Monday, September 13, 2010

Disaster at the Linc

False Advertising - Eagles QB Kevin Kolb
By John McMullen

Philadelphia, PA (The Phanatic Magazine) - Forget the loss, that was almost inconsequential next to the body count suffered during a disastrous second quarter in the Eagles season opening loss to the Green Bay Packers on Sunday.

The Birds lost starting fullback Leonard Weaver for the year to an ACL tear early in the frame and later center Jamaal Jackson, who made a miraculous recovery from a torn ACL, suffered a torn triceps that will sideline him for all of 2010. 

Meanwhile, quarterback Kevin Kolb and middle linebacker Stewart Bradley both suffered concussions before halftime. Both returned for a bit but were ruled out during intermission.

Perhaps the worst news, however, was just how bad Kolb looked before being knocked loopy by Clay Matthews. He was just  5-for-10 for 24 yards, an embarrassing 2.4 yards per pass, with a dismal 56.2 passer rating. But the numbers were only part of the story. The box score doesn't show things like the two near interceptions, the deer in the headlights look and the total disdain on the face of DeSean Jackson, who couldn't hide his disgust after duck after duck was thrown his way.

Meanwhile, realistic concerns on Kolb's durability were exposed. The first time I saw the Texan, I remarked to a colleague that this guy didn't have the frame to hold up over a 16-game schedule. Even I thought he would last half the season or so but I've never met Matthews. He and Brian Cushing were teammates at USC -- do the math.

To make matters even worse for Kolb, Mike Vick came on and was spectacular in relief, helping the Eagles outplay a supposed Super Bowl contender in the second half. In fact, if Andy Reid actually kept a blocking tight end on his roster, perhaps Brent Celek wouldn't have gotten blown up by Matthews on the key 4th-and-1 play and perhaps Vick would have led the team to the tying score.

In the end, Vick completed 16 of 24 passes for 175 yards, a touchdown, and a 101.9 passer rating. He also ran 11 times for 103 yards, making him the third quarterback in NFL history to rush for more than 4,000 yards, along with Randall Cunningham and Steve Young.

"I still feel like I can play at a high level," Vick said. "I feel like if I had been out there for four quarters, maybe we would have had a chance to win the game."

Talk about the understatement of the year.

I've been harsh on Vick from the day the Birds signed him. In fact, count me in among the group that detests the fact the Eagles inked a guy with no moral compass but I'm also quite realistic. Vick was quite a football player before his stint in Leavenworth. He might not have done it in conventional ways but Vick won a lot of games and made three Pro Bowls. Even a watered down Vick is a better football player than Kolb and it's not really close. It never was close and it never will be close.

Kolb apologists point to Reid's resume and football acumen, both salient points. But let's not pretend coaches -- even good ones -- don't make personnel mistakes.

I have never understood how these Eagles do business. Instead of tempering enthusiasm for untested entities, they are now always trying to put their stamp of approval on players before the athletes themselves pass the final exam.

Since Reid jumps on his sword routinely in post-game press conferences, you have to think that mentality is coming directly from Joe Banner and Howie Roseman and it's a curious way to do business. Players are well aware that the eye-in-the-sky doesn't lie. Well, the 40-inch HD Sony in the living rooms of many Eagles fans exposes quite a bit also.

After all the Kool-Aid they have been served,  fans are likely shocked this morning to find out a player like Celek might be a heck of a pass receiver but he couldn't block my Aunt Fannie, never mind  a one-man wrecking crew like Matthews. They found out that Shady McCoy isn't an Adrian Peterson-type that can carry the load 25 times a game. And they unfortunately found out that Kolb looks like a "D" student with finals approaching, a player that is a heck of a lot closer to Bobby Hoying or Koy Detmer than Donovan McNabb.

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