Posts Tagged ‘Kevin Kolb’

Where has all the leadership gone?

October 5, 2010 1 comment

What do sports and Andy Reid have in common? They have no idea how to stick to a plan.

This game was supposed to be about McNabb returning to play against the Eagles. It was supposed to be about the cheers and the boos. It was supposed to be about Michael Vick reminding us we can forget Donovan. But sports don’t know how to follow the scripts the commentators write ahead of the game, that’s why tens of thousands show up at the stadium and millions watch on their TV sets.

It might as well be the signal for "Are you F-ing kidding me?"

For me, all the storylines and hype became moot right before halftime when I watched a team fail to run a play in time, after that time included a lengthy booth review and a timeout. Under that circumstance, it would have been more pleasurable for the crowd to hear nails on a chalkboard played over the P.A. system than the official’s delay of game announcement.

My reaction was unruly. It included an involuntary disregard for the children in the row behind me.

After dealing with my own bewilderment for a moment or two, while Andy Reid scrapped whatever stupid-ass play he couldn’t even figure out how to call, I thought about how guys like LeSean McCoy and DeSean Jackson must feel about this incompetence. How can they take the coaches for serious leaders? Maybe they can excuse their generals once and a while, but week after week?

At halftime, I realized that was the new storyline being written by this game, at least the way I was reading it from my seats in the Linc.

The moment Vick stumbled off the field, so too did the team’s identity. Once Vick disappeared into the locker room, all sense of leadership on that field disappeared with him. The emergence of Vick included the rise of a swagger and confidence that the club started carrying to back its arsenal of talent.

Andy Reid watching his team's identity go down with an injury

Reid has established a fine legacy here, as the years of success have been rightfully associated with his tenure at the helm. But it’s becoming clear that McNabb helped mask Reid’s identity for both good and ill. His performance undoubtedly bailed out the head coach’s shortcomings at times, and the QB’s failures rightfully shouldered plenty of the criticisms.

But thousands of undistracted eyes are now fixated on Reid in a way they’ve never been before. Only he remains as a figure from those glorious years, so we’ve naturally put our trust in him to know what to do with the young talent on the team. Yet he continues to have no management of his group, and his fellow coaches don’t seem to be helping out at all. It has become clearer by the Sunday, that Jim Johnson was the game breaker on the sidelines during the Eagles stretch of success.

JJ’s defense used to insert fear into the middle of opposing offenses’ game plans. Fans took to him more than your average coordinator, because it was obvious that the fan base had confidence in his preparation and his control of the game. We’re an astute group here in Philly, any national broadcaster will concede that. I think we were on to something, and now we miss Jim Johnson immensely. At this point, I’d consider placing Johnson’s tombstone on the sideline with a headset on it in favor of Sean McDermott as defensive coordinator.

Has anyone recently had success with a séance?

Once Vick exited, it was time for Reid to rescue the game, but his questionable judgment as a decision-maker and evaluator of talent became immediately re-exposed. Without Vick there to bail him out, we got another look at Kevin Kolb.

Even those who argue that Kolb did what he had to do, getting back in the game by taking what the defense gave him, getting one Jason Avant snag away from winning, their tone admits he did a serviceable job. He was given an ideal chance to redeem himself. McDermott and the D actually got their shit together enough to stop giving up points. Kolb was afforded one opportunity after another to put points on the board. But what some are calling a smart, conservative approach that he took, I am calling a struggle.

How many times have we heard the coaching staff say Kolb can make every throw? How many times have we heard the Sal Paolantonio’s of the Eagles media world regurgitate the confidence the Eagles staff has in Kolb? Sal, when are you going to start to distrust a staff that can’t even make a goal line play call within a five minute time span? Could it be that Kolb can only make the throws at the NovaCare complex? Why couldn’t he make the throw to Jackson who got open deep with a move toward the sideline late in the game? Ok, maybe he does make that throw next time, but what good is it if he doesn’t SEE it next time? Maclin was open deep on more than one occasion in the fourth quarter, and Kolb didn’t even look his way. I did, however, see him pass the ball through a defender’s hands a couple times, so at least he’s got that throw down pat.

I would not give up on Kolb completely right now, but the idea of turning the franchise over to him is becoming scarier than any haunted house I will be visiting on Halloween. Kolb came into a very similar situation as Vick did in Week 1, and he came in against a defense with half the intimidation as the Packers. Whereas it took Vick five ticks of the clock to wow me, Kolb did little to impress in three full quarters. I want to like Kolb, because the media and his teammates talk of him as a fighter and a fiery competitor. He had a golden chance to redeem himself and strut his stuff. But he looked like a drone under center more than a commander.

It’s too bad, because Kolb could have written a post game script worthy of a Pulitzer. Instead, we wound up with a story we’ve all read so many times before.

McNabb Left Town, But Controversy Hasn’t: Is this really Kevin Kolb’s Team?

September 18, 2010 Leave a comment

Last week, as a passenger in my friend’s car, talking about our predictions for the Eagles this year, I said I thought Michael Vick would wind up starting at least four or five games for the Birds this season.

The questionable competence of our offensive line led me to believe it would be difficult to keep Kevin Kolb healthy. If Donovan McNabb, with the body of a middle linebacker, couldn’t stay healthy over the last couple years, it didn’t bode well for the more diminutive Kolb.

Sure enough, 30 minutes into the season, Kolb was knocked out of the game, literally, with a concussion. Granted, the injury could be blamed as much on the chemical imbalance of Clay Matthews as the lack of protection, but the bottom line is that it didn’t take long for Kolb to be sidelined.

Now, after Week 1, Michael Vick has already seen significant time on the field as the team leader, not just a gimmick who steps into the game for a hot sec to make the defense play guessing games.

Who cares how he did it? Michael Vick made the Eagles better in Week 1.

So here we are, with the Donovan McNabb hullabaloo behind us, yet this team and its fans have made absolutely no escape from controversy. In fact, it is a multilayer cake of controversy. Not only is there a debate about the starting QB position, but Eagles fans are struggling with the internal dilemma of rooting for Vick.

During one of Vick’s impressive runs for a first down on Sunday, my buddy yelled at the screen “Run you dog killer run! I’m a dog lover, but if you come back and win this game for us, I forgive you for everything!”

For the record, this friend suffers from a similar imbalance as Clay Matthews. Nevertheless, his comments raise an interesting issue.  Might Kolb be on a shorter leash than Vick now?

There’s no question Vick performed admirably. This entire city, as usual, was psyched for Week 1—the beginning of a new era, and a great first week matchup. But the game was beyond lackluster until Vick resurrected it and almost pulled off the improbable comeback.  His play became relevant in a way unseen up to that point in his Eagles career.

He also forced us to wonder if his talents and style of quarterbacking, as opposed to Kolb’s, would be better suited to the circumstances now surrounding this team.

If the initial issue with the offensive line was a sore spot on the Eagles opening-day body, it has now become a full-blown open wound, as Jamaal Jackson and Leonard Weaver are done for the year.  Pass protection is only going to get worse from here, and the question becomes how detrimental that will be to Kolb’s development.

After what we saw in the opening game, it seems Vick’s athleticism and ad lib ability could very well give the Eagles a better chance to win games this season. But many believe this year is not about winning games, it’s about Kevin Kolb getting his shot.

Yet, would it be worth considering a postponement of his development one more year if he’s just going to take shot after shot and not be given much chance to deliver his own?

Is this how the Eagles pictured Kevin Kolb's development?

It could be beneficial to let Vick take the team for now until improvements are made to the O-line. An article I read made an interesting analogy to David Carr’s career in Houston, one which was pretty much derailed before it started because he unsurprisingly couldn’t figure out how to win games with his ass buried in the turf every second.

Vick’s ass moves too quickly for anyone to bury it. On Sunday, he showed he can be a No. 1 QB.  He may have an unorthodox style that many continue to poo-poo, but success is the barometer. I laugh in the face of all those who, even after Sunday’s performance, talk about how the guy can’t be taken seriously as a quarterback in this league.  They say he wasn’t accurate or Green Bay’s defense let up because they were leading. Give me a break. I look around and see Jason Campbell, Derek Anderson and Trent Edwards starting games. Anyone who can’t even as much as equate Vick’s caliber to those guys clearly couldn’t pass the NFL concussion test.

The Packers head coach even said after the game that Vick adds another dimension to the game and called him a dynamic player. They simply had no answer for him—until the very last play.  That I blame on the Birds’ coaching staff for calling the one play that everyone watching the broadcast and everyone in the stadium—including the Packers D—thought was coming.

As much as things have changed for this team, Sunday reassured us the coaching will remain a familiar presence in our Eagles life this year. Play-calling will continue to be suspect, and clock management will continue taking years off our lives. One of the timeouts was literally pointless!!!! The clock was stopped for a measurement and a timeout was still taken!

Andy Reid admitting for the 340th time that he's got to do a better job. When does he plan on actually doing that?

Moreover, Reid and the Eagles brass will not go back on their plan for Kolb this season.  They’ve earned a reputation as the smug team in town, never properly adjusting to new circumstances as they arise.  Honestly, in this case, they probably shouldn’t renege on their commitment to Kolb.  It’s now or never for him. It’s his fourth year in the league, not his first.

If this is indeed the choice, then Vick has to go.  He is too skilled to be a backup. Period. The way Reid has forced his incorporation into “Kevin Kolb’s offense” is the team’s own admission of that.  Vick will get the nod in Week 2 because of Kolb’s injury. If he performs well again and wins the game, his value will be at the highest point it’s been in years. One has to think another team bitten by the injury bug, or an 0-2 start, would be willing to work out a deal for Vick, perhaps for a promising offensive lineman that could step in to keep the bullies off Kolb’s back.

If the metamorphosis of Mike Kafka from third-string to backup is too frightening, the Eagles can surely bring in a free agent veteran who will be a clear No. 2, there in case of injury. But without losing Vick from the playbook, the so-called commitment to Kevin Kolb is a farce.

If types of quarterbacks could be made into smoothies, the veteran scrambler and young pocket passer combo would not be socially acceptable. But for now, the Eagles continue to shove this nauseating concoction down our throats.

It’s a good time for the Eagles to make a choice, but they’ll likely just keep calling timeouts to think it over.

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