With the shocking trade of Donovan McNabb to the divisional rival Redskins, the door is open for Kevin Kolb to become the next great quarterback in the city of Brotherly Love.
Head coach Andy Reid and general manager Howie Roseman have bet the future of this franchise (not to mention their respective jobs) on Kolb, so he will be given every opportunity to succeed.
There will be a ton of pressure on Kolb, and Eagles fans are no doubt expecting him to replicate the success of his predecessor. Will he be able to answer the call and meet these high expectations?
Personally, I was dumbfounded, and strongly opposed to the trading of a franchise quarterback within the division, while receiving seemingly little compensation in return— two draft picks, with neither being a first rounder and no established players.
However, I do understand the excitement and support for the trade that Kolb owners have. In two games last season that Kolb played when McNabb was injured, he threw for 391 and 327 yards respectively, and tossed four touchdowns.
At 6’3” 218 pounds, Kolb certainly has the right build for a franchise quarterback. A four-year starter at the University of Houston, Kolb threw nearly 13,000 yards, ranking him fifth all-time in NCAA career passing yardage when he left.
A second round pick in 2007, and now entering his fourth season after three seasons of backing up McNabb, it is now clearly Kolb’s time. And with the supporting cast he has inherited, unless he approaches JaMarcus Russell levels of ineptitude, I simply cannot see him failing.
Let’s talk about that supporting cast.
Under Reid, the Eagles have been a pass-happy team, but even with the change at quarterback, I cannot see any sort of shift in this organizational philosophy.
LeSean McCoy is one of the up-and-coming running backs, and he will still see plenty of work in the backfield and in the passing game. However, the Eagles' strength is in their receivers and tight ends.
DeSean Jackson has emerged as one of the best big-play receivers in the game, capable of burning through any coverage for the quick strike, turning a seemingly innocuous play into a big, game-changing one. Jeremy Maclin is another talented young receiver, whom I believe is primed for a big season in 2010 and beyond.
However, as with any young and inexperienced quarterback, Kolb will lean heavily on his sure-handed tight end Brent Celek—for both designed plays and check-downs. Celek emerged in 2009 as one of the game’s elite pass-catching tight ends, and posted 100-yard receiving games in both of Kolb’s two 2009 starts.
Perhaps the best part of all of this is that all of the aforementioned playmakers, including Kolb, are in their mid-twenties. Those of you in dynasty/keeper leagues should look to target any and all who are involved in the Eagles’ passing game with Kolb at the helm.
There is a good chance the passing game could improve as these players advance in their careers and enter their primes.
My biggest concern surrounding Kolb is the offensive line, which was thoroughly injury- plagued in 2009. They struggled to develop a rapport with guys playing out of position, and the shuffling around resulted in McNabb being sacked 35 times.
The offensive line will have to get healthy and mesh as a unit in order to protect the young and somewhat inexperienced Kolb.
I expected the Eagles to address this position early in the draft, but apparently the organization feels comfortable moving forward with the unit they have intact, as they failed to draft any offensive lineman. If the team is correct, and the line can stay healthy and keep Kolb upright, all looks promising for his future.
While some fantasy owners may be concerned with drafting an unproven quarterback to lead their squads, you shouldn't be overly worried. Kolb has been groomed for the past three seasons to take the reins, and Reid isn’t going to give McNabb away unless he is fully convinced that Kolb will take his place without the Eagles’ offense skipping a beat.
Kolb has the tools, skillset, and most importantly, the weapons to succeed not only in 2010, but for the better part of the next decade in Philly.
If you miss on one of the tier-one quarterbacks, target Kolb, and reap the benefits of a potential QB1 at a QB2 price.
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