Kolb was throwing off of his back foot all night long.
The final statline for Kevin Kolb (11-17, 126 yards) will make it appear as though he played well in one half of work against the Cincinnati Bengals in the Eagles' second preseason game. However, those numbers should surprise anyone who actually watched the game.
Of those 17 pass attempts, there might have been four or five where Kolb set his feet, went through his progressions, and made the right throw. For the other 12 or so, Kolb looked panicky, unsure, and erratic.
There were a few times when he had to move outside of the pocket because the Bengals brought the blitz from the outside or his line was just over-matched, but Kolb was scrambling and moving all around even when he had plenty of time.
The first example came early with the Eagles backed up against their own goal-line. It was third and long and the Bengals brought four pass-rushers, which the offensive line picked up fairly well.
Winston Justice allowed his man to get on his outside shoulder a bit quick, but he was in control of him the entire time and was riding him right around Kolb. All Kolb had to do was take one step up into the pocket, keep his eyes forward, and he would have seen Jason Avant running open on a crossing pattern.
Instead, Kolb darted forward, pressed the line of scrimmage, and hit his check-down read, LeSean McCoy, who wound up getting pushed out of bounds a yard short of the sticks. The Eagles were then forced to punt, giving the Bengals good field position.
Later, during a disastrous series in the Bengals' red zone, Kolb shuffled to his right, despite the lack of pressure, and fired the ball across his body to a receiver in the endzone. The pass was knocked down and the Eagles would wind up having to kick a field goal a few plays later.
But had Kolb not panicked and began rolling to his right, he would have been able to rifle the ball to his receiver on the goal-line for the touchdown.
All night long he was moving when he didn't have to, and even the times when he would plant his back foot and get the ball out of his hand, he was forcing it to guys double and even triple covered. How he managed to escape throwing an interception is beyond me.
So what's the problem? Why does Kolb feel as though he's got to move around and get out of the pocket all the time?
The simple answer is that he doesn't trust the interior of his line. To a point, I understand that because of the guys he's got up there. Stacy Andrews is in his first season as the starter, Mike McGlynn is technically the third-string center, and Max Jean-Gilles is the backup left guard.
But even when they block well and give him time he's moving around, so that can't be the entirety of the issue.
I think what we're seeing out of Kolb is a guy who doesn't quite know how to go through his progressions as quickly as he should. He's most likely self-aware and realizes the problem, so he's trying to make his reads pre-snap.
This would explain why he's forcing the ball to guys who aren't even close to open. He's already made up his mind as to where he's going, so he's going to just see what he can do with it.
But when the guy he's decided he's throwing to is no longer an option in his mind, he seems to panic almost immediately and that's when he starts moving around. Rather than standing tall in the pocket and going through his progressions, he feels more comfortable improvising.
Of course, the playcalling doesn't exactly help the situation, but he still must play within the confines of the offense and make a play with what is given to him and stop forcing throws.
If he continues that during the regular season, we're going to see a guy who not only throws a lot of interceptions, but a guy who is putting the ball on the ground every time he gets hit.
The bright side to all of this is that this is something that will be learned through repetition during the season. This is why they play preseason games. Every snap is a learning opportunity for Kolb and as long as he's studying his mistakes and making an attempt to fix them, they don't have to mean disaster for the entire team.
Perhaps getting Todd Herremans and Jamaal Jackson back will solve the problem for the most part, but he's got to understand that his strength comes from being able to deliver an accurate ball from inside the pocket and keep the chains moving.
He's not the big-play guy that Donovan McNabb was and if that's how he envisions himself he's going to have a very difficult transition.