Donovan McNabb, Kevin Kolb, and the West Coast Offense

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Donovan McNabb, Kevin Kolb, and the West Coast Offense
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When Aaron Rodgers was drafted by Green Bay in the first round of the 2005 NFL Draft, the writing on the wall was pretty much set as to who would be Brett Favre’s successor.

 

While the Eagles drafted Kevin Kolb in the second round of the 2007 NFL Draft, a similar sentiment was expressed about who would be the quarterback of the future for the Philadelphia Eagles.

 

Kolb, who was originally not projected as being that early of a pick, was impressive enough in Houston to woo Eagles' coach Andy Reid and Eagles' management into selecting him much earlier than anyone would have guessed.

 

Factor in at the time that McNabb was coming off his third major injury in his last seven seasons in the form of a torn ACL, the speculation of when Kevin Kolb would take over began as soon as his name was uttered on the podium.

 

Of course, McNabb sitting at home was probably as surprised as anyone else by the move of another quarterback being drafted by the franchise that he had lead for nearly a decade. Although in retrospect, he probably shouldn’t have been, considering what his time in Philadelphia had included: a tenure that had consisted of being booed on draft day, being injury prone, the Rush Limbaugh controversy, being accused of throwing up in Superbowl XXXIX’s final minutes, and the famed feud with Terrell Owens, just to list a few.

 

While it is a bit unfair, McNabb has always been accused of being good, but not being good enough to solidify himself among the league’s top elite quarterbacks. While six pro-bowls and five NFC championship games in an eight year span are a great achievement, the BIG zero in terms of Superbowl wins in the Reid/McNabb era is what the duo has been judged by.

 

In a sense, fans are right to be frustrated and those outside the franchise have the right to be baffled by the Eagles' inability to win it all since the start of the 1999 season. Consider the following: the Eagles' franchise is the only team besides the Indianapolis Colts and the New England Patriots to win 100+ games this decade, but not have a Lombardi trophy to show for it (unlike the other two teams).

 

Combine this record with the fact that the Eagles are the only team in the NFC East to not have won a Superbowl since the AFL/NFL merger and it is easy to see why fans have been frustrated with the team’s failures after promising runs in the regular and postseason.

 

This year marked the first time that the Eagles with McNabb as their quarterback failed to get past the first round of the postseason. The Dallas Cowboys not only swept the Eagles in the regular season, but manhandled them fairly easily in the wild card round as well.

 

Ultimately, the blame should be spread all around for the Eagles' embarrassing performances, from Andy Reid’s unbalanced pass to run ratio offense, to the Eagles' defense not being able to stop the Cowboys in any way whatsoever, to the Eagles' best weapon DeSean Jackson pulling a Houdini act and being nowhere to be found in the most important games the Eagles played all season.

 

However, all those things aside, McNabb certainly did not play his best against the Cowboys either, he was inaccurate and very inconsistent—something that has plagued McNabb all his career.

 

I certainly believe that McNabb is in the Top 10 quarterback level when you look around what some of the league has comparatively to the Eagles in starting QB talent. However, after 11 seasons of monotonous trends and mounting frustration, I believe it is best if both parties just parted ways.

 

It would certainly be beneficial for the Eagles to trade McNabb now rather than keep him and see what happens next year. Despite what people may believe about the Eagles' woes being a quick fix, I believe things are going to take much longer than a one year span to be completely right.

 

Bolstering the defense through the draft is definitely the way to go, but it usually takes three to four years for those players to have good experience in the regular and postseason in the NFL in order to be able to learn how to win key games.

 

And while having Stewart Bradley back in the middle will be nice come next season, the glaring holes at the safety and defensive line positions are miles away from being dependable and secured. On the opposite side of the ball, the offensive line is in shambles at the moment and will take more than just one offseason to play with the consistency that everyone had hoped for when they were brought together in training camp this year.

 

Looking at the starting quarterback position, McNabb will be turning 34 in November and having played more than a decade in the league, he is suddenly not going to change into a 65% passer and he is certainly not going to stop throwing balls in the dirt at least once or twice a game (a pet peeve of pretty much all Eagles' fans).

 

You know what you have with McNabb--a big arm, ability to buy time in the pocket, and a guy who doesn’t throw many INTs. At the same time, you have a guy who is inaccurate and very hot and cold when it comes to his play as well.

 

Overall, I believe that McNabb could have been a better Quarterback were he playing in a different system for most of his career. The West Coast offense which is what Andy Reid likes to run in Philadelphia, is predicated on being highly accurate in completion of short to intermediary routes on a consistent basis. McNabb’s greatest weakness is throwing these short slant and curl routes which are time based and usually into tight coverage.

 

These play calls and routes not only help with keeping drives alive, but also help greatly with time of possession—both areas are something that the Eagles struggle with.

 

In all fairness, like most NFL teams, the Eagles don’t run a pure West Coast offense, but rather a variation of it. Their version calls for a lot more down-field pass attempts, making them one of the most explosive offenses in the league, but at the same time, one of the most inconsistent in terms of being able to stay on the field as well.

 

A different system for McNabb and a new starting QB for the Eagles might help the struggles of all parties involved. From watching Kevin Kolb play, my only concern so far has been his arm strength. This might be a good thing for the Eagles, though if Kolb doesn’t quite match Donovan’s canon for an arm, as it might force them to revert to a more conventional west coast offense playing style.

 

I’ve only seen him play briefly, but Kevin Kolb definitely has the accuracy and mechanics to function in such a traditional offense should they choose to implement a more original version of the west coast.

 

Don’t misunderstand me, the Eagles are not going to win the Superbowl with Kevin Kolb starting at QB next year either—that kind of thing just doesn’t happen overnight. However, with three years of grooming (as was done previously in the NFL with new QBs) and a talented group of playmakers all around him, don’t be surprised if the new era (should they trade McNabb) with Kevin Kolb gets better results than the one that the Eagles are currently in, come two or three seasons from now.  

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