A familiar drumbeat began in the moments immediately after Michael Vick's fourth interception in Cleveland -- the second of which had been fired carelessly into double coverage -- this time resulting in a pick six that would have handed victory to a serious opponent. Fans and members of the media alike, the latter made up of people who are supposed to know better, Twondered aloud whether preseason darling Nick Foles would come on to relieve Vick the rest of the way.
Vick of course finished and the Eagles (eventually/miraculously) won the game, but what gave anybody the idea Andy Reid would even consider replacing his quarterback? There aren't many instances where the head coach of 14 seasons demonstrated an itchy trigger finger when it came to the guy running his offense, especially mid-game, so it shouldn't have come as a surprise big or small he was giving the franchise QB every opportunity to turn the ship around.
However, there is one outstanding example when Reid finally had seen enough of his signal caller to make the switch midway through a contest, and opted for the inexperienced option instead. It just so happens that exact scenario played out four years ago the last time the Eagles went head-to-head with the Ravens.
You'll no doubt recall the events. Donovan McNabb was the quarterback, but as he was prone to doing, had fallen into a funk heading into the Week 12 meeting in Baltimore. McNabb completed less than 50-percent of his passes and threw for under 200 yards in a home loss to the Giants two weeks earlier, followed by the famous 13-13 tie in Cincinnati where afterwards he explained he was unaware such an outcome was even possible. It's track No. 58 on Donovan's Greatest Hits, available on iTunes.
With McNabb well on his way to another clunker against the Ravens, completing 8 of 18 passes for 59 yards and two picks in the first half, Reid said take a seat. The score was only 10-7 at the time (thanks to a Quintin Demps kick return TD), the game technically well within reach, but second-year quarterback Kevin Kolb was about to get the most extensive, the first meaningful playing time of his short career against what is notoriously one of the toughest defenses in the NFL.
The experiment did not end well. Statistically speaking, Kolb wasn't much worse that day, going 10 for 23 for 73 yards and two picks. Actually, he came closer than Donovan to engineering a scoring drive, though all hope was ultimately erased at the goal line after Ed Reed took an interception back 108 yards. Either way, the game predictably unraveled when the backup QB entered, with the Ravens walking away victorious by a final of 36-7.
A sign of things to come perhaps? Vick is not unlike McNabb in that he can be incredibly inconsistent on a game-to-game basis. He looked out of sync in extremely limited action during the preseason, which seemingly carried over into his awful performance against the Browns. Winning the game obviously was what's important, but there is little in the quarterback's performance to inspire confidence this Sunday.
All of which makes us fear we could be in for a repeat of sorts from 2008. Would Reid bench Vick against one of the stingiest defenses in the league over another poor outing, throwing his rookie quarterback to the wolves? My guess is probably not likely given the situations aren't entirely comparable. Kolb was in his second season, thus more prepared in theory. Plus at that point in the season, a loss dropped the Eagles to 5-5-1, so there was far more at stake.
There is also the possibility Vick could go down with an injury, as many have predicted will happen at the hands of the nasty Baltimore D. That would force Foles -- or Trent Edwards if Reid were benevolent -- into the lineup, perhaps inducing similar results. While many wouldn't seem to mind if the Eagles made the move at quarterback before it reaches this point, a glimpse into the past suggests a change under center this weekend would not have much of a positive impact versus the Ravens.
In fact, you might say based on the evidence, it has the potential to wind up a total disaster.
Although, a funny thing about how 2008 worked out: McNabb was back under center the following week, the Eagles went on a roll all the way to the NFC Championship game. Somewhere in between is track No. 59, titled "Financial Apology."
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