Eagles Better With Kevin Kolb Than Donovan McNabb?

Written By Bob Cunningham On Thursday, August 12, 2010

Will the Kolb era be more successful than the McNabb era?

That's the talk. Apparently a lot of people are convinced that the Eagles will be a better team, starting in 2010, with Kevin Kolb than they were with Donovan McNabb.

Now, if you have ever read any of my previous work, it doesn't take long to figure out that I always have been, and always will be a McNabb supporter. I think he was thoroughly mistreated in Philly and that he, and the success he brought the team, spoiled the fans.

But, even with my admiration (what some might call a "man-crush") for McNabb aside, the idea that the Birds will be better off in the short-term with Kolb rather than McNabb is ludicrous.

Has anyone been talking playoffs since McNabb was traded? Because it seems to me that if the Eagles were going to be better with Kolb than they were with McNabb, it would definitely have to start by getting to the playoffs -- and that's only step one.

After that, the Kolb-led Eagles would have to win at least one postseason game. And even that only makes them better than the McNabb-led Eagles of 2009 and doesn't trump McNabb's greatest accomplishment in Philadelphia -- the 2004 Super Bowl appearance.

Here is where I would usually go into a "five NFC Championships" defense, but we're talking short term, so I'll leave that part alone for now.

McNabb, during his first season as the full-time starter (2000), took this team to the playoffs with an 11-5 record, threw 21 touchdowns compared to 13 interceptions, and made the Pro Bowl.

That was, by the way, the same team that had gone 5-11 the year prior and had dangerous weapons like Charles Johnson and Torrance Small.

Kolb, on the other hand, will be inheriting an 11-5 team with one of the best young receivers in the game, a Pro Bowl-caliber tight end, an up-and-coming former first-round pick at receiver, and a running back who, in my opinion, could be the best the franchise has seen in a long time.

Let's also not forget that McNabb didn't have three years to sit on the bench and learn behind a future Hall of Famer. He had a few minutes to learn under career backup Doug Pederson.

So even if we're talking about Kolb out-doing McNabb's first season as a starter, there's no way he comes close to that.

If the short-term means out-doing McNabb's first five years, let's say, as a starter, than Kolb has an even steeper mountain to climb since smart money says he's not going to five consecutive Pro Bowls, four NFC Championship games, and a Super Bowl appearance.

And if "short-term" means simply putting the team in a better position to win week in and week out than McNabb did for the past few seasons, I'm still not seeing it.

One could surely make the argument that McNabb was the reason for the loss against the Ravens in 2008. However, I wouldn't put the blame on him since he didn't get the opportunity to redeem himself in the second half.

One could even easily make the argument McNabb was the reason for the now-infamous tie to the Bengals the week prior to that game. However, is there another game that the Eagles lost that McNabb can be pointed to as the primary culprit?

The championship games? Sure, that pick to Ronde Barber was pretty ugly, but what everyone seems to forget is that Antonio Freeman fell over on that play, and Barry Gardener was a spectator earlier in the game as Joe Jurevicious went 73 yards for a touchdown.

No one expected them to beat the Rams in 2001, we covered 2002, the entire offense struggled in 2003 against the Panthers and anyone with two eyes could see at least two of the three interceptions McNabb threw can be put on Todd Pinkston's fragile little shoulders.

Then there's 2008. And anyone says McNabb was the reason for that loss, as many tried the next day, clearly wouldn't know a football from a hockey puck because the last time I checked 375 yards to go along with three touchdowns is an acceptable performance.

He did throw one pick, but DeSean Jackson wound up forcing a fumble that Jon Runyan fell on, so that didn't even hurt them.

What did hurt them in that game, and every other championship game, was the vaunted Jim Johnson defense falling apart. You're not going to find a bigger Jim Johnson fan anywhere in the world than right here, but two turnovers in those six big games (five championship games and the Super Bowl) is totally unacceptable.

Instead of blaming McNabb for Philly not having a Super Bowl, perhaps it's time to start pointing fingers at the defense, the lack of weapons on the offense, and an out-of-balance playcalling method instituted by Andy Reid that put the weight of the team on McNabb's shoulders.

As Cowboys owner Jerry Jones recently pointed out: "McNabb helped create those big swings in our games over the last 10 years. When he played well, it was like throwing the knockout punch. When he didn’t, you were able to throw the knockout punch."

Jones doesn't get it, but he just made a point for McNabb rather than against him.

Everything he said is true, but that was only the case because the entire offense focused on McNabb and any slip-up he had created a ripple effect that sent tsunami-like waves through the rest of the team.

Which brings us to the one and only way the Eagles are better off with Kolb than they were with McNabb: if, and only if, Reid actually runs the ball and implements more timing patterns.

Or, in other words, if he actually runs the west coast offense.

It's the same thing that happened when Jeff Garcia took over in 2006. Everyone thought he was so great -- and don't get me wrong, he played very well -- but it was the change in the offensive philosophy that made him look like a superstar. Rather than being asked to carry the load of the entire offense, he was just another cog in the system.

With Kolb on board, it looks like that's the philosophy Reid will go with. Combine the lightened workload with and incredible group of young playmakers and you have a team with limitless potential. However, if Reid asks Kolb to do what he asked McNabb to do, Kolb could be out of the league in a few seasons.

And even if Kolb is put in the proper situation with more running, short throws, etc., he's still going to lose some games for this team this season by turning the ball over -- something McNabb never did. That will go away with time, but the first season especially will probably see two or three games lost because of a careless turnover or another mistake due to his inexperience.

Were McNabb still in town, the city would be talking "Super Bowl or bust." But with Kolb taking over, few are realistically expecting a season better than 9-7 (all the while saying the team will be better off without No. 5).

Be careful not to break your ankle on that misstep in logic, Mr. Generic McNabb Hater.

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