What a difference three weeks makes. The last time the Eagles played in front of a home crowd, in their season-opener on September 12, Kevin Kolb was the unquestioned starting quarterback. Kolb left that game in the second quarter with a concussion and ceded the job to Michael Vick, who proceeded to grab hold of the No. 1 job with 10 quarters of outstanding play. This time, the starting quarterback couldn't even get out of the first quarter.
When Kolb entered the game on the last play of the first quarter, after Vick was knocked out on a crushing double-sided tackle by DeAngelo Hall and Kareem Moore, it was easy to forget that less than a month ago he was the face of a new era in Eagles football. The ensuing drama was only made more compelling because of the return of the man whom Kolb used to back up, Donovan McNabb. It was the culmination of a whirlwind few weeks for Kolb, who admitted struggling at times with his change in role.
"There have been some difficult times," Kolb said. "I think if you know you're strong and you understand the situation, then you've got to just keep pressing on. That's what I've tried to do. I've been a back-up long enough to know that you're really just one play away and that's the way you have to approach it."
So when Vick slumped to the ground following his 23-yard run that would get called back for holding, Kolb knew it was time to go.
"We have all seen Mike take some hits and you've got to be ready at all times," Kolb said. "Mike is a very tough guy, not a guy who plays around if he's not injured and I could tell that the contact on that hit was going to be pretty bruising and it was. So I just said 'Here we go. Gotta go.' The good thing for me is that I'm ready to get on the field and I want to be out there so I try to prepare like a starter every single week and I'm going to try to do that this week as well."
Ah, this week. With the Eagles awaiting word on Vick's status - he has an MRI on his chest Monday - Kolb again must prepare to start. The Eagles travel to the West Coast this week for a Sunday night game against the 0-4 San Francisco 49ers. A full week of practice and game-planning will certainly aid Kolb in that process, especially with a template for how to defend Kolb provided by the Washington Redskins.
Redskins defensive coordinator Jim Haslett placed an emphasis on containing the Eagles' explosive wide receiver duo of DeSean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin. By backing his defense off, Haslett held Jackson and Maclin to a combined four catches for 34 yards and forced Kolb to continually hit his check-down receivers.
"I didn't want to try to be overly aggressive," said Kolb, who threw for 201 yards on 22-35 passing. "I feel like we did that as an offense. Again, I just feel like when a team is playing that style of defense, you can't make mistakes and the mistakes early costs us. I didn't feel like it was anything they did, I think we killed ourselves and the game would have been a lot different if we had done something earlier."
Head coach Andy Reid intimated that Vick, if healthy, is still the starting quarterback. But with Vick's immediate status in question, Reid can rely on what he's called "a beautiful situation," two quarterbacks of starting caliber. Following the loss to the Redskins, Reid said that Kolb "did some good things," and "put us in a position where we had a chance to win the game." With the Eagles standing at 2-2 at the quarter mark of the season, next week's game is pivotal.
"You want to be out there as much as possible and I'm a competitor and I want to play," Kolb said. "I want to win. It's vital for our season and for our team right now to go out and win next week and I hope I get the opportunity. But we'll see what happens with Mike's injury and what the situation is and then we'll go from there."
-- Posted by Bo Wulf, 6:30 a.m., October 4