Last spring, the Eagles decided to part ways with franchise quarterback Donovan McNabb. The reasons were simple: the Eagles were young and McNabb was turning 34 years old. It was time to give three-year backup Kevin Kolb his chance to shine and transform the Eagles franchise.
Under the surface, however, McNabb was driven out of Philadelphia by the fans and the front office. Even though he compiled a 92-49-1 record as an Eagle, is the franchise leader in wins, pass completions, passing yards and passing touchdowns, led the team to five NFC Championships and a Superbowl, his inability to get the franchise a Super Bowl ring ended up being his biggest demise in the City of Brotherly Love. It all started when he reportedly threw up in the huddle against the Patriots in Superbowl XXXIX and spiraled downward whenever No. 5 came up short in the following years.
In 2010, the Eagles season took an unexpected turn when Kevin Kolb suffered a concussion from a Clay Matthews hit. Michael Vick, one of the most exciting players in NFL history, took over as the Eagles captain. His ability to change games with his arm and legs took the Eagles season from a rebuilding process to contenders in the playoffs. Even though he is not the most conventional quarterback, there was an excitement that Vick embodied that brought confidence to the city. Was this the year the Eagles finally got over the hump?
I think we all know how that one ended.
What is it about Michael Vick that makes him that must more trustworthy than Donovan McNabb once was in Philadelphia? The Eagles went 10-6 under Vick in 2010, whereas McNabb guided the ‘Birds to a better record in six of his 11 seasons in Philadelphia. Granted Vick was only the starter for 12 weeks, but two of those 10 wins came under Kevin Kolb’s lead.
If we are truly going to compare what Michael Vick did in 2010 versus what McNabb did in his career as the starter, then we simply cannot look at statistics. Because in the end Philadelphia, isn’t it all about winning? Isn’t getting the hardware what truly defines who is better?
Both Vick and McNabb have anchored high-powered offenses. Michael Vick did it with DeSean Jackson, Jeremy Maclin, and LeSean McCoy. McNabb still was able to do it with Terrell Owens, Todd Pinkston and Brian Westbrook. Oh yeah, don’t forget about Freddie Mitchell. Both have made multiple Pro-Bowls. However there still is no Lombardi Trophy in Philadelphia.
Yes there is a bright future for Michael Vick and certainly a great opportunity to win it all with him at the helm, but does what he did in 2010 garner more appreciation than what McNabb did in his career? The main question I propose to Eagles fans is this: what did Michael Vick accomplish this season that deserves more recognition than what Donovan McNabb did in his career?
The answer to this may be that McNabb was unable to do it year after year. He was the starting quarterback for over a decade, yet never seemed to come through when it truly mattered. Don’t take into account that he was throwing to Todd Pinkston for five years, James Thrash for three years, Reggie Brown for five years and Terrell Owens, his best receiver, for only two years. McNabb was always the easy one to hold responsible.
Michael Vick was far from impressive in the Eagles playoff game. He completed just 55 percent of his passes and posted his second straight sub-80 passer rating. On the final drive of the season, Vick gave hope to Philadelphia when he drove down the field with under a minute to play. Then, with under 30 seconds to play, Michael Vick came up short under pressure. Isn’t that the reason Philadelphia fans were ready to end the Donovan McNabb era Philadelphia?
There is a certain likeability that many Eagles fans find in Michael Vick. Based on his past actions, the irony is quite comical. Maybe it’s the fact that he has rebounded so well after those life changing events. Maybe it’s that he is more intense in the huddle than McNabb. Whatever it is, the likeability has consumed this city.
If anything, this comparison goes to show that a quarterback cannot be the only one responsible in a loss. Both quarterbacks were capable to lead their teams to the Superbowl, but the nature of the sport tends to point all fingers at them. The main difference in this situation? All fingers are not pointing at Vick. They are pointing to Andy Reid or the defense. Why? Because Donovan McNabb is no longer in town to blame.