"So what? One of those games was against the Chiefs' terrible defense, and in the other game, he only racked up a lot of yardage because the Saints were playing a prevent defense. He's a turnover machine."
Truth is, a lot of people making the above arguments didn't even see both games that Kevin Kolb started, and are basing their entire judgment of Kolb on a couple box scores. Others that have seen him play have blurry memories, since... well... we haven't seen him play in over 7 months.
So let's just cut through all the BS, and simply watch all 85 passes he threw in his first 2 starts. I compiled every pass Kolb threw in his 2 starts, and separated them by drives. We'll do the Saints game first, and I'll get to the Chiefs game a little later this week. Let's get right to it after the jump...
September 20, 2009 - Eagles vs. Saints - A drive-by-drive look at Kevin Kolb's first start...
- 1st and 10 - Kolb's first pass as a starter - He had to have a ton of nerves, and Andy gave him an easy playcall - Watch as 3 Eagles receivers run 5-yard button-hooks. His first look is Celek, who was covered, and Kolb calmly fired a strike to Maclin. Easy pass, but well done.
- 1st and 10 - The Eagles put Kolb in another comfortable position by running a play that Kolb assuredly ran over and over again in camp. This was a play that the Eagles ran all season, which time and time again led to big plays against defenses running a cover 2. Watch at the snap as TE Alex Smith runs up the left seam directly at SS Roman Harper. DeSean Jackson, meanwhile, runs all the way across the field from the right slot. As Harper bites up on Smith, Jackson has open field ahead of him behind Harper. Kolb throws a gorgeous ball and hits the wide open Jackson in stride, who jogs into the endzone for an easy TD. Had Harper not bit up on Smith, I'm not so sure this isn't a big play anyway. Great pass, perfect timing on the throw. Obviously, a great start to the game for Kolb.
- 2nd and 11 - Throws a quick out to Kevin Curtis - Well covered, but Curtis should have made the catch, which would have led to a more manageable 3rd and 6, instead of 3rd and 11.
- 3rd and 11 - Nothing there (presumably), felt pressure, got out of the pocket and threw it away on a low-percentage 3rd and 11. Punt.
- 2nd and 4 - Kolb is lined up as a WR, Vick in the shutgun. Vick hands to Westbrook, who laterals to Kolb, who is looking to pass. The Saints aren't fooled even a little bit, as Kolb simply runs away from 3 Saints bearing down on him and throws it away. Good decision.
- 3rd and 4 - Kolb has some time in the pocket, and throws a Donovan-esque rocket at a player 10 yards away from him. Punt.
2nd and 6 - Play action, rollout right - Kolb takes the checkdown (Celek) who barrels forward for the 1st down. Safe play, extends the drive.
1st and 10 - Kolb sells the pitch to McCoy nicely, and hits Westbrook on a little shovel pass that goes for 8 on 1st down. This is more impressive than it looks. The shovel pass is easy, but the execution of the play is difficult.
1st and 10 - Great play by Kolb here. Jason Peters picks up the blitzing LB on the outside, expecting Nick Cole to block RDE Will Smith. Cole instead blocks down on the DT, leaving Smith with a free run at Kolb. Kolb quickly locates McCoy and dumps it off to him while getting hit, leading to a nice 6 yard gain on first down on what should have been a sack... or worse. A couple non-Kolb things to note on this play - The miscommunication between Peters and and Cole is what happens when you're new to a team, and you're playing next to the backup guard, with whom you have basically no continuity. A lot of that should be fixed this year. Also of note - I look at LeSean McCoy's fumbles in 2009, and with the way he carries the ball, I marvel that he only had 2 fumbles. Well, it should have been 3 - that was most certainly a fumble. He has to fix that this year. He's way too careless with the football.
2nd and 9 - Double play action, with a reverse screen to Westy - Easy pass for Kolb, defensed well, minimal gain.
3rd and 7 - Kolb fires a strike to Celek in stride, who bulls his way for another first down. After watching this film for the past 4 hours by the way, Kolb-to-Celek will be a common theme throughout this film study - Expect Celek to have a monster year - rate him highly on your fantasy draft boards. Anyway, nice first down on 3rd and 7 to extend the drive.
2nd and 10 - Another strike by Kolb, taking what the defense is giving him, this time to Maclin for about 6 and a much more manageable 3rd and 4.
3rd and 4 - Another great play by Kolb. The Saints test the Eagles left side again with a blitz, since the last one on 3rd down should have gotten Kolb. This time, Peters picks up the inside rusher (the correct move), but with Westbrook going out into a pattern, Kolb has an empty backfield and a free rusher coming at him. He stands in there and fires a strike to Avant for another first down.
The Eagles then call timeout so that I can show the pass to Avant again - Haha, oops. Editing fail by me there. Sorry.
1st and goal fro the 9 - The Saints are getting free rushers pretty much at will now, as another defenders comes through the line unblocked and sacks Kolb.
2nd and goal from the 16 - Another strike to Celek, who carries 8 guys for an extra 5 yards.
3rd and goal - Kolb's first bad pass, and the first incompletion (out of 9 passes) on this drive. There are no touch passes inside the 10, unless you're throwing the fade or something to the back of the endzone that only your guy can catch. Kolb tries the loft a pass up over Anthony Hargrove, who tries to set it like a volleyball and catch it on the way down. Athletic play there by Hargrove, and that's what the NFL is full of... athletes. That's not a pass you can complete in the NFL... at least to player on your team, that is. He'll learn that. Still, great long drive. The Eagles settle for 3.
The Eagles are pinned inside their own 5, and are content to run 3 times and waste the Saints' 3 timeouts before the end of the half. The Eagles punt, and the Saints drive down on the Eagles in about 4 seconds to score. No passes by Kolb on this drive.
1st and 10, own 21, 0:37 seconds - After a lightning fast Saints score, the Eagles are right back on the field for some hurry-up offense. Fun! On the first play, Kolb hits Avant up the right seam on a nice ball for 26 yards. Eagles use their last timeout. Wait, the Eagles only have one timeout left for their hurry-up offense? Shocker.
1st and 10, own 47, 0:30 seconds - Nice job by Kolb extending the play by avoiding pressure and getting out of the pocket, but a bad pass to an open Curtis. Incomplete.
2nd and 10, own 47, 0:24 seconds - Kolb hits Jackson on a quick pass to the sideline, Jackson picks up the first down and jumps out of bounds. Only 4 seconds run off the clock. Well done.
1st and 10, Saints 42, 0:20 seconds - Kolb tries the other side this time and hits Curtis for a other first down and stopped clock. Only 5 seconds run off the clock this time, and we're now within range of a difficult FG for Akers. Well done again.
1st and 10, Saints 32, 0:15 seconds - Kolb hits Curtis again, this time for 18 yards, and he gets out of bounds stopping the clock. Listen to Aikman's commentary on this one regarding Kolb's recognition of Tracy Porter jumping the slot receiver's route. Only 6 seconds run of the clock, and we're now in easy range for Akers.
1st and 10, Saints 14, 0:09 seconds - Nothing dumb here. If you see something open let 'er rip, but don't turn it over and don't get sacked. Kolb throws it away, and takes 3 after a really impressive 2 minute offense.
INTERMISSION - OK, guys... Go take a whiz, wash your hands, and grab a snack.
Now that we're all back... Before we get back to the tape, let's get something straight really quickly.
For for those of you that have argued that most of Kolb's yardage came against the Saints' prevent defense in the second half, here are his first half numbers...
14/22, 196 yards, 1 TD, 0 INT. Halftime score - 17-13, Saints. I guess we can put that nonsense to bed.
OK, back to the tape...
On the opening kickoff, Ellis Hobbs fumbled, and the Saints quickly scored to go up 24-13, and then this happened...
2nd and 6 - Interception. Aikman's analysis is dead on - Kolb has to account for Shanle there. Bad pass, his second mistake of the game.
1st and 10 - Pass complete to Jackson, a little behind him. Tough to tell if Kolb was purposely throwing to a spot where he wouldn't be leading Jackson into a big hit, or if he just missed his target, but either way it's probably a bad decision to throw to Jackson there, who was surrounded by 3 Saints defenders. Gain of 4 on 1st down is fine, but that's a risky throw with minimal upside.
2nd and 6 - Shot downfield incomplete. Nice recognition of one-on-one coverage, but Curtis was blanketed. When you're down by 18, you take any on-on-one shot downfield you can get.
3rd and 6 - Bad pass. They had the matchup - Pre-concussion Westbrook on Vilma. That's a huge win for the coaching staff getting that matchup, but Kolb just missed him... badly. Note - The boo birds were understandably out after this pass, but they weren't for Kolb. Less than 4 and a half minutes into the 3rd quarter, the Eagles fumbled the opening kick to start the half, gave up a TD, threw a pick, gave up a TD, and went 3 and out. That's an "entire team boo," not a "Kolb boo." Just wanted to clarify that since the tone of the game can't really be captured by just watching the Eagles pass plays. Moving on...
1st and 10 - Very strange play here, but it worked, and it's kind of an awkward pass that Kolb put on the money. Note sure how this isn't offensive pass interference on Curtis, but whatever.
2nd and 8 - Presumably nothing there... Throwaway.
3rd and 8 - Laser to Avant. Really nice pass here that Kolb fit into a tight window. If you think Kolb doesn't have an NFL arm, please refer to this pass. Strong throw, very impressive accuracy here. If he misses in any direction, it's probably a pick. Very nicely done.
4th and goal - Rollout right - Touchdown to Avant. Not a spectacular pass, although not a bad one either - It took a nice catch by Avant for this not to be a turnover on downs.
Oops, editing fail #2 by JimmyK. Ignore the first 2 plays.
Anyway, a couple incomplete passes (one under heavy rush) on 2nd/3rd and 9. Moving along...
1st and 10 - Checkdown to Avant - gain of 3. The Saints will give this away all day with a 21 point lead in the 4th quarter. Presumably nothing open downfield - Kolb takes what he can get, which isn't much.
2nd and 7 - Checkdown to Westy this time - gain of 5. Again, taking what he can get with presumably nothing open downfield.
3rd and 2 - This doesn't look like much my friends, but this is an absolutely gorgeous ball. Kolb, fits it in perfectly behind the defender's back hip in between a triangle of 3 Saint defenders, where Celek can make an adjustment on the ball while the linebacker covering him man to man has his back turned to the QB. And make no mistake, the Saints are not content to trade off this kind of yardage for time off the clock. Great, difficult pass.
1st and 10 - Another nice pickup downfield finding Curtis in the seam. And again, this is not a situation where the Saints would trade this kind of yardage for time off the clock. Nice pass again.
1st and 10 - Ouch. Peters is beaten pretty badly here, plain and simple, and Kolb takes a big hit. However, I like that Kolb got right back up and fought on.
2nd and 17 - They get a nice chunk back, getting 14 when Kolb hits an open Celek.
1st and goal - Nothing there - Throwaway. By the way, can I just say really quickly that I HATE... that's H-A-T-E when the Eagles run rollouts to the short side of the field with just one or two receivers in the pattern? That's what you do when you have guys with size and you want to isolate them on smaller defenders. It's not what you do when you have speed guys with no size.
2nd and goal - With 8 guys in coverage inside the 10, the Saints don't buy the Eagles' weak attempt at play action, and with nothing open (presumably), Kolb checks down again to McCoy.
3rd and goal - Heavy rush - Throwaway.
4th and goal - Not even sure what that was. It should have been offsides on the defense. At the very least it could have been a false start on the offensive, which would have been a 5 yard penalty and a dead ball, replaying 4th down. But they called illegal formation, which the Saints declined, as the Eagles turned the ball over on downs. That's just a broken play.
Drive #12 - And we're officially in garbage time at this point
1st and 10 - Checkdown to McCoy.
2nd and 2 - Kolb messes up a Saint's stats by getting rid of the ball as he's being sacked. Nice awareness that he knew that's where McCoy would be, I suppose.
1st and 10 - A little shovel to McCoy. Tick tick tick.
1st and 10 - Nice pass here to Avant, and again, I like that Kolb isn't pouting... competing until the end.
1st and 10 - Another little checkdown to Celek.
3rd and 4 - And here it is - The pick that makes the highlight film, and people watching SportsCenter say "Oh... crappy pass... He sucks." Of course, in a situation in which the Saints D Linemen have their ears pinned back and are coming at him full bore for an entire half, knowing full well that the Eagles are going to pass on every down, a mistake like this is inevitable. Bad read? Sure. But when you throw 51 passes and the defense knows you have to pass, this is very forgivable. And note one other thing here - Kevin Kolb very nearly ran down Darren Sharper. I think he has more athleticism than people give him credit for.
Drive #13 - Pure ridiculousness... Is ridiculousness a word? Well it is now.
1st and 10 - Checkdown to Celek, who proceeds to carry 3 guys for an extra 10 yards.
1st and 10 - Incomplete to avoid a sack.
2nd and 10 - Checkdown to Celek... again. End of game.
Wait... WHAT?!?!?!? A timeout?!? Uh, Andy? There are 7 seconds left, and uh, the Saints defensive linemen will be all too thrilled to get another shot at padding their stats with another sack, and um... We kinda already have a ton of injuries at this point already in this early part of the season? I don't think we're going to score 26 points in 7 seconds, so maybe we should just let those 7 seconds run off the clock?
1st and 10 - The Saints blitz (and I can't blame them), the Eagles throw a pointless Hail Mary, Kolb gets hit hard, and it gets intercepted. Is that what you had in mind, Andy?
On the one hand, the 391 yards are slightly misleading, as are the 3 interceptions. Let's just ignore the stats on this one. This was a really good debut by a guy making his first start in the NFL, against the Super Bowl champs, no less. His good passes/decisions far outweighed the bad passes/decisions, and I am more encouraged with what we can expect from Kolb after having revisited his game film. Could we really have expected a better performance?