In his handling of the Eagles' quarterback situation over an unprecedented 12 months, coach Andy Reid has had to tell more white lies and half-truths than a politician in an election year.

But how did we get here - from Donovan McNabb to Kevin Kolb to Michael Vick, and with the Eagles remarkably poised to reach the playoffs?

The words of Reid provide a look back at the last year:

Jan. 11 - "I was asked if Donovan would be my quarterback next year, and I said yes. That's what I'm saying now."

The day after the Eagles' demoralizing playoff loss to the Cowboys, Reid was asked about McNabb. He would be asked the same question several times over the next few months, and each time he gave the same response. Never once, however, did he say McNabb will be his quarterback. Each response was given in the present tense.

March 24 - "I wouldn't say they're on the market. I'd say I'm listening. I'm not saying I'm doing anything. I'm keeping my ears open."

At the NFL owners meetings, Reid dropped the bombshell that the Eagles were entertaining offers for all three of their quarterbacks. As calculated as that sounded, it was fairly easy to ascertain what the Eagles were saying: "McNabb is available. Give us your best offer." A week later, when sources told The Inquirer that Vick was definitely coming back, McNabb's days were numbered.

April 4 - "I don't have a crystal ball here. . . . Everything else is a subjective decision on my part saying that I've got the confidence in [Kolb] to do this."

When the Eagles finally dealt McNabb to the Redskins on Easter Sunday, the only things shocking about the deal were the timing and the trade partner. Reid had decided he had gone as far as he could with McNabb and was confident that Kolb could handle the promotion.

May 2 - "I think he looks great. You saw him today. He's working with the second group. Any time he gets into trouble, he's out of there. You see his quickness and speed back. He's throwing the ball confidently."

Lost in the quarterback shuffle was Vick. Asked about his new backup, Reid was glowing in his assessment. The dramatic roster turnover in which the team got much younger, however, suggested that Vick just wasn't a fit for this team. Or so it seemed.

July 26 - "Will there be a little blip here and there? Yeah, he's a young guy. Just keep pushing forward and be you and that's good enough."

On the first day of training camp, Reid preached patience when it came to Kolb. Vick, meanwhile, arrived at Lehigh with the baggage of his birthday party shooting. Even then, Vick remained confident about his abilities. "I know I'm still one of the top elite players," he said. How he performed in the preseason, however, didn't change the perception that Kolb deserved to remain the starter.

Sept. 13 - "I know I'm using poor English. Kevin Kolb is the No. 1 quarterback."

Kolb's concussion paved the way for Vick's near rally against the Packers and Reid's having to defend his decision to stick with his original plan. That didn't stop reporters from peppering Reid on whether Vick could possibly win the job as Kolb recovered.

Sept. 19 - "Not hard at all."

Before the Detroit game the Eagles announced that Kolb had not been cleared to return. The announcement was obviously made to smother any controversy. But Vick was brilliant against the Lions and Reid was further painted into a corner. Nevertheless, after the game he gave the above response when a questioner asked if it would be difficult to go back to Kolb after Vick's outing.

Sept. 20 - "It's a beautiful situation. I look at it a lot different than other people look at it. I've got two quarterbacks that can play."

Reid maintained that Kolb was his starter the next day, but cracks started to show that he was contemplating the move that would stun the NFL.

Sept. 22 - "It's nothing about Kevin Kolb's play, that's not what it is. It's about Michael Vick's play. He exceeded even my expectation on how he's played the last two games."

The next day Reid announced the quarterback switch and the day after he faced a barrage of questions about what appeared to some to be a rash decision.

Oct. 17 - "You take Michael Kolb and we go play, baby."

Vick, though, was injured two games later. Kolb, in Vick's absence, won his first two starts, guiding the Eagles flawlessly past the Atlanta Falcons in the second game. After the Atlanta win, Reid once again had to answer questions about who his starting quarterback was, and he gave a teasing answer.

Oct. 24 - "Mike."

Kolb's below-average performance against Tennessee the next week made Reid's decision to go back to Vick and his one-word response as to who was his starter fairly simple ones. Vick rewarded his coach's faith with MVP-caliber play as the Eagles won six of their next seven.

Contact staff writer Jeff McLane at 215-854-4745 or jmclane@phillynews.com.
Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/Jeff_McLane.