The decision seemed so wrong, and so simple to rip. After trading Donovan McNabb and naming Kevin Kolb the starting quarterback, and after paying Kolb $12 million in guarantees in May, and after Kolb played 15 non-concussed snaps, and after publicly saying Kolb was his starting quarterback three times in the last few days, Andy Reid replaced him with Michael Vick on Tuesday.
How can Kolb ever trust Reid again?
How can the public ever trust Reid again?
How can Reid go back to the chastened, belittled Kolb if Vick either gets hurt or reverts back to his old self?
How can you give a guy 15 plays, watch him get slammed to the turf and suffer a concussion, then rob him of his job?
How can Reid not look like Captain Queeg here?
"I know I'm not going to look good in this thing,'' Reid told me in a late-night phone call Tuesday.
Bingo. Reid's one of the few guys in the business -- one of the very few -- who has the guts to make a call like this. He traded his quarterback of 11 years, McNabb, just to give Kolb the chance he was certain he deserved. And he goes to Vick this quick?
I'll let you make the call on the major issues. I'll give you Reid's explanation to me on the major issues:
• On changing his mind after insisting Kolb was his guy: "I needed to buy myself some time, to think about this and make the right decision.'' He said he didn't want to open up the can of worms by saying he was thinking about it before making an announcement.
• On whether he was pressured into making the decision by the front office, ownership or players: "No player has said a word to me. No coaches, no one in the front office or ownership. I hunkered down here [in his office] and made the decision myself.'' Knowing Reid, I buy it.
• On why: "You've got a guy who was a superstar in this league, playing like a superstar again -- maybe one of the best quarterbacks in the league right now. He's in the playbook. He's making the kind of decisions out there where I know he's doing his homework and studying and learning this offense. He's playing great. This is a unique deal. A subjective deal. Decisions like this are tough, but they're what I'm paid to do. I know it won't be popular.''
• On Kolb's reaction to the benching: "Like you'd expect. He wants to be a starting quarterback.''
• On the effect on Kolb's psyche and his future: "A young quarterback needs time to mature as he grows in the game. I don't think Kolb has lost one thing. He's a franchise quarterback. He will win games, and championships, for the Eagles. But I think it's a different deal when you go out there and can't make a mistake or you're going to get crucified, which is the way this thing might have gone if he went back in there now.''
That last point, to me, is why Reid did this. That's the key. Not from what he said, but from what I divine in knowing Reid. If Kolb goes in there and is pretty good, people are still going to be thinking, He's no Vick. He's no McNabb. In other words, he might have to be an A or A-minus to win over his team and his stadium, and that's no way to enter the formative time of your career.
That, plus one other thing. In six Atlanta seasons, Vick completed 53.8 percent of his passes. In two games this year, he's completing 63.8 percent. That's the tempting part of what Vick's doing right now -- he might be becoming a complete quarterback before our very eyes. He might not. But you have to admit that, watching Vick play the last six quarters, you're wondering if he finally has gotten it, if he finally is correctly walking the fine line between a great athlete playing quarterback and a quarterback who is a great athlete. Only time will tell.
Reid is taking a major risk here, obviously. It's his second one of the year, the McNabb deal being the first. He's an easy target, for sure. But his points are, at least, more worthy of argument than they were at 5 o'clock Tuesday afternoon.