Apr 30, 2010
In case you missed it, as first reported yesterday by our guy Adam Caplan for Scout.com, the Eagles yesterday extended QB Kevin Kolb through the 2011 season.
Let me say for the record right now that we’re very high on Kolb’s fantasy value in 2010. Being from the Philly area, we’re at an advantage in that we’re very knowledgable when it comes to the team. And not only that, Mr. Caplan regularly attends Eagle practices. Our own Joe Dolan worked for the Eagles in their media department in 2008 as an on-air talent and reporter, so he’s all over the Eagles as well. I am, of course, very familiar with the team, since it’s the local team in my area. But we’re not “fans” or “homers” as we’re sometimes accused of. In fact, the Eagles weren’t even “my team” growing up, and they still aren’t. Truth be told, I’ve always kind of disliked them, mainly due to the obnoxious segment of their fan base (it’s not everyone, but I’ve spent time in the old 700 level at Vet, and it was pretty scary/comical up there). But over the last decade, I have come to respect how they do business, and how can you not be impressed? Yeah, they’ve come up short, but they’ve been one of the five most consistent teams the last 10 years.
Caplan’s seen Kolb in practice regularly the last three years, and he’s fully convinced he’s ready for the job. In fact, if you’ve been reading our stuff closely over the last two years, you know we’ve said the shift to Kolb was definitely coming – even if McNabb was still playing at a relatively high level, which he is.
The biggest problem with McNabb is that he’s simply not a good fit for their offense. McNabb stifled the offense. I truly believe they morphed into a big-play offense because throwing the deep ball was the only thing McNabb did really well as a passer. But that approach made their offense a little hit-or-miss. Granted, it meant a lot of big plays to WR DeSean Jackson, but it also prevented them from sustaining offense well.
With Kolb under center, the Eagles will be able to run a true west coast offense. The ball will come out of Kolb’s hands quickly, and with timing, anticipation, and accuracy. Timing, anticipation, and accuracy just happen to be three aspects McNabb struggles with. Sure, Kolb could certainly hit a few rough patches, but you can say that about all but 4-5 starters in the league.
In addition to being very encouraged by the very nature of the offense and head coach Andy Reid as it relates to Kolb’s fantasy value, as well as their solid receivers, I’m very confident in the switch simply because Kolb’s had a ton of time to prepare for this. The Eagles have seen him every day in practice for three full years, and now we’re into a fourth. That’s a long time, and that they traded McNabb to a division rival is yet another sign they are incredibly comfortable with the move.
We’re going to do a full analysis of this, but think about the recent QBs who fit Kolb’s profile of having 2+ years to sit back and learn. The track records are very impressive. For one, these players greatly benefit from sitting back and learning. But also, if a team has seen a guy in practice for that long and then commit to him, that’s a really powerful endorsement to me because they see him every day and they know him from top to bottom. When teams commit to guys like Kolb, it usually works out.
Again, we’re going to do a full analysis on this, but here are a few key names to consider.
Aaron Rodgers – Three full seasons behind Brett Favre, and in his very first season as a starter the guy threw for 4000+ passes and accounted for 32 TDs.
Philip Rivers – Two full seasons behind Drew Brees, and while it was a little rough early, he’s obviously a tremendous player.
Tony Romo – Things got hairy for him early in his career, and he was almost cut a couple of times, but he spent 3 ½ seasons on the roster/practice squad. They didn’t let him go because they saw something in him over the long course of that period of time he wasn’t starting, and they were obviously right.
Matt Schaub – Little different situation in that he was traded, but there was a large sampling of Schaub as a backup (three years), and that was long enough for the Texans to go out and get him. That’s worked out pretty well.
Matt Hasselbeck – He spent two full seasons as a backup in Green Bay, and part of a season as one in Seattle. He’s had a really nice career.
David Garrard – Nothing special for fantasy, but pretty darn solid when you compare him to many #1 draft picks who’ve flopped in the NFL, and there have been many. Garrard sat on the bench for three full seasons before he ever attempted more than 75 passes in a season.
Matt Cassel – He’s nothing special physically, but when the Pats needed him in 2008, he was ready and he did a great job. He did so because he sat on the bench for three full seasons. They kept him for those three seasons for a reason, and they were right.
Two other current players who had at least one year on the bench include Tom Brady and Carson Palmer.
Some players are able to step right in from Day One, like Peyton Manning and Matt Ryan. But for every Ryan there’s probably five JaMarcus Russell’s, so starting right away isn’t for everyone. But my main point here is this: If a QB’s in the league and on a team for two or more years, and then he gets an opportunity – especially when a team is completely willing to give him that opportunity like Rodgers, Schaub, and Romo – then history shows the player will excel.
In fact, ruling out career backup types, I’m hard-pressed to find a good example of a player who sat for two or more seasons only to fail when finally getting his chance. Maybe Alex Smith, but he’s showing some progress now that he’s had time on the bench. I can’t use Brady Quinn as an example, either. In fact, Quinn helps prove my point: the Browns clearly had reservations about committing to Quinn, and rightfully so.
So I love Kolb this year. The only question is: how high do we rank him? I’m currently trying to figure that out working on our projections (which we’ll have out late next week). Assuming Brett Favre is back, and that situation got a little cloudier today with the news that he needs surgery on his ankle, Kolb’s now in the 9-11 range, so I’m clearly comfortable saying he’s a viable fantasy starter.