One of my best friends is a lifelong Philadelphia Eagles fan. He lives and dies with the Birds.
He had the same love/hate relationship with Donovan McNabb that every other Philly fanatic had from 1999 to 2009 and was as excited as anybody for the dawn of the Kevin Kolb era in 2010. He then watched Kolb complete 60 percent of his passes in his first season as a starter.
So one year later, when trade speculation surfaced linking Kolb to my Seattle Seahawks, my friend texted me: "Haha, you should absolutely be worried. With any luck, NFL owners will get their way, and you'll eventually get to see Kolb poop himself 18 times a year."
Wasn't this the same Kolb who was supposed to do everything right that McNabb did wrong? The guy who was supposed to get Andy Reid and the Eagles over that hump McNabb never could?
The guy who racked up more than 100 total touchdowns and nearly 13,000 passing yards at the University of Houston?
True, Michael Vick had deservedly jacked Kolb's job and put together an MVP-worthy season in 2010. But wasn't it too early for the Eagles to give up on a 26-year-old who threw for 391 yards in his first NFL start, won NFC Offensive Player of the Week in his second start and won the award again last season—thanks to 326 yards and three touchdowns—during a win over a team (Atlanta) that finished with the best record in the conference?
Aaron Rodgers spent the first three years of his career sitting behind a future Hall of Famer, took his lumps upon getting the job and now he's the NFL's new golden boy. Kolb started out the same way, and although he didn't play terribly during his brief time to shine, he's on his way out the door.
Of all the teams speculated to be in the running for Kolb, the Arizona Cardinals seem like the most sensible option for all parties. They have some of what Philly wants, their best player is a Kolb fan and their coach is known to excel in certain QB-friendly areas (e.g. creative play-calling) that aren't exactly Reid's calling card.
Is Kolb really the right guy for Arizona, though? Here are five reasons why trading for Kolb could set the Cardinals back from where they want to go.
Maybe the Eagles are being too quick to unload Kolb, but that doesn't mean they're stupid. Philly's front office realizes Kolb's upside and, more importantly, the perception of his upside.
So they're going to ask for a lot in return in a Kolb trade, like first-round draft picks and/or established players who can start right away.
The best-case scenario for Arizona is swapping some high draft picks for Kolb, which hurts the Cardinals in the future. The worst-case scenario? They hand Philly an impact player—such as cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, linebacker Daryl Washington or rookie phenom CB Patrick Peterson—that hurts them in the present and the future.
Arizona's defense finished 30th in the NFL last season in points allowed and 29th in total yards allowed. What good is upgrading at quarterback if it costs you one of the best players on an already struggling defense?
The Cardinals have talent but not enough to give up the pieces required to get Kolb and remain a legit contender.
The main reason Kolb was benched in favor of Vick (besides his Week 1 concussion) is that Kolb wasn't mobile enough to survive and thrive behind Philadelphia's leaky offensive line.
Granted, no starting QB in the league—outside of maybe Cam Newton—can match Vick's ability to pick up yards on the ground and shed tacklers. But Kolb needs more protection than a little bit.
The Cardinals have a young O-line that hasn't proven any more dependable than the unit in Philly. Arizona ranked 32nd in the NFL in rushing last season (86.8 yards per game) despite having some talented ball carriers like Beanie Wells and Tim Hightower.
Arizona also ranked 29th in sacks allowed, and only six teams committed more penalties (i.e., lots of holding and offside calls). And they didn't use any of their 2011 draft picks on offensive linemen.
Kolb does a few things well on the field, but buying himself time and making plays on the run aren't on that list. He could get away with that on a lot of teams, but the Cardinals aren't one of them.
Not quite. I'm not saying Fitz doesn't know what he's talking about, because he definitely has more football credentials than any sportswriter, but consider his circumstances:
Fitzgerald just wrapped up a season where he caught balls from Derek Anderson, John Skelton, Max Hall and Richard Bartel. His team went 5-11 and missed the playoffs, two years after playing in the Super Bowl.
He watched a Green Bay team he'd beaten in the 2010 playoffs win it all in 2011. He's frustrated and disappointed, and right now, Kolb is probably looking like that girl across the club who you don't know yet is all hair and makeup and favorable lighting.
Fitzgerald enjoyed his best success with Kurt Warner, a quick decision-maker who could get the ball downfield while staying calm under pressure. Kolb has the arm and the whole Texas gunslinger look going for him, but so far he just hasn't been a big-play quarterback.
In the five games Kolb started last season, Philadelphia's leading receiver was regular No. 2 option Jeremy Maclin (334 yards), followed by third-banana Jason Avant (176 yards) and running back LeSean McCoy (168 yards).
Meanwhile, the Eagles' best wide receiver, DeSean Jackson, totaled seven catches for 88 yards in the games he started alongside Kolb.
Now, you could delve deeper and chalk some of that up to specific coverages and defenses Philly was up against, but the main point is that Kolb could hardly get the ball to his team's top target. His propensity to settle for the check-down receiver is noticeable even on TV.
After a few games of that, how will Fitzgerald feel about his QB? Every receiver past the age of seven believes they're always open and wants the ball more, but if a superstar like Fitz is disgruntled, it can bring the whole team down.
Philadelphia is a notoriously tough city for athletes, especially for the man playing QB for the Eagles. Scrutiny is harsh and never-ending, and pressure is omnipresent.
But, while it seems like Kolb would be better off in a place like Arizona where the stovetop isn't so hot, in reality, Kolb would face even higher expectations with the Cardinals. And he hasn't shown he can handle that yet.
The Cards want Kolb because they think they can win now. Fitzgerald is in his prime, either Wells, Hightower or rookie RB Ryan Williams is ready to become a star, the O-line and defense are believed to be improving and the NFC West is open for the taking.
Accurate or not, the thought is that the big missing piece in Arizona is the QB.
With the Eagles, there was actually a grace period. Remember, before Vick blew up, the Philadelphia and national fans/media had generally accepted 2010 would be something of a rebuilding year post-McNabb.
Kolb would be expected to turn the Cardinals around immediately, and this is a man who only has seven career NFL starts. Plus he'll be in a contract year, with all the internal pressure that presents.
It's that simple.
I'm not saying Kolb isn't talented; he has the tools to be an NFL quarterback, even a starting quarterback...probably even a decent starting quarterback.
But he's nobody's savior. He's not the QB who turns a good team into a champion, or a 5-11 team into a playoff squad.
Yes, we've all seen Rex Grossman, Trent Dilfer and Brad Johnson help guide their teams to the Super Bowl, but each of them was surrounded by more talent—particularly on the defensive side of the ball—than Kolb would have in Arizona.
Even if Kolb comes into the desert putting up 3,000 yards and 25 TDs a year, how many games can the Cardinals win after poking holes in their defense and possibly giving up valuable draft picks to get him?
Arizona can be a decent team with Kolb under center. But with all it would take to get him, and considering what he brings to the table, there's not much telling me they'll be a great team.
And that's what the Cardinals are trying to become.