Philadelphia Eagles Week One: The Kevin Kolb Era Begins with a Disaster

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Philadelphia Eagles Week One: The Kevin Kolb Era Begins with a Disaster
Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images
Kevin Kolb had limited success against the Packers

Under Andy Reid, the Eagles week one game seems to either go remarkably well, or end up a complete mess.

Here are some of the more notable lowlights:

1999 – In Reid’s debut, they blow a 17 point lead to the Cardinals.

2003 – In the first game at the Linc, they get shut out by the defending champion Bucaneers.

2007 – With no experienced punt returners on the rosters, the Eagles muff two punts leading to a loss to the Packers.

On the other hand, here are some week one highlights from years past:

2000 – The “pickle juice” game where Duce Staley rushed for over 200 yards in a rout of the Cowboys.

2004 – In T.O.’s debut, he scores three TDs as they dominate the Giants.

2008 – They completely overwhelm the Rams in all facets of the game.

So there was a decent chance that Kolb’s debut as full time starter would either be a rousing success or a disaster. Little room for middle-ground.

Looking back, it would be hard to classify the game as anything but a disaster.  They lost the game, looked bad doing it, and suffered some major injuries.  And to top it off, Reid may have a brewing quarterback contraversy on his hands. 

Here’s a look at what went right and what went wrong.

The highlights:

- Michael Vick looked like the QB he was before his incarceration.  He was very elusive and made some big plays in leading a comeback attempt.  His speed seems to be all the way back, as defenders couldn’t seem to catch up with him.

- Although hindered by constant bad field position, the defense looked decent.  The defensive line was able to get some good pressure on Aaron Rodgers, and they had two interceptions.  It was a far from perfect effort though, as there were some breakdowns in coverage (Ellis Hobbs got burned badly), but overall, they looked OK.

- LeSean McCoy played well, scoring a TD.  He even had to score it twice since it was called back due to penalty the first time.

- David Akers and Sav Rocca kicked the ball well.

The lowlights:

- The Kolb-led offense looked bad.  Perhaps part of the problem was that Reid kept running Michael Vick in and out of the game.  I’m not sure if that hurt Kolb’s rythym or momentum, but it certainly didn’t seem to help.  Kolb had many bad decisions, and the Packers probably should have had at least two more interceptions.

- Special teams coverage units were horrendous.  The Packers seemed to get a big return on just about every kick.  This not only killed the Eagles’ momentum after they scored, but it also put the defense in tough spots.

- Eldra Buckley played as if he wanted to be cut from the team.  He fumbled on offense, missed a special teams tackle, and then hit the Packers punt returner after he signalled for a fair catch.  If the Eagles have to add players as injury replacements, it wouldn’t surprise me if Buckley is the one cut to make room.

- They committed a lot of penalties.  Especially costly were the penalties on LT Jason Peters who is continuing to show that he is overrated and overpaid.

- They suffered some major injuries:

Both Kolb and MLB Stewart Bradley suffered concussions.  Although for some bizarre reason, they did return to the game before being taken out.  Aren’t teams supposed to be more careful about concussions now?

Was it just me, or did anyone think that Kolb’s helmet didn’t seem to fit him right?  I was saying that his head didn’t look quite right in it.  I don’t know if that contributed to the injury or not, but it’s worth noting.

Center Jamaal Jackson suffered a bicep injury and may be out for the season.  This is bad news since the Eagles didn’t show any faith in his replacements and he was rushed back into the lineup for the season opener.

Fullback Leonard Weaver suffered an especially gruesome looking knee injury.  He has a torn ACL and will be out for the season.

- Michael Vick also showed his limitations as a QB.  While he made some great plays, he also made some key mistakes, and showed why many thought he would never be able to pass well enough to truly succeed.  He also failed in his biggest spot, on the late 4th and 1. 

Weren’t those the situations that Vick was supposed to specialize in?

I won’t be too hard on Vick since he did lead the team back, and didn’t get to practice much with the first team.  Since it is likely that he’ll be starting next week, we’ll see how he does after a full week of practice with the starters.

Bad Andy Reid Coaching Move of the Week

It is well established that Reid is bad with clock management.  You’d think that after ten years in the league, he might have brought in someone to help with this, but instead we get game after game of misused challenges, poorly run two-minute drills, and wasted timeouts.

Late in the game, with the Packers driving, Reid called his timeouts.  That wasn’t necessarily a bad move since he wanted to conserve as much time as possible for when the Eagles got the ball back.  Except that he inexplicably called one when a measurement was being made, and the clock was stopped anyway.  Even the announcers couldn’t figure this one out.

Ultimately, this didn’t cost the Eagles, but it was still a bad move.

Elsewhere in the NFL

- My prediction that the Houston Texans would win the AFC South got off to a good start as the Texans upset the Colts.  RB Arian Foster — who I wisely drafted in my fantasy league – was easily the top performer in week one.

- The Redskins beat the Cowboys, mostly due to a decision by Dallas coach Wade Phillips.  On his own side of the field with less than a minute remaining, Phillips decided to try for another score.  Aggression isn’t normally the worst thing for a football coach, but the chances of them scoring here were minimal.

Perhaps more bizarrely, the call was for a shovel pass to RB Tashard Choice.  I’m not sure how Phillips expected this play to result in a score.  Unless you’re going to throw deep, just kneel down.  And for some reason, despite a long way to go, Choice decided to keep fighting for yards.  This resulted in a fumble and a Redskins touchdown that ultimately decided the game.

Eagles’ Next Opponent

The Detroit Lions may have somehow had a worse week than the Eagles.  Like the Eagles, they lost their starting QB as Matthew Stafford suffered a shoulder injury.  It looks like he’ll be out a few weeks at least.

Worse, as they were making a late drive to win the game against the Bears, they had a late, apparent game-winning TD called back because WR didn’t “complete the catch.”  I’ve watched the play several times, and I’m not sure if I agree or disagree with the call.  I could see it going either way.

Final Analysis

One loss, no matter how bad it looks, does not necessarily mean that there’s no hope for the season.  There have been many good teams that looked bad in week one.

On the other hand, the injuries are going to hurt.  Weaver was a solid contributor last year, and they saw what life is like without Jackson and Bradley last season.  The results were not pretty.  In yesterday’s game, Mike McGlynn seemed to fill in adequately at center, but Bradley’s replacement (Omar Gaither) played poorly, missing a few tackles.

As for the potential QB controversy, I don’t think anything will come of it.  Kolb will probably miss a week or two, but much like Donovan McNabb was reinstated when healthy last year, I think Kolb will be right back under center when he’s ready to play.  They know that Kolb is the future of the franchise, and it does the team no long-term good to have Vick play instead of him.

And for those of you who have already soured on the Kolb era, I want to remind you that the offense had more than its share of bad games under McNabb.  In fact, Kolb’s performance was somewhat reminiscent of some of McNabb’s bad days.  It is way too early to give up on Kolb.

Finally, try and remember that the Packers are expected to be one of the top teams in the NFL this year.  If they look equally bad next week against the Lions, then it might be time for some serious concern.

Originally published in my blog: Stranger in a Strange Land

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