Kevin Kolb & The Cardinals

Posted: June 9th, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | Tags: , , | 13 Comments »

Matchmaker, matchmaker
Make me a match
Find me a find
Catch me a catch *

There has been some recent talk about Kevin Kolb and whether he fits the Cardinals offense. After all, that is the team most desperate for a starting QB and Kevin is the best player available. A lot of people are connecting the dots and assuming the Cards go for Kolb. Does he fit?

You can’t judge the Cards offense by how it ran with Kurt Warner. He’s a potential Hall of Fame QB with a quick release and uncanny accuracy. You just don’t find QBs like that on a regular basis. The real question is whether Kolb can run the Cardinals offense effectively. And the answer is yes.

Coach Ken Whisenhunt has built up the stable of RBs, with a desire to shift away from the pass-heavy attack to more of a balanced attack, which is what he ran in Pittsburgh. The Cards now have Tim Hightower, Beanie Wells, Ryan Williams, and Larod Stephens-Howling. That’s potentially an excellent backfield. If the Cardinals run the ball effectively and have a balanced attack, Kolb can thrive in the offense.

Some people point to Kolb’s overall numbers as a sign of him being overrated. He’s got 11 TDs, 14 INTs, and a rating of just 73.2. That looks mediocre. But step inside the numbers for a minute. Let’s examine those INTs.

2008 – 4 INTs – 1 came vs PIT, 2 came vs BAL, and 1 against CLE in garbage time. All 4 picks came in games where Kolb came off the bench. 3 of them came vs elite defenses.

2009 – 3 INTs – All of the INTs came in his start vs the Saints. All were thrown in the 2nd half. The Eagles had fallen behind and Kolb was forced to throw a ton of passes to try and lead a comeback. He finished the game 31-51-391, with 2 TDs and the 3 picks.

2010 – 7 INTs – He threw his first INT against WAS in a game where he came off the bench. He threw one vs the Falcons a couple of weeks later. Kolb threw 2 picks in the loss at TEN. He then threw 3 of them in the meaningless season finale vs DAL while playing with the backups.

14 INTs.

* 5 happened when Kolb had to come off the bench.
* 3 happened in a shootout when he was trying to play catch-up with Drew Brees.
* 3 happened in a meaningless season finale when Kolb had a rookie LT blocking DeMarcus Ware and was throwing the ball to Chad Hall and Riley Cooper.

* Beyond that, 3 of the 14 came at the end of games when Kolb was forcing the ball into coverage in hopes of making a play. Those were risky decisions by design.

Let’s examine the numbers in games when Kolb started (setting aside the 2010 finale w/ the backups):

2009 – L vs NO – 31-51-391…2 TDs, 3 INTs
2009 – W vs KC – 24-34-327…2 TDs, 0 INTs
2010 – L vs GB – 5-10-24…….no TDs or INTs (knocked out of game w/ concussion
2010 – W vs SF – 21-31-253…..1 TD, no INTs
2010 – W vs ATL – 23-29-326…3 TDs, 1 INT
2010 – L vs TEN – 26-248-231…1 TD, 2 INTs

Those numbers look quite different than the overall stats. One other thing to take into consideration is the hard luck that Kevin’s had to deal with.

Brian Westbrook got injured early in the Saints game of ’09 and that put a lot of pressure on Kolb and rookie Shady McCoy, who was only playing his 2nd NFL game. Westbrook missed the KC game, but the Eagles had better prepared for the situation.

Starting LT Jason Peters got hurt early in the SF game and then missed the next 2 weeks. Kolb basically had a backup LT for 2 1/2 games. Stud WR DeSean Jackson got hurt in the 1st half of the ATL game and missed the rest of that and the TEN game.

Kolb isn’t a guy that can take mediocre talent and make it play at a high level. He needs help. That was certainly true of Kurt Warner, and in fact is true of most NFL QBs. Back when Donovan McNabb was young he could put a team on his back and carry them. Kolb doesn’t have that ability. The good news is that Arizona has plenty of talent on the offensive side of the ball.

Larry Fitzgerald is arguably the best WR in football (I’d have him behind Andre/Calvin Johnson). He is a guy that can be a possession receiver as well as a playmaker. Fitzgerald might have the best hands in the NFL. He is able to make some unbelievable catches. He’s also a big WR. Kolb played with small or averaged size guys in Philly. He’d love throwing the ball to a big target like Larry.

Steve Breaston was thought to be a RS more than WR when he came into the NFL (at least by me – oops). He’s developed into a good WR. He’s a #2 type at best, but does well in that role. Andre Roberts and Early Doucet each have the talent to make plays. Roberts has better RAC skills. Doucet is the bigger WR. While Fitzgerald is the lone elite player, the other guys are all good and fit in well. The Steelers have had a lot of success in recent years with a true corps of WRs. I think Whisenhunt wants that to also be the case in Arizona.

The Cardinals have been lacking at TE, but did draft Rob Housler this spring. He’s 6’5, 250 and a terrific athlete. He’ll probably take time to develop, but could be a real interesting player in the future. It’s been a while since the Cardinals had a guy like this that I can remember. For now, Kolb would be throwing the ball to Ben Patrick, just a marginal player.

So Kolb would have a group of RBs that can run and a good group of receivers to work with. Arizona doesn’t have the same kind of deep speed that the Eagles have, but that’s actually a good thing. Kolb doesn’t have the arm to drive the ball 40-50 yards downfield consistently. Arizona does like the intermediate and deep passing game, but that’s by design. Throwing the ball 15 to 20 yards downfield on a set play is far different from planting your foot in the ground and hoping to hit DeSean Jackson on a go route. I think Kolb would be fine with the Cards style of passing.

The one big question mark for Arizona is the O-line. LG Alan Faneca is retiring. They have a couple of guys slated to be free agents – maybe (depends on CBA). There aren’t a lot of pieces in place. They didn’t draft any OL. The Cards must feel they can keep the players they want and then can go into free agency and pick up some players. They will need to give Kolb a solid set of blockers. He does get happy feet at times. He was surprisingly nimble last year, running 15 times for 65 yards, but Kolb is at his best working in the pocket. The Cardinals must have a solid line in place for Kolb to function well.

So what is Kolb’s value? Real hard to say. He’ll take at least a 1st round pick. I do think the Eagles would like to acquire a veteran player and pick if possible. The Cardinals don’t have a lot of good choices so they need to be careful with negotiations. People talk about Marc Bulger (insane idea) or Matt Hasselbeck, but those guys would be stop-gap moves. You’d turn right around next year and need a QB. The Cards need to be smart and go get Kolb. Pay the price and make the deal. Fitzgerald isn’t getting any younger. Give the man a good QB to throw him the ball. The NFC West is wide open. Kolb can be the difference in winning the division and being 5-11.

The final point to make is that Kolb is a Ken Whisenhunt kind of player. I think Ken wanted nothing to do with Donovan McNabb because he saw Donovan as an established veteran who would have a hard time adjusting to a new team and style of coaching. Kolb is desperate to get on the field. His NFL life clock is ticking. He wants to play. Kevin will play in any system and be happy. He’ll morph to his new environment with no problems. He won’t look at Whisenhunt and say “If you say so, but here’s how we did it in Philly.” Kolb will do everything in his power on and off the field to make the situation work.

The Cards need a QB. Kolb needs a team. There will be talk about some other teams, but this is the move that makes the most sense. Arizona QBs last year threw 10 TDs in 561 attempts. Kolb threw 7 in 189. C’mon Bidwills. C’mon Whisenhunt. Make the deal. Give my man Kolb a chance to show what he can do in the desert.

(* I was forced to sit through Fiddler On The Roof as a kid so I thought it only fair to punish you with the lyrics that have been stuck in my head for 30+ years)