Eagles Wake-Up Call: The Two Kolb What-Ifs
Let’s take a trip down memory lane today, shall we?
Before Sunday, the last time the Eagles faced the Ravens was on Nov. 23, 2008.
The game is less remembered for its result – a 36-7 Baltimore victory – than what happened when Andy Reid’s offense took the field in the second half.
Donovan McNabb was in his 10th season with the Eagles, ninth as a full-time starter. From the moment he took over as a rookie until that day at M&T Bank Stadium, he had never been pulled because of performance. But with the Eagles trailing 10-7 at halftime and McNabb struggling (8-for-18 for 59 yards and a pair of interceptions), Reid decided to go with Kevin Kolb.
The second-year quarterback went 10-for-23 for 73 yards and a pair of interceptions. In the fourth quarter, at one point, it looked like he was getting into a rhythm. Kolb completed five straight passes for 53 yards, driving the Eagles to the Ravens’ 1. A touchdown would have made it a one-possession game with just under eight minutes left. But Kolb’s pass was picked off in the end zone by Ed Reed, who returned it 108 yards for the touchdown.
You know the rest of the story. McNabb returned the following week. The Eagles won four of their next five, snuck into the playoffs and advanced to the NFC Championship game before falling to the Cardinals. Their win in the divisional round against the Giants marks the franchise’s last playoff victory.
But what if Kolb lit the Ravens up in the second half? What if he led the Eagles to a comeback victory? Reid would have had to hand him the keys, right? Would the team have still made the playoffs? Would McNabb have ever played a snap with the Eagles again?
We’ll never know. McNabb returned the following season, and the team went 11-5, before suffering a first-round loss in the playoffs to the Cowboys. He was dealt to the Redskins in the offseason.
The second what-if scenario takes us to the opener in 2010: What if Kolb didn’t suffer a concussion against the Packers? Would he still be this team’s quarterback? He had been groomed all offseason to be the starter after patiently waiting for three seasons. Maybe it was only a matter of time until Michael Vick took over, given how Kolb’s fallen short of expectations in Arizona. Vick replaced him in that game and never relinquished the starting job.
We all know the rest.
The roles are reversed this year for Kolb. John Skelton began the season as the starter, but got injured in Week 1. Kolb replaced him, and the Cardinals are 2-0. The numbers aren’t eye-popping: 21-for-35 for 206 yards and two touchdowns. But Kolb hasn’t turned it over, and Arizona’s relied on its defense in victories over the Seahawks and Patriots.
Now, he’ll get a chance to hand the team that drafted him back in 2007 its first loss of the season.
WHAT YOU MISSED
A source confirms to T-Mac that the Eagles will sign veteran center Steve Vallos today.
In my offensive line game review, I looked at how Demetress Bell and Dallas Reynolds performed in backup duty Sunday.
Reynolds will take over Jason Kelce’s pre-snap duties, Tim reports.
Kelce, meanwhile, could return at some point this season, head athletic trainer Rick Burkholder explained Monday. It all depends on whether he has ACL surgery or not.
Ravens players Joe Flacco and Ray Lewis unloaded on the replacement officials.
A look at the Eagles’ snap counts. It’s fair to say DeMeco Ryans and Mychal Kendricks are three-down linebackers.
And finally, how film study helped Kendricks seal the Birds’ victory.
WHAT THEY’RE SAYING
Big injury news out of D.C. The Redskins have lost outside linebacker Brian Orakpo and defensive end Adam Carriker for the season. Orakpo had 28.5 sacks the previous three seasons.
“Obviously he’s a guy that can do it all,” Mike Shanahan told reporters. “He can cover. He can rush. He can play the run. He’s a very physical, very smart, team player. He’s all the things you look [for] in a Pro Bowl player. And obviously we’ll miss him.”
In Peter King’s Monday Morning Quarterback column, Neil Hornsby of Pro Football Focus offered this assessment of Vick:
Vick continues to be a man who has no regard for his body and he did whatever it took to win; hanging in until the last second to make throws, or diving head-first for first downs, for example. As much as we say the Eagles have to change him, it’s obvious Andy Reid and Marty Mornhinweg aren’t going to be able to. But his game-winning drive, 80 yards in 10 plays, was a thing of brilliance. He didn’t make a bad throw and had to convert only two third downs.
King has the Eagles sixth in his Fine Fifteen.
No practice for the Eagles today, but we’ll have plenty of content, including a series of game reviews.
Follow Sheil Kapadia on Twitter and e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.