Donovan McNabb was the starting quarterback for the Philadelphia Eagles up until the point he was no longer with the team. That right there is why coach Andy Reid and the front office had to ship the 33-year-old veteran out the door. They couldn’t turn to Kevin Kolb until McNabb was gone.
Reid discussed the huge trade late Sunday night that sent the 11-year veteran south on Interstate 95 to the NFC East rival Washington Redskins. Eventually, it all came back to the desire to get Kolb on the field.
Asked about his starting quarterback situation after the season, Reid said that McNabb was the man for the Eagles moving forward. He had to be. Reid couldn’t switch to Kolb with McNabb still in the locker room. That’s why as the draft approached there was a sense of urgency for the Eagles to make something happen.
“He was the starting quarterback until he went elsewhere,” Reid said. “There’s nothing that changed. It’s very hard to predict the future in this league. I couldn’t have told you at that time that this was going to happen. I was honest with you that I listened and, again, I did what I thought and what Joe (Banner) and Howie (Roseman) and Jeffrey (Lurie) and what we all thought was best for this organization.
“Unfortunately, things like this happen in the National Football League and I’ve said this before, when we talk about Brian Dawkins and Brian Westbrook, if you’re lucky enough to stay around as long as when I have, then you’re going to go through situations like this where you have to go in a different direction. Obviously we have a lot of confidence in Kevin Kolb to make this decision. He will be the starting quarterback for the Philadelphia Eagles.”
Kolb becomes the story in Philadephia now. The pressure on him, like it or not, is going to be immense. He’s replacing a quarterback that holds just about every passing record worth holding in the organization. Unless McNabb goes on to win a Super Bowl title with the Redskins or elsewhere, he’ll always be identified first and foremost as an Eagle. Period.
But now Reid says he turns with confidence to Kolb.
“No. 1, he’s been taught by good coaches and also had the opportunity to play under Donovan which, I think, is a big thing,” Reid said. “(He) learned how to do it the right way. He’s followed that direction and put a lot of effort into preparing himself for this opportunity. So, we see the leadership and the athletic ability and he does a nice job reading defenses and so on. He has a pretty good feel for the position.”
The Eagles had gone young at wide receiver with DeSean Jackson, Jason Avant and Jeremy Maclin, and are headed that direction in the backfield with LeSean McCoy. It was just a matter of time until that transition was made at quarterback. With McNabb, Kolb and Michael Vick, now clearly entrenched at the backup, all headed into the final year of their contracts, that time was now.
“I don’t know if we’re rebuilding. I don’t see it that way,” Reid said. “I see it as when it’s time to play we’ll have a good football team. We try to do everything that’s best for the team and we just felt that these moves will help us down the road here.”
Kolb needs to succeed quickly though or the pressure and scrutiny could make it impossible for him to succeed. Will he be better than McNabb in Year 1?
“I don’t have a crystal ball here. I’m not going to say that,” Reid said. “I think that Kevin now needs to go prove that and be Kevin Kolb and not Donovan McNabb. He needs to make his own mark and be his own man there and go do his thing. He has not done that. That’s something that will be a great challenge for him coming up this year. Everything else is a subjective decision on my part saying that I’ve got the confidence in him to do this.”
Like it or not, Reid could be tied to Kolb now himself.
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