Inside the Eagles: Cardinals' Kevin Kolb gets the better of the Eagles

Posted: September 24, 2012

GLENDALE, Ariz. - They will forever be intertwined, Kevin Kolb and Michael Vick.

They are disparate quarterbacks in many ways and have had dissimilar careers, but Kolb and Vick are the only ones that know what it was like to live through the 2010 season when Andy Reid benched one for the other.

Kolb handled his demotion with class. So it was no surprise that he didn't gloat after he led the 3-0 Cardinals past an Eagles team that has a serious problem at the position he plays.

And when the topic of Vick came up, Kolb defended his friend. He's watched the games. He's seen the turnovers - eight of them so far. Even from the opposite sideline he felt the constant barrage that Vick took, often self-afflicted.

"He's a warrior," Kolb said. "He gets banged up out there. I couldn't help but grimace for him a couple of times. But that's just his style of play. He knows that. We know that. That's part of it."

And Andy Reid knows it. There aren't many in Philadelphia that didn't agree with the Eagles coach's decision to go with Vick over Kolb two seasons ago. They probably still support the choice even after Kolb outplayed Vick on Sunday.

But when Reid gave Vick the nod, he decided that he was going to live with a quarterback that often relies on his physical skills, rather than one that had physical limitations but may have been better-suited to run his offense.

On Sunday, Kolb displayed the skill-set that first compelled Reid to trade away Donovan McNabb and set a new course with his 2007 second-round draft pick.

He was accurate. He got the ball out quick. He made the proper decisions. He managed the game, even though many use that term derisively when evaluating quarterbacks. Kolb completed 17 of 24 passes for 222 yards, two touchdowns, and no interceptions.

It warranted at least brief speculation of how Kolb would have done had he played for the other team.

"They can speculate all they want, too," Kolb said of Eagles fans. "Decisions are made. I never look back in the past. I think all things happen for a reason. Think about the year Mike had whenever I got hurt - a MVP-type season."

Had Kolb dropped back behind the Eagles' battered offensive line, it might have been a different story as well. Some of his struggles since the Eagles traded him to Arizona last July have been attributed to the Cardinals' leaky offensive line.

Kolb had the reputation of a quarterback that could easily be rattled. Oakland defensive tackle Tommy Kelly said that Kolb was "skittish" and "scared" after a preseason game last month.

In the lead-up to the game, the Eagles defense never came out and said that Kolb could be easily flustered, but when defensive end Brandon Graham said, "Put the pressure on him, he's a different guy," it wasn't difficult to read between the lines.

"I never heard it," Kolb said.

Kolb was sacked three times and was hit on several other occasions. But he never lost his poise. With a stout defense and balanced play-calling - 31 passes, 30 runs - Kolb wasn't required to win the game on his own.

"I thought Kevin played great today," Vick said. "I think he came out and played like the way he was supposed to, and he did a great job leading his football team and of putting points on the board. . . . We have to find a way to do the same thing."

Could Reid and offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg have learned something from the Cardinals game plan? With an improved defense and LeSean McCoy there is no need for Vick to drop back more than twice as often as he hands off the ball.

And yet, Vick dropped back to throw 46 times while McCoy and Bryce Brown ran only 17 times. In the first half, the pass-run ratio was a negligent 25-5. Vick isn't getting any help from his coaches.

But there is still plenty of time to formulate a system that builds Vick back up.

"It hasn't come out clean yet, but you're still 2-1, and I think a lot of times when you go through things like that you earn respect," Kolb said. "Even though things haven't gone perfect here for me, I learned that I earned a lot of respect through those hard times. I know Mike's doing the same thing right now in his locker room."

Kolb, with his pregnant wife, Whitney, on one arm and one of his daughters on the other, walked out of University of Phoenix Stadium a hero. But he knows there are obstacles ahead. There wasn't time much to savor the biggest victory of his career.

"It'll settle in later. Seriously, I'm not lying," Kolb said. "I was a little more nervous before the game, I was a little more excited. . . . Maybe later on down the road it will mean more to me."


Contact Jeff McLane at 215-854-4745 or jmclane@phillynews.com, or follow on Twitter @Jeff_McLane.

 

comments powered by Disqus
|
|
|
|
|