Kevin Kolb was one of the biggest and most highly criticized acquisitions of the offseason, and the Arizona Cardinals put their faith in him for a long time. Kolb signed a five-year, $63 million contract to become the starter and successor to legend Kurt Warner.
This weekend, Kolb had his first regular season start as a Cardinal and the team beat the Carolina Panthers 28-21. Kolb gave the team an actual quarterback—not a fill-in like Derek Anderson or Max Hall—and a trusted head of the offense.
Read on for an analysis of Kolb's first start and an overall grade on how he performed.
Kolb completed 18 of 27 passes for 309 yards and two touchdowns in his debut regular-season game. Kolb also was sacked twice and fumbled the ball twice. Overall, it wasn't a bad statistical debut, but it definitely could have been better.
Looking at the stats, Kolb controlled the deep passing game with 199 of his 309 yards coming from completions of 10 yards and longer. This is something the Cards never had last year and should completely change the dynamics of the team. When this is coupled with good offensive line play, it could lead to a bunch of wins and the return of winning ways in the desert.
One thing that could be improved is the short game. Every good quarterback knows shorter passes can essentially be an extension of the running game and have to be taken advantage of. If Kolb could use his skill at throwing the deep ball to get the defense cheating downfield, underneath passes will open up for all the speedy receivers on the team.
Kolb has gained the trust of his teammates with his performance in practice and against the Panthers. Even when the offensive line had problems and he was on the run, Kolb never looked frustrated and came back strong the next play.
He seems like one of the unquestioned leaders of the team, along with Larry Fitzgerald, Adrian Wilson and Darnell Dockett, and he's embracing it with open arms. Head coach Ken Whisenhunt believes Kolb can be the player they expect him to be, and it doesn't hurt that Fitzgerald loves playing with him.
If Kolb can keep this up, the quarterback position will be exponentially better then last season, and the team will be on the right path to many more victories.
Kolb had a successful debut and really only his stats could have been better, everything else was great. He controlled the huddle, scrambled away from most pressure, made key throws down the stretch and helped lead his team to a come-from-behind victory.
Sure he could've had more completions and passing attempts or maybe even some rushing yards, but a win is good enough for Cardinals fans. He provides a capable quarterback who can run the team effectively and a good leader in the clubhouse. The fact that he only completed 18 passes for 309 yards ups my expectations for when he gets more attempts and completions.
Overall, good opening game for Kolb and hopefully the first of many more to come.