffs as the NFC Eastern division champs.
To be fair, Kolb wasn’t given the fairest of chances and was ultimately traded to Arizona before the 2011 season.
Vick signed a 6 year deal worth up to $100 million with $40 million guaranteed before the 2012 season and thanks to backup Vince Young, another QB Andy Reid thought he could breakdown and fix, the Eagles were coined “The Dream Team” and had a target on their back for the entire year in which they finished 8-8.
Young left, Vick stayed, and Nick Foles was drafted out of Arizona.
Here we go again….
This controversy however was not as clear cut as McNabb and Kolb. Foles was drafted in the third-round in the 2012 Draft and was looked at by many as being a work in progress. Reid liked the challenges of developing quarterbacks, but didn’t know the lanky Pac-12 QB would be needed so early in his career.
Vick began the year as the starter but due to inconsistent play on the field, turnovers, a lack of pocket presence, and concussion like symptoms, Foles entered his first NFL game on November 11 against Dallas. Vick was knocked out of the game and Andy Reid later said that Foles would start for Philadelphia for the remainder of the season.
Foles was thrust into the starting role and flourished in Reid’s pass happy attack. In a game at Tampa Bay in early December, Foles had his coming out party, setting Eagles rookie-records for passing yards (381) and completions (32) in a comeback win over the Buccaneers. That marked the 3rd time in NFL history that a rookie quarterback had 350 passing yards, 2 passing-touchdowns, and no interceptions in a game (Andrew Luck & Billy Joe Tolliver). It was also the 5th time since the NFL merger that a rookie quarterback threw a game winning touchdown pass as time expired, joining Luck, Russell Wilson, Matthew Stafford, and Tim Couch.
To put Foles’ small sample size in perspective, he finished the season with 1,699 yards in 7 games played (6 starts). Fellow rookie Andrew Luck started all 16 games and broke Cam Newton’s rookie passing record (4,051) with 4,374 yards. In the 6.5 games Foles played in before breaking his hand and ending his season in second to last game of the year, he averaged 261 yards per contest.
What does that average equate to over a 16 game season?
So along with Luck breaking the rookie passing record, Foles too would have and would be 2nd on that list ahead of players such as Newton and Peyton Manning. That prospective passing average for Foles would not only put him in elite company but it would also be better than rookies Robert Griffin III’s 3,200 passing yards and Russell Wilson’s 3,118. Grant it, RGIII and Wilson can break outside the pocket for nice chunks of yardage but Foles showed mobility outside of the pocket last season.
The question as to who will be the Eagles starter is still up in the air. What Mike Vick will we see? Is it the one who torched the Washington Redskins on Monday Night Football a few years back? Or the one who can’t hold onto the football just as much as he can stay on the field?
On ESPN’s First Take, Desean Jackson said he would like to see Vick as the starter, who restructured his lengthy and expensive contract this offseason to a one-year, $10 million deal. You would think that Vick’s contract will effect some decisions because why would they want to be paying a guy like that to sit the bench. Grant it, the restructuring of the contract means that it will be incentive laden with a $3.5 million signing bonus and a $3.5 million base salary, so that was needed for him to remain an Eagle.
But then the question arises of what quarterback fits head coach Chip Kelly’s system best? Kelly has been very quiet throughout the summer in naming a starter and has said that training camp will decide it. He also pointed out that Foles fits just as well as Vick and people/media are making too big of a deal about the offense and the present situation.
With less than a week before camp begins, the wait is almost over. Let the competition begin.
(Information used credited to ESPN Stats & Information and Elias Sports Bureau)