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Experience Matters: What to Expect From Kevin Kolb



    Experience Matters: What to Expect From Kevin Kolb
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    PHILADELPHIA - SEPTEMBER 27: Kevin Kolb #4 of the Philadelphia Eagles celebrates a touchdown against the Kansas City Chiefs on September 27, 2009 at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

    Seemingly everyone is expecting big things from Kevin Kolb this year.

    Part of that widely-held belief revolves around the idea that Kolb is essentially a veteran. Moving the Chains' Sheil Kapadia summed it up nicely:

    "On the field, [Kolb]'s directing teammates in terms of where to line up and what adjustments to make. In other words, it has not felt like training camp with a first-year starting quarterback. Jeremy Maclin has said that repeatedly, and he's right. It feels like Kolb has been doing this for years."

    Kapadia raises the question of whether our expectations are too high for the quarterback's first season as a starter. It's an idea that I've been grappling with for some time and I'm not sure there's a simple answer. However, I do think that one's expectations about Kolb are related to how one relates his ability and experience to Donovan McNabb's.

    Some people think of Kolb in relation to McNabb's last season. This, obviously, is the wrong way to go. McNabb -- despite his possibly declining skills -- is a QB with a decade of starting experience. He knows all the intricacies of the West Coast offense and the tricks to picking up blitzes, reading coverages. Kolb does not have that experience.

    OK, people will say, he won't be as polished as McNabb is now. But Kolb had three years of sitting and waiting and learning. He's a fourth-year veteran. When McNabb was in his fourth year he (with some help from A.J. Feeley) guided the team to his second NFC championship game. But Kolb isn't that player either. He has a grand sum of two starts so far in his NFL career.

    And yet he also isn't McNabb after two starts. That was in Donovan's first season, when he was still a pup by NFL standards. Kolb's backup experience alone makes him better than that. Plus, Kolb has much better skill players than McNabb had in his early years.

    I think we can comfortably place Kolb in the range of McNabb's first full season as a starter. Donovan entered 2000 just as Kolb took on this off-season, as the Eagles' new franchise quarterback. Kolb has three years of backup experience and two starts, McNabb had only a year in the league but six starts.

    And how did McNabb do that season? Pretty well for a young quarterback: 27 total touchdowns, 13 interceptions, and more than 3300 passing yards on a 58-percent completion rate. The league is more passing-friendly these days but even if Kolb only replicated those numbers, most fans would be pretty happy.

    We won't know if Kolb can do that until he steps on on the field come September. But, looking at McNabb's trajectory, there's no reason to think he can't.