Monday, November 24, 2008

Ask Mr. B!

A re-occurring feature of this blog is an opportunity to ask the wise Mr. B (the sage plush toy pictured just right) any question concerning the future. Today's question: who would you start at quarterback Thursday night?

Kevin Kolb.

Normally in pro football, you don’t play the untested kid(s) until the season is officially over. Your team hangs its seventh loss up there, you can forego your commitment to your veterans to put the immediate best chance to win out there- and start playing with an eye to the future. So, nine times out of ten, this rabbit is playing McNabb.

Ugh. But Donovan just looks so bad. I was wondering how many turnovers, how many awful throws, I’d have to see before pulling the plug? If the goal is to still keep the best team out there, I am not sure playing McNabb achieves that goal.

People forget: McNabb was shoehorned into an offense that really isn’t his style: the high completion, game manager. He’s never been that “complete 65% of your balls, routinely complete 3rd and two through the air” kind of character. You could survive the skill mis-match because he did protect the ball- an ipso de facto accidental game manager- and that missing late 10-15% on his completion percentage was more than made up for by his ability to generate big plays downfield with minimal turnovers.

Well, McNabb turns it over like crazy now and can’t generate anything with his athleticism. So the old fall back, re-casting yourself as the veteran quarterback who makes a lot of safe, routine throws, is not an option for a guy who even on his best days sprayed the ball around.

Worse, he’s running a finesse offense without a single good wide receiver. Add a low percentage passer to a bunch of guys who can’t get open, plus a team who either can’t/won’t run the ball, and you have a bad offense.

Now, Kolb in college was that sort of high percentage passer. That is his pedigree- Tulane fans know this guy absolutely was a rhythm passer of the first order in college. So maybe, just maybe, he can manage the offense better right now.

Next, while the Eagles rave about the guy, Kevin simply hasn’t been all that good in live action. It is his second year- it is high time the Eagles find out what this guy’s ceiling is. If it is gonna take him 32 starts to figure this League out, let’s start moving that clock right now. So far, Kolb frankly just hasn’t shown that much. In fact, he’s been so lackluster the franchise can’t point to him right now with any confidence and say this guy can step in, step up and play.

And that worries me. Kevin has been around for two years now- and has shown zero signs of pushing the incumbent. One reason I want to see him play is there is reason to suspect he can’t- he’s got a little not good enough, a Winston Justice in him- which would change the entire tenor of this rebuilding project going forward.

And that is ultimately why I want to see him. Not to save the season. Frankly, the defense took one look at the quarterback change and promptly commenced their off-season. I doubt that Kolb will cause that unit to rally. But I’m sort of sold on the defense. They are .500 because good defense plus bad offense equals even. But I’m not sold on Kevin Kolb. He is no official bust, but I have zero clue.

But it is time to find out. Another 150 throws will not change anyone’s mind about McNabb (giant question mark trending toward done in Philadelphia). But 150 throws will tell us a lot about Kolb. And since he’s the biggest question mark on the roster going forward, that answer to me is obvious: play him.

Now, let's enjoy this:

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