August 21, 2010

Mixing up a Kolb salad.

Two preseason games into the Kevin Kolb era, color me undecided.

I can't imagine any Philadelphia Eagles fan knows just what to think. I'm on the record as being very much pro-change, but I also understand that a) transition takes time and b) Kolb's not getting behind the wheel of a Super Bowl contender. There are a lot of good pieces in Philadelphia now, a lot of talent, but no telling if, or when, it'll all come together.

It doesn't help that he's replacing the most successful QB the Eagles have ever had, even if that particular QB had worn out his welcome. Whether you loved him or hated him, McNabb won 101 games in Philadelphia. Playoff berths around here are expected, not treasured. Kolb might do this, that and the other thing better than Donovan, but if the Eagles are behind on the scoreboard when the clock hits zero, no one is going to care. It's that part of McNabb's legacy that Kolb might have trouble following.

But if you Google News "Kevin Kolb," you'd never know it. When assessing his progress, it helps to ignore the media at all costs. On one side, there's an writer pronouncing that Kolb will soon join the NFL's elite. On the other, Marty Mornhinweg is insinuating that past wasted timeouts and play-calling issues should lessen in McNabb's wake. And let's not forget the latent racism inherent in all "Kolb is a better decision-maker" and "Kolb is more accurate" statements. Mix all that together and you get a lot of speculation mixed with extremely high expectations, a Kolb salad that this current roster probably isn't equipped to digest.

So far, this is what we do know: Kevin Kolb appears to throw well on the run. He takes more chances with the ball than McNabb, but his short-passing game does appear to be a bit better. He's threaded the needle on some great passes to DeSean Jackson, but he's also kept up the Eagles tradition of red zone futility. He looks "poised," but that's like complimenting someone you just met as "nice," an unimpressive and uninspired quality. He's going to be a starting quarterback in the NFL, I would hope he's fucking poised.

His offensive line is also awful, or at least playing that way, which doesn't bode well for his health and well-being. David Carr could have been the most talented quarterback in the world, but playing in front of that sieve of an offensive line in Houston destroyed both his body and his psyche. Factor in the idiotic illegal formation penalties we saw last night and you're talking about a potential disaster.

Luckily, most of the weak interior line is currently populated with stopgaps. Unluckily, the health of true starters Jamaal Jackson and Todd Herremans remains very much in question. If the backups can't hold down the fort for at least a few weeks, the Eagles could be on the bottom looking up in the NFC East. And Kolb may find himself in need of a serious backiotomy.

But he's got weapons in Jackson, Jeremy Maclin, Brent Celek, Jason Avant and LeSean McCoy. Maybe the most weapons in the league, if Maclin and McCoy take the next step everyone is hoping for. And it is the preseason, so it's not like Reid and Mornhinweg are using every page of the playbook. It's been pretty basic so far, and if Celek holds onto that end zone touchdown last week, maybe everything is hunky dory, even after last night.

But he didn't, and so far only fleeting moments, like Stewart Bradley's crushing hit on Chad Ochocinco, have gotten me very excited. All I feel like I know for sure is that the Cincinnati Bengals are above-average and the Jacksonville Jaguars are below-average. Does that mean the Eagles are right in the middle, hovering around the dreaded 8-8 season? Perhaps, but like most teams, they'll go as far as their quarterback will take them. It looks like we'll have to wait until September 12th in Philly to get an idea as to just how far that might be.

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