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Andy Reid Takes a Vick Cough Drop



Billy V

Michael Vick  showed he has regained his ability to cut on a dime and change direction to elude tacklers on Sunday, but it still doesn’t compare to the way Andy Reid suddenly reversed field Tuesday when he named Vick his new starter.

Reid’s decision to completely bail on his promises to Kevin Kolb  in favor of Vick represents not only a change in QB’s, but a change in the way Reid does business. It’s a weird departure from the norms I’ve seen in over a decade of covering the coach and his teams.

Throughout that decade, if you asked Reid about a great performance by any of his players, he would always say, “he did a…(clear throat)..nice job.”

If Donovan McNabb had a day in which he completed, let’s say 21 out of 34 passes, Reid would say “he did a..(clear throat)..nice job.” Heck, when Andy was first hired by the Eagles in 1999, I’m sure he went home and told his wife..”I just got a…(clear throat)..nice job.”

But this week, Reid must’ve taken a Vicks cough drop while also naming Vick his starting quarterback. Because when he made the announcement on Monday, Reid said it without once clearing his throat. And without once saying “nice job.” Instead, he used words that I didn’t know existed in his vocabulary: “Michael Vick is playing out of his mind right now…he’s done a phenomenal job…he’s playing exceptional football.”

Reid kept buttressing his expletives with the statement that we had all seen this phenomenal effort; “Well, the team had seen, obviously, the great play by Michael Vick, just like you saw it, and I saw it.”

But what I actually saw was..well..”a..(clear throat)..nice job.”

Nice, but not phenomenal. Vick did complete 21 of 34 passes, but he also had two easy interceptions that were dropped by the hapless Detroit defenders. He also had a fumble, and it came on a play where he simply held the ball too long. Fortunately, the Eagles recovered it, so Vick’s stat line reads zero turnovers instead of three. If the Eagles had three turnovers, instead of winning by three points they would probably have lost, and we probably wouldn’t be talking about a quarterback change.The Eagles and drama? No way........

Yes, Vick did throw for 284 yards, but during his Eagles career, McNabb had 30 games in which he threw for over 300 yards. Reid never described his play as “Phenomenal” or “Out of his mind” like he did after Vick’s performance against Detroit. (Sorry to keep bringing up McNabb, but since they traded McNabb in order to give Kolb a chance, then immediately switched from Kolb to Vick, it makes sense to wonder whether they should’ve just kept Donovan.)

At any rate, Vick’s performance came against a Detroit team that was tied for second-last in the league (31st of 32 teams) in both overall defense and pass defense after Week One of the season. They finished dead last (32nd out of 32) in overall defense and pass defense last season.

Over the 2008 and 2009 seasons, the Lions gave up an average of 32 ½ points per game, so the 35 that Vick and the Eagles scored is not that excessive. Or should I say, it’s not “phenomenal.”

Not only does Reid’s verbal terminology represent a complete change for him, but so does the entire scenario of completely going back on his word. Say what you will about Reid, he is not wishy-washy. He does not cow-tow to the fans. He honestly doesn’t seem to know what’s being discussed on the radio talk shows, nor does he care. In fact, the day before he made the quarterback change, Reid said, in reference to fans who wanted him to switch to Vick: “I can’t please everybody. I’m here to make the decision that’s right for the team.” That decision, he indicated, was to stay with Kolb.

Which leads us to another uncharacteristic change in the behavior of Reid, who is usually"Invasion the the Body Snatchers" photo: http://www.horrorphile.net/images/invasion-of-the-body-snatchers-movie-poster1.jpg loyal, but completely betrayed Kolb. And this can’t be described as anything but a betrayal, given Reid’s insistence, right up to the day before he switched, that Kolb was still the starting quarterback. The fact that Kolb waited three years and then got to play for one half of one game before getting the knife makes the betrayal all the more ridiculous.

But Dennis Bakay has already hammered that point elsewhere on this website, so I’ll leave it at that, except to add that Reid may have messed with Kolb’s mind enough to make him useless to the Eagles if (and when) Vick comes back to earth. And I think he will. I mentioned the potential INT’s the Lions could’ve had. I’ll also mention that Vick threw three interceptions in the preseason this year, in 28 passing attempts. That’s a 10.7% INT ratio, which is phenomenally bad.

We are left to wonder what really happened between the time Reid stated his support for Kolb on Monday then announced the change on Tuesday? He had already seen the game films of Vick’s performance when he reaffirmed that Kolb was the QB. They didn’t play another game, or even hold another practice, before Reid suddenly did his flip-flop. So what really caused the sudden change? Here are three theories:

1) The reason Reid changed his mind, and his style (I mean, no throat clearing?) is that the real Andy has been replaced by a clone, like in  “The Invasion of the Body Snatchers.” (Just kidding—I think.)

2) Reid was told by team owner Jeffrey Lurie  to make the change. But one thing about Reid, I have never known him to outright lie. (Unless he’s changed that, too.) He will refuse to discuss things that he doesn’t want to reveal (“I’m not going to go there…”), but will not flat-out lie. So when Reid says, “ This is my decision,” I believe him. (I think.)

3) Reid was told by his players that they want Vick. If that happened, Reid would still have to make the decision to go along with their request, so he could still say, in all honesty, that his was his decision. Also, the line I quoted previously, “Well, the team had seen, obviously, the great play by Michael Vick, just like you saw it, and I saw it,” would seem to support this theory. So that’s probably what happened. (I think.)

I also think that all the talk about quarterbacks is taking away from many problems that are at least equally important—the O-line is very inconsistent, and the D-line can’t stop the run. Actually, I think the problem is more the linebackers, because the Eagles have gone back to having tiny OLB’s, both weighing in at 230 pounds. Ernie Sims and Akeem Jordan remind me of the days of Dhani Jones and Keith Adams or Matt McCoy. But who wants to talk about them with all the controversy surrounding Kolb and Vick? And Reid.

Or whoever that is on the Eagles sidelines flip-flopping on his decisions, using fancy superlatives—and not even clearing his throat.

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Billy Vargus is an Emmy Award Winner for Best Sports Anchor for 2008 and 2009. (Mid-Atlantic region, covering all of Pennsylvania, South Jersey and Delaware.) Bill has been a TV sports anchor in the Philadelphia area for 18 years with the last 12 coming at Fox 29. He’s also had stops at Channel 10, Channel 12, plus at other television markets around the country.He has also served as the pre-game host for all Seventy-Sixers games in the past and also has acted in films, TV shows and commercials.

Contact Bill at billv@philly2philly.com

"Invasion the the Body Snatchers" photo: http://www.horrorphile.net/images/invasion-of-the-body-snatchers-movie-poster1.jpg