Eagle's Kevin Kolb: Improving Vertical Passing Game Is Key To Success

Carl RagsdaleCorrespondent IIIOctober 3, 2010

PHILADELPHIA - OCTOBER 03:  Kevin Kolb #4 of the Philadelphia Eagles throws a pass against the Washington Redskins on October 3, 2010 at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

After Michael Vick injured his ribs in Sunday's game against the Washington Redskins, Kevin Kolb was given a second chance to prove that he can be the face of the Philadelphia Eagles' franchise in a rivalry game against the man who Kolb replaced: Donovan McNabb. 

In terms of pure statistics, Kolb was decent, but it was obvious to anybody watching the game that the Eagles' offense was instantly much worse once Kolb replaced Vick in the starting lineup.

The Eagles only scored 12 points against a Redskins defense that was ranked 31st in the league in total defense.

What was the problem with Kolb? It was his inability to threaten the defense deep. Take a look at these stats for some of the Eagles' receivers:

Desean Jackson: 3 receptions, 19 yards (6.3 yards/reception)

Jeremy Maclin: 1 reception, 15 yards (15 yards/reception)

Jason Avant: 4 receptions, 31 yards (7.75 yards/reception)

Brent Celek: 3 receptions, 27 yards (9 yards/reception), TD

A group of receivers with the abilities that these players have should be averaging at least 15 to 16-yards per catch as a group. The only receiver that made it into that range was Maclin with one catch. Not to mention, these four only managed 11 receptions total.

What did the Eagles do instead of throwing deep to their big play receivers? They simply threw short underneath passes to Lesean McCoy and Owen Schmitt and hoped for a big play.

Those two running backs along with Mike Bell accounted for over half of the Eagles' pass completions and passing yards.

On the season, Kolb is averaging 5-yards per pass attempt. That's right, McCoy's 5.5 yards per rush attempt is better than Kolb's yards per pass attempt. That should never be the case no matter how good a team's running back is.

Let's keep things in perspective though. This is only grading Kolb on a game and a half of play. No matter how uninspiring his play has been through that stretch, there is the chance that this is just an "off day" by Kolb.

One quick look at the receivers the Eagles have says that they are built as a big play offense.Jackson and Maclin are homerun receivers on the outside, and Celek is capable of putting in a few big plays himself.

The Eagles generated numerous big plays with McNabb last year as well as with Vick this year. Kolb has not been able to duplicate their success so far this year.

For the Eagles' offense to succeed, they have to put the ball in the hands of their big play receivers down the field. That was why Vick was so successful in the time we has been o the field.

No matter what happens from here on out, there will be those who think Vick should be the starter going forward.

However, Reid believes in Kolb and will eventually give Kolb the opportunity to be the franchise quarterback once again.

For Kolb to make the most of that opportunity, he has to look down the field to make the most of what the Eagles have in their receiving corps. If he doesn't, opposing defenses will be able to play closer to the line of scrimmage and only have to worry about defending the short passes.

The result of that is a stagnant Eagles' offense like we saw today and in the first half of the Packers game.