Demystifying the Kevin Kolb Quarterback Phenomenon and Controversy

Leo PizziniAnalyst IFebruary 8, 2010

PHILADELPHIA - SEPTEMBER 27:  Kevin Kolb #4 of the Philadelphia Eagles watches on against the Kansas City Chiefs on September 27, 2009 at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Chris McGrath/Getty Images)
Chris McGrath/Getty Images

Over the last several offseasons there has been a plethora of discussion surrounding Donovan McNabb's future with the Eagles organization. The long standing marriage has been fruitful while not yet having brought home the proverbial bacon in a fandom obsessed with a championship and passionately divided over the Eagles assignment of quarterbacking duties.

Donovan McNabb's strengths and weaknesses have been beat to death, but never more than following 2009, one of his best statistical seasons, that was highlighted by a successful and arguably soft schedule and three crucial losses to the Dallas Cowboys.

He wins, but not when it counts. He chokes under pressure, throws balls in the ground, has suspect accuracy, and overall is perceived as having had enough opportunity to win the big show.

That's one side.

Donovan is also a pro bowl quarterback that has time-in and time-out won big games, had success in the playoffs, earned every Eagles quarterback accolade imaginable, holds the longest consecutive completion streak in NFL history, was the first quarterback ever to pass for 30 touchdowns in a season while throwing less than 10 interceptions and will inevitably win a super bowl if he's traded to another team like the Cardinals or Vikings.

That's the other side.

Moving on...

Should the Eagles deal McNabb, heir apparent Kevin Kolb will be thrust into the Philadelphia media scrutiny and largely impatient fan base.

Let's look at Kevin Kolb very closely to see if the Eagles should or shouldn't put their future in his hands and why the quarterback controversy has attracted national attention.

The Eagles traded up in the second round to draft Kevin Kolb (to the sound of resonating boos) in the 2007 NFL draft (36th overall) after a four year starting stint at the University of Houston where in his senior season, he threw 30 touchdowns and only four interceptions while racking up 12,964 yards passing in his career.

As far as prospects go, Kolb is impressive.

| QB | KEVIN KOLB | 6'3" | 225 LB | AGE 25 |
Career Passing Rushing Sacked 
YearTeamG QBRatCompAttPctYds
Yds/GTDInt RushYdsYds/GAvgTD S 
2003Houston (7-6)13 105.522036061.13131
240.8256 13934626.62.57 24 
2004Houston (3-8)11 84.819835356.12766
251.5116 118514.60.45 42 
2005Houston (6-6)12 84.925341960.43248
270.71915 10420016.71.95 29 
2006Houston (10-4)14 114.429243267.63809
272.1304 11115411.01.44 33 
Career 50 98.5963156461.712954.259.18531 47275115.01.621 128 

The biggest knock on Kolb has not been his play, but that of his highly rated predecessors, Andre Ware and David Klingler, both of whom are considered among the biggest flops of all time.

That as a superstition is not powerful enough to allow us to overlook the fundamental fact that the school has a system and a schedule that has historically been very productive with quarterbacks at the college level who do not acclimate in the NFL.

That being said, all superstitions are proven wrong and cycles are inevitably broken and a player like Kolb at least deserves and will get an opportunity to start in the NFL.

But who wants to walk under the ladder?

The situation is undoubtedly difficult for Kolb who has been relinquished to watching football on Sunday (from one of the best seats) for the last three seasons after having productively started for consecutive years in high school and college.

The indecision and uncertainty of the Eagles quarterbacking disposition for 2010 compounded with the need to get the University of Houston's "monkey off his back" and retake the playing field must eat at the core of Kevin Kolb, the football player and the person.

The Eagles clearly have confidence in Kolb, exemplified by their trading up in the draft to acquire him and the fact that he is still on the team and was made the starting quarterback during McNabb's two-game recovery from broken ribs in 2009 despite the organization having signed Jeff Garcia.

Since Kolb was drafted, he has had a couple shaky preseason performances and training camps, but has demonstrated.composure and an intriguing manner of quarterback conduct on the field to go along with his collegiate success.

Kolb has a had a rocky experience gaining fan support in Philadelphia for all of the aforementioned reasons, but the fans who feel they have been let down by the Eagles decade-long, championship-run shortfalls have grown impatient and demanded change.

Is it, "change you can believe in"?

At this point, the most tenacious segment of the Eagles anti-McNabb fan base is willing to cut there nose to spite their face and dismiss McNabb for better or worse, hoping for better.

Is Kevin Kolb better?

Kolb saw his first game action in 2008 during the infamous "benching" of Donovan McNabb against the Ravens. Unfortunately for all parties involved besides the Ravens, Kolb ultimately surrendered a repeat performance of Donovan McNabb's first half exploits, throwing four interceptions after moving the ball fairly well at times.

It was very easy to throw Kolb under the bus!

The play never to be forgotten was Kolb's interception to Ed Reed eight yards deep in the end zone to cap-off a strong Eagles drive that netted six points for the Ravens.

In 2009, Kolb made the first two starts of his career, relishing the opportunity. Little did we know then, that Kolb was making his first start against the soon to be crowned kings of the 2009 NFL season—the New Orleans Saints.

Kolb played well and kept the game close in the first half. He racked up some impressive statistics against the Saints, but lost key plays to bad decisions. Kolb threw three interceptions and in the end, the Saints overpowered the Eagles offensively and defensively.

Then came Kansas City. A team and defense built for a young quarterback to rip apart and gain in confidence and notoriety. All of which Kolb did: 327 yards, 2 touchdowns and a 34-14 win later against a lowly rebuilding Chiefs team, Kolb looked like Joe Montana, completed over 70 percent of his passes and hooked up with DeSean Jackson on a well thrown skinny post for a long score. 

Instant quarterback controversy, just add water and stir.

Kolb threw for over 700 yards in his two starts with four touchdowns and three interceptions.

But that is all that we really know about Kevin Kolb. An elite college prospect from a suspect program who has looked rough, but played well at times. He lost to the best team in the league and beat one of the worst while posting intriguing statistics.

And here we are: 2007, 2008 and now 2009 are gone and Kolb enters his fourth season with the Eagles. Kolb's contract expires at the end of the 2010 season along with both McNabb and Mike Vick.

The Eagles far reaching options include keeping all three quarterbacks in open competition for 2010 and trading as many as two quarterbacks for draft picks and players that fill needs at other positions. Still, the Eagles are approaching terminal velocity while juggling these quarterbacks and the parabolic limit is 2010.

The Eagles face a difficult and critical decision that will impact their draft and free agency plans for the next several years.

I would like to see the Eagles bring McNabb and Kolb into camp, letting them battle for the job and wishing them both good luck. Give the guy who performs the best in 2010 an extension and pay the price. If it's McNabb, then draft a QB in 2011 or 2012 at the latest. McNabb has staying power for at least three more seasons barring injury.

If it's Kolb, they will only have lost a good draft pick at best (by not trading McNabb), which is only a 50/50 shot at having any value anyway.

The conclusion of the 2010 season is the de facto deadline for this very difficult decision. Being the procrastinator that I am, I would squeeze every ounce of evaluation opportunity out while I wait until the last available minute to make a decision and hope that I don't get burned in the process of playing with fire.

The 2010 Eagles may not be a favorite to win the super bowl, but they will contend with either McNabb or Kolb. I'm rooting for McNabb because he has been so close, and I'm rooting for Kolb because he has waited so long already.

Both players really deserve an opportunity to command this high powered and explosive offense as I am sure Kolb, McNabb and any other quarterback would love.

Of course, if the Bills, Broncos, Browns, Rams, or whoever, make the Eagles an offer that they can't refuse for McNabb or Kolb, they must explore the possibilities as a matter of good business.

As far as the Eagles are concerned, I would think that McNabb must be worth no less than two top prospects at a needed position (defensive end, safety, cornerback, running back, or offensive line), which could be represented by a young player and a first or second round pick or two draft picks—no less than a second and a third.

That's the minimum for consideration regardless of his salary implications.

As for Kevin Kolb, he could be the next Aaron Rogers who steps out of the shadow of a legacy quarterback after a long stay as a prodigal backup and fulfill the need for a young, talented Eagles quarterback for the next decade or become the next David Klingler and successor to the flop-throne of the University of Houston's school of disappointing quarterbacks, thus the beginning of a revolving door effect at the position for the Eagles.

The answer is coming soon to a living room near you!