Andy Reid gets paid a lot of money to make tough decisions. Two years ago, he made one of the toughest of his career when he benched Kevin Kolb and made Michael Vick the Eagles' starting quarterback.

You already know most of the pertinent details. The Eagles traded longtime starter Donovan McNabb on Easter Sunday and passed the quarterback baton to Kolb.

But Kolb suffered a concussion in the second quarter of the season opener against the Packers. By the time he was cleared to play 2 weeks later, the starting job no longer was his.

"I knew Kevin Kolb was a good football player," Reid said the other day. "But Michael had an opportunity to get in after Kevin got hurt and took off. He had the highest quarterback rating in the NFL. That's a unique situation.

"It wasn't anything Kevin didn't do. It's just that Michael took off and ran with [the opportunity]."

Kolb had completed only five of 10 passes for 24 yards against the Packers before he got hurt. Vick went in and completed 16 of 24 for 175 yards, a touchdown and no interceptions in the 27-20 loss.

The following week, he turned in an impressive 21-for-34, 291-yard, two-TD, zero-interception performance in a win over the Lions. The fact that his elusiveness enabled him to compensate for a shaky offensive line didn't hurt. Two days later, Reid made it official, naming Vick the Eagles' new starting quarterback.

"They have a great friendship. They still do," Reid said. "I thought about it first, then talked to Kevin. I said this will all come around. Just keep being you. It came around for our football team. He was able to come back in in a couple of games there that were important, and played well.

"And then it's helped him out in Arizona, where he actually came in as a starter and signed a big contract. So he was able to take care of his family. For the rest of his life, he's set. And he's still a good football player."

It certainly has worked out well financially for Kolb. He signed a 1-year extension with the Eagles before he was benched that earned him $12.5 million in 2010. When he was traded to the Cardinals last July after the lockout, he signed a 5-year extension that includes $21 million in guaranteed money.

"Who knew that Michael would end up playing that well?" Reid said.

"Our initial thought when Kevin got hurt and he went in was, 'If he could help our football team while Kevin was out, great.' At the time, nobody really knew [Vick] was in a position to do what he did."

Vick finished that season with career bests in touchdown passes (21), completion percentage (62.6), yards per attempt (8.1), interception percentage (1.6) and passer rating (100.2).

He didn't play nearly as well last year and already has thrown six interceptions in 88 attempts this season. Kolb, who will start against the Eagles on Sunday, has had his own struggles since being traded.

The trade has turned out well for the Eagles. In exchange for Kolb, they got one of the league's better cornerbacks, Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, and a second-round pick. They traded down in the second round, selecting defensive end Vinny Curry and acquiring a fourth-round pick that allowed them to draft cornerback Brandon Boykin.

Rodgers-Cromartie and Boykin have been key components in a defense that has held opposing quarterbacks to a 35.1 passer rating in the first two games.

Steve Sabol's legacy

Steve Sabol always loved telling the story of the phone call he got from his dad shortly after Ed won the film rights to the 1962 NFL Championship Game. Steve was attending Colorado College at the time.

"He said to me, 'Look, I can see by your grades that for the last 5 years, all you've been doing out there is playing football and going to the movies. But that makes you uniquely qualified for this job,'" Steve said. "So I left school and came back and helped dad do the '62 championship game."

It was the start of a monumentally successful father-son partnership that would change pro football forever. They formed NFL Films and the game was never the same.

"My dad was the entrepreneur, the visionary," Steve, who died Tuesday after an 18-month battle with brain cancer, told me a few years ago. "I was like the creative director. I was an art major in college.

"I wanted to portray the game the way I had experienced it as a player. That's with the passion, the sound, the snot flying, the sweat spraying. Dad wanted to portray it the way Hollywood portrayed fiction. So you had those two things coming together.

"I was the little troll under the bridge that was figuring out how it should sound and let's use more slow motion, let's use this kind of music, let's have a camera stay on the quarterback. Let's mike a coach for sound."

Until the day he died, it was all Steve ever wanted to do. He loved the game. Loved using his creative genius to make it bigger than life.

"NFL Films was who he was, the way he looked at himself, the way he presented himself to the world," said Phil Tuckett, a former NFL Films vice president who spent nearly 40 years working for the Sabols. "[It was] the legacy that he left. It was everything to him. Everything.

"He put every fiber of his being into being what NFL Films needed to succeed. When you're standing on the sideline and watching that happen, or in the game watching it happen, you say, 'Boy, that's somebody I can respect fully. He doesn't need to do this. He wants to do this. He isn't being forced into doing it. He's doing it because it's the most important thing in his life.' "

Rest in peace, buddy.

Quick hits

* Bad news for you Eagles fans who don't like Howie Roseman because he has a law degree and wasn't an NFL nose tackle. He just might be the front-runner for NFL Executive of the Year right now. Just sayin'.

* I can't figure out whether USA Today really thinks its new redesigned newspaper looks good or whether they're just trying to chase all of their print subscribers to the Internet. Ugly doesn't begin to describe it.

They should send a complimentary magnifying glass to every over-50 subscriber, so that they are able to read the new Lilliputian print. And you know what you can do with those colored balls on the front page of each of your sections? Yeah, that.

* Because I'm flexible, and often wrong, I'm going to make periodic adjustments to my Super Bowl prediction. Two weeks ago, I told you it would be the Packers and the Ravens going to New Orleans. Well, after 2 weeks, I'm switching to the 49ers and Texans. I think.

* The fact that Brandon Weeden was 26-for-37 Sunday against the Bengals and Trent Richardson rushed for 109 yards either says something very bad about the Bengals' defense or something very good about the Eagles'.

* Unless Demetress Bell gets hurt, I think King Dunlap has started his last game at left tackle this season.

* With Jason Peters and Jason Kelce already out for the season, the Eagles could withstand an injury to LeSean McCoy easier right now than they could one to right tackle Todd Herremans. I think Bryce Brown could step in and do a decent job in place of McCoy. But losing Herremans would be the proverbial straw that broke the camel's back.

Figuring the Eagles

* LeSean McCoy, who averaged 4.6 yards per carry in the second half against the Browns, averaged just 2.6 in the second half against the Ravens. He rushed for only 29 yards on 11 carries in the second half had only 20 yards on nine carries after center Jason Kelce got hurt early in the third quarter. Five of McCoy's 11 second-half carries went for zero or negative yardage.

* In the first two games, 185 of McCoy's 189 rushing yards have come on first or second down. He's carried the ball only twice on third down for minus-1 yard and twice on fourth down for 5 yards.

* Mike Vick did a much better job against the blitz Sunday than he did in Week 1. He had a 110.4 passer rating when the Ravens sent five or more rushers after him, completing five of seven passes for 82 yards and not throwing an interception. Against the Browns, he had a 49.9 passer rating against the blitz, completing only eight of 17 passes for 135 yards and one interception. Vick has been sacked four times in the first two games and all of them have come against the blitz.

* Vick is eighth in the league in third-down passing, with a 99.1 rating, after completing eight of 10 third-down passes for 107 yards and a touchdown against the Ravens. In only two games, he already has equaled his 2011 total of third-down touchdown passes (two). Vick finished 26th in third-down passing last season with a 71.1 rating.

* Jason Peters' absence clearly is having an impact on where the Eagles are running the ball. In their first two games, McCoy has run the ball almost twice as much to the right side (25) as he has to the left (13). He's also run seven times up the middle. Last year, his carries to the left and right were pretty evenly split: 118 times to the left and 100 times to the right.

* The Eagles have only two pass drops in the first two games, one each from Brent Celek and LeSean McCoy.

This and that

* While it might seem as if every NFL game is taking 4 hours to play because of the replacement officials, the fact is games really haven't been much longer than they were in the first 2 weeks last season. The average length of games this season has been 3 hours, 13 minutes, compared with 3:07 in the first two weeks last year. Sixteen of 32 games this year have been played in 3:10 or less. Through 2 weeks last year, there were 20. The biggest difference: Four games have lasted 3 1/2 hours of longer. Last year, there weren't any in the first 2 weeks.

* According to online oddsmaker Bovada, Sunday's win over the Ravens improved the Eagles' odds of winning the Super Bowl from 16/1 to 12/1. Their odds of winning the NFC title are 7/1. The only two NFC teams with better odds are the 49ers (5/2) and the Packers (4/1).

* When Chad Johnson tweeted earlier in the week that he was flying to Philadelphia, rumors started flying around that the Eagles were working him out. Turned out Johnson was flying to Philly to appear on Showtime's "Inside the NFL," which is broadcast at NFL Films in Mount Laurel, N.J.

* Andy Reid remembers the first time Steve Sabol asked him to wear a microphone during a game. It was Reid's first year as the Eagles' head coach. Back then, a coach still had the option of saying no. But Sabol was a persuasive guy. "It was weird," Reid said. "I'm still very awkward with it. You try to forget that you have it on, but it's hard. Now you've got to do it. But back then it was still optional. Steve was always pounding me about that. He'd say, 'Cmon, give me one. Just give me one.' I did it for him because of who he was. I later did a couple of features with him that I normally wouldn't have done, including the one that sprouted that Punt, Pass and Kick thing."

Tweeting with Big Red

* Made bet on Sunday's game with Kevin Kolb. Agreed to go wild pig hunting naked with him if Cards win.

* Just saw Raymour & Flanigan deliver a king-size bed to Juan's office. Man's getting a little carried away with this "work hard" stuff.

* I hate long plane rides. My ankles always swell up.

* Wonder if Joe Banner knows it was me who sent those 100 Papa John's pizzas to his house. #powerplay



* "I think Joe played confident. He stood in there. Everyone knows Joe's not the type of quarterback that's going to scramble and stuff like that. He's definitely waiting for guys to get open. The Eagles played a little more man coverage in the second half, and they were getting away with a little more holding and pushing and stuff like that. But we've got to play ball. We're not going to cry about calls." - Ravens tight end Ed Dickson on Joe Flacco's 8-for-25 second-half performance in Sunday's 24-23 loss to the Eagles

* "I see what the league is trying to do to 'protect' players. But why are they doing it? To prevent more lawsuits? If you were concerned about the physical effects of playing football, you would have given up the sport a long time ago." - Steelers safety Ryan Clark

* "In my eyes, you can't make the game any safer. I played the game knowing that my life would be a little shorter, because I got to play the greatest game on earth." - Former NFL linebacker Bill Romanowski

* "They had nine turnovers, but they're still undefeated. Wait until they learn how to take care of the ball." - NBC analyst Tony Dungy on the Eagles


* 49ers QB Alex Smith has a franchise-record streak of 216 pass attempts without an interception. The previous record was 184 by Hall of Famer Steve Young.

* The 49ers have turned the ball over only 11 times since the start of the 2011 season, during which time they have a plus-29 turnover differential. The Eagles have 47 turnovers during that same period, along with a minus-17 turnover differential.

* If the Cardinals beat the Eagles on Sunday, it will be their first 3-0 start since 1974, when they won their first seven games.

* The Eagles are the first team since the '83 Rams to win their first two games despite turning the ball over at least nine times.

* Since the current 12-team playoff format was instituted in 1990, 22 teams have started 0-2 and still made the playoffs, including the '90 and '03 Eagles. Three teams - the '93 Cowboys, the '01 Patriots and the '07 Giants - started 0-2 and won the Super Bowl.

* Eighty-four of the 111 teams that started 3-0 since 1990, or 75.7 percent, have qualified for the playoffs.

* Bills RB C.J. Spiller is averaging 10.1 yards per carry (29-292). He is the first player to average at least 10 yards per carry in the first two games of the season (minimum of 25 attempts) since Jim Brown did it in 1963 (11.3 yards per carry).

* Eagles QB Mike Vick is tied for third for most career rushes of 30-plus yards among active players. The 49ers' Frank Gore and the Titans' Chris Johnson each have 28. Vick, the Rams' Steven Jackson and the Vikings' Adrian Peterson have 26.

That's saying thumbthing

THUMBS UP: To Eagles coach Andy Reid, who stopped trimming his mustache as a way of paying tribute to two former high school coaches, Andy Cheschelski and Danny Hime. Cheschelski died recently. Both had major 'staches. "Those guys have been watching over me since I was a kid, and I really appreciate all they've done for me in my life," Reid said. "I just thought it would be a good way to honor them."

THUMBS DOWN: To the NFL, which is threatening stiff fines and rulers to the knuckles of owners, general managers, coaches, players and secretaries who dare to disrespect the godawful replacement officials. "We're not going to tolerate it," said Ray Anderson, the league's executive vice president of football operations. "We contacted them to remind them that everyone has a responsibility to respect the game." This from a league that is disrespecting it in a big way by being content to have junior high officials work the games rather than work out a deal with its locked-out zebras.

NFL power rankings

(Note: Last week's rankings in parentheses)

1 49ers 2-0 (1)

2 Packers 1-1 (4)

3 Texans 2-0 (5)

4 Falcons 2-0 (6)

5 Patriots 1-1 (2)

6 Eagles 2-0 (9)

7 Ravens 1-1 (3)

8 Giants 2-1 (7)

9 Broncos 1-1 (10)

10 Chargers 2-0 (16)

11 Cardinals 2-0 (20)

12 Steelers 1-1 (14)

13 Seahawks 1-1 (21)

14 Cowboys 1-1 (8)

15 Lions 1-1 (11)

16 Bengals 1-1 (13)

17 Panthers 1-1 (22)

18 Bills 1-1 (27)

19 Bears 1-1 (12)

20 Bucs 1-1 (17)

21 Saints 0-2 (19)

22 Jets 1-1 (15)

23 Rams 1-1 (28)

24 Redskins 1-1 (18)

25 Colts 1-1 (31)

26 Vikings 1-1 (26)

27 Dolphins 1-1 (32)

28 Browns 0-2 (30)

29 Raiders 0-2 (24)

30 Chiefs 0-2 (25)

31 Titans 0-2 (23)

32 Jaguars 0-2 (29)


Contact Paul Domowitch at Follow him on Twitter @Pdomo. For more Eagles coverage and opinion, read the Daily News' blog at