Riding the Hot Hand: Vick or Kolb?

The question of who to start as quarterback never gets answered in Philadelphia. Six months ago it was "McNabb or Kolb;" now we've moved on to "Kolb or Vick."

Six weeks into the season, we've seen great play from both Kevin Kolb and Michael Vick. And while Kolb is still likely the long term franchise QB, it's no longer clear who gives the Eagles the best chance to win on any given Sunday. The question may be moot this weekend when Vick likely will not have recovered fully from his rib injury, but after the Eagles' by in week eight, head coach Andy Reid will have to make a choice.

Perhaps we can get a leg up on this decision by examining how well the two quarterbacks have done so far:

Adjusted Net Yards Per Attempt Michael Vick Kevin Kolb 2010

Adjusted Net Yards Per Attempt is essentially the average yards gained on each play, including runs and sacks. The adjustment comes in when you count every touchdown as 20 more yards and every interception as negative 40. That helps a little bit to factor in explosiveness/red zone offense, as well as mistakes. Average for the NFL this season is about 6.0 ANY/A.

As you can see in the graph, Vick has been consistently above average, and rates at or near the top of the league. Kolb started the season (in very limited playing time) abysmally, but has recovered and improved each week. His 23 for 29, 326 yard, 3 touchdown performance was the best game of the season from either player.

So, if you're trying to ride the hot hand to victory, who do you choose? Well, based on last week's result, you have to stick with Kolb. The Drew Brees-caliber game he played against the Falcons wasn't an anomaly. Kolb played just as well last year against the Chiefs in his second start.

We never got to see if Kolb could sustain that pace, but we'll get a chance now. And there's no reason to think he couldn't become more and more confident the longer he starts, ironing out some of the inconsistencies we've seen.

On the other hand, Vick was taking the league by storm before he went down to injury. His running, combined with a newfound ability to stand in the pocket and deliver strikes down the field, makes him the a more dangerous weapon than Kolb and harder to game plan against. If Reid is sure Vick's really turned the corner, he might have to bring Vick back in. Plus, depending on the length of time DeSean Jackson may be out with a concussion, Vick may be the better option to carry the team without it's best offensive player.

Ultimately though, it's going to depend on Kolb. If he sustains a few games like he had last weekend — i.e. Pro Bowl caliber — there's simply no way you can take him out. When Vick returns he'll be back involved somehow, even if it's only to mix up the looks for defenders. But the team can't go back to him full time unless they're sure he's the better option, something that's not clear at all right now.

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