There’s no getting around it: Kolb was absolutely dreadful on Sunday. 5 for 10 passing, 24 yards, 2 sacks, and a 56.3 rating. Not only were the stats bad, he looked jittery and confused in the pocket, something that we were told by Eagles brass would not happen with the quick decision making Kolb.
So is it time to call it a season, or even worse, start Michael Vick at QB? Of course not. While a QB controversy is good for websites, sports radio, and even something called newspapers, it’s not good for the Eagles. Furthermore, there is no quarterback controversy. Kevin Kolb is your starting QB.
Andy Reid listens to no one but himself
Before we look at Kolb’s performance, let’s just get the QB controversy question out of the way. The reason why Kolb, if/when healthy is your starting QB is because Andy Reid anointed him the starting QB. Anyone who has watched (and stayed awake through) an Andy Reid press conference knows that Andy is the smartest person in the room, and everyone else is on a need to know basis.
He is not going to wither under media and fan pressure to start Michael Vick. First, because he knows Michael Vick is not the long term answer at QB. (After all, he understands that Michael Vick can easily be gameplanned for as a QB. See 2004 NFC Championship Game.) More importantly, because admitting he made a mistake in anointing Kevin Kolb the future one game into the season would mean that Andy made a mistake in evaluating Kolb’s talent. For four years. Does anyone actually expect Andy to even think himself wrong, much less admit his mistake after one game?
His concussion might force Kolb to sit versus the Lions but as soon as he’s healthy, Kevin Kolb will be back under center.
A little quick to judgement
While it’s certainly hard to defend Kolb’s performance, the fact is he was dreadful for all of 5 drives and he was concussed for one of them. Yet Eagles fans are clamoring for the end of the Kolb era to see what Vick can do. A little premature, isn’t it? Let’s examine his performance drive by drive. If you have tape of the game, follow along with me.
1st drive: Already in the hole because of an illegal formation, Kolb throws a little 5 yard pass to Maclin. Nice safe call by Andy. 2nd and 10, Kolb throws a pass down the middle. And it goes right through Brent Celek’s hands. 3rd and 10, Clay Matthews is untouched on a delayed blitz. After the 1st drive, would you say Kolb is dreadful? Not yet.
2nd drive: LeSean McCoy gains a yard; and then a nice little end around by Maclin nets 11 yards. After two running plays, Andy decides to make a statement about how much faith he has in his starting quarterback by bringing in Michael Vick, who proceeds to pick up 6 yards on the run. McCoy picks up 6 more for the first down. Then Vick comes back in and loses a yard on a run.
(We pause here to note that Andy has taken Kolb out of the game to put in Vick. Unlike other wildcat offenses which keeps the quarterback in the game and lined up out wide, Kolb is now standing on the sidelines while Vick loses a yard. Reid is effectively using a two quarterback system. I feel like I’m back watching Jaworski’s last year.)
Kolb is back in now with 2nd and 11 and Brent Celek commits an offensive pass interference penalty. 2nd and 21 is the situation. Here is where Kolb makes his first bad throw — off target over the head of DeSean Jackson. A pass which had no chance.
At 3rd and 21, Andy Reid takes Kolb out again. Vick gains some yards (again on the ground) and the Eagles get a FG. Not a stellar drive for Kolb but he’s already been taken out of the game and on the sidelines for 3 plays and it’s 10 minutes into the game.
As Troy Aikman notes, “you’ve got a young nervous quarterback making his first start of the season… you want to give him at least some time in there to settle in and not having to be coming in and off the field the way he has here in the early going.”
Does everyone ready to bench Kolb understand that quarterbacks tend to get into a rhythm. Andy Reid’s playcalling is a travesty and has given Kolb exactly zero chance to get in a rhythm. By my count, not including two passes called back for penalties, Kolb has completed one easy pass, had Celek drop one, and missed on a long 17 yarder. We’re at the end of the first quarter and so far, despite the groanings of Eagles comic book guy, Kolb is still not having the worst. day. ever.
3rd drive: McCoy runs for 3 yards. Kolb makes a nice little throw to Maclin for 6 yards. Off the field comes Kolb again and Michael Vick picks up the first. Kolb comes back on and at this point we say goodbye to Leonard Weaver’s season. On second and 10, BJ Raji comes right up the middle and sacks Kolb, who had no pocket to work with at all. On 3rd and 19, Kolb throws down the field and almost gets picked off.
Again, Kolb isn’t making plays but circumstances put him in a long pass situation. On third down, he could have checked down to LeSean McCoy for a 5 yard gain. But it was 3rd and 19. Another drive where Kolb doesn’t even get to stay under center for more than 3 downs. The Packers are also blitzing him heavily — as they should because he’s inexperienced.
So right now, on a total of 5 passes, Kolb has made 1 really bad decision. Not Bobby (1st four games) Hoying-esque but also not Bobby (rest of career) Hoying-esque either.
4th drive: Andy out-thinking everyone again and putting Mike Vick to start the series. Immediately Jason Peters, Pro Bowler, commits a holding penalty. At 1st and 20, Kolb comes back in and throws incomplete to DeSean Jackson. It looks like the pass is on target but Tramon Williams makes a nice play. On 2nd and 20, (and we pause here to say goodbye to Jamal Jackson’s season) Kolb sidesteps pressure and makes a little dump off pass to McCoy who picks up 6 yards.
On the last play of this drive, the Packers drop eight into coverage so nobody is open and only deploy a 3 man rush. Winston Justice is beaten by Clay Matthews, who runs down Kolb and tackles him. On this play, Kolb suffers a concussion.
5th drive: No point in evaluating this drive. The man has a concussion. We’re lucky he didn’t kick the ball through his own upright. Given the NFL’s emphasis on protecting players with concussions, it’s a crime that Kolb is even back out there. Nice job, Eagles training staff.
Now that I’ve exhaustively gone over every single play in the “Kevin Kolb era”, is it really time to move onto Vick? Given the shameful playcalling and shuttling in and out of Kolb and Vick, do we really have enough evidence to say Kolb is a bum? That seems to be the sentiment in Philly today.
Which leads us to…
The Michael Vick Experience
Michael Vick looked fantastic yesterday. Like the Michael Vick of the Atlanta Falcons. And while the old Michael Vick is exciting to watch, he is not a quarterback that can win you championships. It’s funny how Eagles fans repeatedly said this while he was an Atlanta Falcon yet conveniently have forgotten that fact when calling for Vick to supplant Kolb.
There is no doubt that Michael Vick had some nice drives in the second half. He was elusive, he made some nice throws, and he moved the team down the field. Two things of note here: the Packers defense dialed down the blitzing with Vick in there and dared him to beat them with his arm; In addition, the Packers were nursing a multi-touchdown lead and played accordingly. Just look at the change in defense on the last drive of the game when the Packers were defending only a 7 point lead. And, of course, Vick didn’t have Andy Reid shuttling in Kafka every 3rd play either.
I understand this is what Vick brings to the table. He can beat you with his legs and when you are scared of his running ability, he might be able to find some holes in the defense with the pass. But remember that the Packers were not gameplanning for Vick except for in the odd wildcat play. A good defense will always be prepared to shut down Vick. His pinball style of football does not get it done in the playoffs.
I have no moral problem with Vick being on the Eagles. He committed a crime, served his time and now has a second chance. I simply don’t think Vick is the answer at quarterback to lead the Eagles to a Lombardi. If Eagles fans merely want a nice season with no trophy to show for it in the end, we should have just kept McNabb around.
Starting Vick for the rest of the season is foolish and shortsighted. Let’s find out if Kevin Kolb is the answer before we run him out of town on 4 drives. Let’s have Andy Reid not call a game like an ADHD addled teenager and see what Kolb brings to the table. If Kolb stinks after a year and shows absolutely no progression, I’ll be more than happy to drive him to the airport with a one way ticket. But for now, let’s show a little patience and a little perspective.
In order to give this team any chance of a future, the jury must still be out on Kolb. That is, if the ultimate goal is to win the Super Bowl. However, if Sportscenter highlights are what fills your cup, then by all means, lobby for Vick.