Let Kolb Be Kolb
By Lance Epstein
Ever since the Green Bay Packers decided to trade away future Hall of Fame quarterback Brett Favre and Aaron Rodgers took the leap to stardom, Eagles fans and analyst have compared their quarterback situation of Kevin Kolb and Donovan McNabb to that of the Packers.
There are a ton of similarities between Rodgers and Kolb’s paths in their young careers. Both were drafted even though their teams had excellent quarterbacks, who were still in the prime of their careers.
Each quarterback rode the bench for a couple of seasons where they learned, developed and harnessed their skills until their team's called upon them to be the new face of the franchise.
Additionally, both were young quarterbacks who eventually replaced quarterbacks that brought their franchises back from mediocrity to the upper echelon of the league.
Furthermore, both teams raved for years about what they have seen from their young upstart quarterbacks on the practice field. The Packers and Eagles spoke high of their respective quarterback's leadership skills, accuracy and intelligence displayed on the field. Even former Eagles coach and current Ravens head coach, John Harbaugh spoke highly of Kolb before he took the field in his first ever career start.
"All I know is I saw Kevin Kolb every day in practice for the year I was the secondary coach when he was the guy going against the defense as the scout team quarterback,” Harbaugh said. "When we did red zone, we couldn’t defend him. I mean he’d run the red zone offense for the team we were going to play.
“We had the No. 1-ranked red-zone defense in the league 2 years ago. And we couldn’t stop Kevin Kolb. Throwing to Mike Gasperson every day in practice. He picked us apart...(The coaches) love him. He’s got all the tools. He’s a leader. He’s tough. He plays the game the right way."
Another similarity is the way both players handled the media while waiting for their opportunity to shine. Each player showed extreme patience for three seasons and consistently put their trust in management to help them progress and eventually give them their opportunity.
However, that is where the similarities end and need to end. Unlike Kolb, Rodgers was drafted in the first round (24th overall). At one time, he was battling Alex Smith for the first overall pick in the entire draft (bet the 49ers regret that now).
As for Kolb, he was an afterthought in the 2007 NFL Draft. Some scouts were intrigued by his potential, while others did not even have him being selected until the third round. Moreover, Brady Quinn and JaMarcus Russell were seen to be head-and-shoulders above any quarterback in the entire draft. Since then, neither quarterback has achieved much success, which is a bad omen for the Philadelphia Eagles.
Ultimately, Kolb (6-3, 225) fell to the early second round and Rodgers did not for multiple reasons. First, Kolb came out of a Houston program that ran a spread offense and were famous for draft busts at the quarterback position. The Cougars had two of the biggest busts in NFL history with Andre Ware and David Klingler.
Besides having to change the NFL's perspective on Cougar quarterbacks, Kolb had to adjust to taking snaps under center. In the spread offense, Kolb was mostly out of the shotgun formation.
Compare that to Rodgers, who came out of the University of California, which ran a pro-style of offense. Rodgers was groomed at Cal to make an immediate impact in the NFL. His offense was tailored to make the translation to the NFL easier.
Of course Cal had produce their own draft bust of Kyle Boller, but compared Houston's failures with Ware and Klingler, his career looks solid.
Another big difference between the two quarterbacks is that Rodgers has a big-arm along with his accuracy. In fact, one of the most impressive things at the combine and his Pro Day was his ability to throw the ball deep down the field with tremendous accuracy.
Not saying that Kolb cannot throw a pretty pass down the field and hit DeSean Jackson in stride, but he does not have nearly the arm that Rodgers does. Kolb and the Eagles will have to rely on precision, dink-and-dunk passing; a typical west coast offense.
Lastly, Rodgers is proven commodity. In his first two full seasons as the Packers starting quarterback he has thrown for 8,472 yards, 58-touchdown passes and has a quarterback rating of 98.5. Unlike Kolb, Rodgers has already proven himself to be an elite-quarterback in the league. Furthermore, he plays in a city where the media and fan base is much less harsh on its quarterbacks.
For Kolb, he has shown flashes of being great but at the same time shown the propensity to make fatal errors. In his first two career starts, Kolb had back-to-back 300-yard games. He became the first player in NFL history to accomplish that feat. In addition, one of the games came against the Super Bowl Saints.
At the same time, Kolb made the same huge mistakes that the fans and front office have seen before. Against the Saints, he threw a costly interception with the game in the balance after the Saints took a 24-13 lead. His interception set the Saints up in great field position and ultimately put the game away. Eventually, he finished the game with three interceptions and one returned for a touchdown by safety Darren Sharper.
Unfortunately, this was not the first time that Kolb has shown the tendency to be turnover prone. Against the Ravens and Cleveland Browns in 2008, he threw interceptions that were returned to the house. In addition, before Kolb’s two starts this season, many of the fans were anointing him as another second round bust for Philadelphia.
While fans hope and demand that Kolb follows the footsteps of Rodgers and analysts continuously link the two young quarterbacks together, but it needs to stop. The expectation levels are becoming overbearing for the young quarterback and perhaps halt any potential star-power that Kolb might be able to achieve in his career.
Kolb already has the tall task of replacing the greatest quarterback to ever wear an Eagles uniform, so there is no need to put more press on the young 26-year-old quarterback’s shoulders.
Fans, pundits and even the front office should allow Kolb to be Kolb because he could perhaps be better than Rodgers. That is only if they let the laid-back Texan develop into his own man.