Monday, September 28, 2009

Kolb Shows What Reid Sees in Eagles Easy Win

Kansas City Chiefs v Philadelphia Eagles

The Eagles raced to an early lead yesterday and maintained clear control of the game throughout the day, soundly defeating the Kansas City Chiefs 34-14. The score makes the game seem much closer than it really was, as the Chiefs were aided by Jeff Garcia's fumbled snap in mop up duty. The Eagles dominated on both sides of the ball and Kevin Kolb demonstrated what Andy Reid has liked about him.

Kolb threw early and often, carving up the Chiefs defense for 327 yards and 2 long touchdowns. He also eliminated the deadly turnovers which have plagued him in other performances. Overall, Kolb looked poised, confident and completed more than 70% of his passes. He also displayed the requisite NFL arm strength and some nice touch.

All of this needs to be tempered a bit by the fact that Kolb was virtually under no pressure all day long thanks to his offensive line and the Chiefs lack of pass rush. He is also coming off previous appearances where he turned the ball over when opponents limited his time and showed more complexity. Of course, all aspiring young quarterbacks go through the "school of hard knocks" as they develop, especially when jumping into the fire against a top flight defense such as the Ravens.

The Eagles defense returned to form, looking a lot more like the week 1 version than last week's edition. The Chiefs seemed resigned to the fact that they would not have the time to get the ball down the field, so running and short passing would be the only real way to move the ball without risking the health of Matt Cassel or turnovers. It seemed obvious all day that they were never going to mount a serious threat to win the game. Their only touchdown came late in the game after Garcia fumbled his first snap deep in his own territory.

With Brian Westbrook de-activated due to an ankle sprain, rookie LeSean McCoy filled in nicely, racking up 84 yards and his first NFL touchdown. Additionally, DeSean Jackson and Brent Celek each broke the 100-yard mark receiving and scored on long passes. These three, along with Kolb, provided a window into the future and a great deal of optimism about their ability to make big contributions as needed. Of course, Kolb and McCoy are clearly back-ups at this point, but it is comforting to know that they will be able to step in and perform well if needed.

The other major story line in the game was Michael Vick's return to the NFL. He participated in 11 plays, mostly designed to run, with very little productivity- unless the team opts for a nostalgic "2.7 yards and cloud of dust" offense. The Chiefs appeared to have little trouble defending the Vick Wildcat, and the best that can be said for it was that Kolb and the Eagles found a way to overcome it. The Eagles either need to get much better at designing or executing on it, or greatly curtail it, as they will not be able to waste plays as they face better teams.

Yesterday's win runs the Eagles record to 2-1 and puts them back on track. The early bye week turns out to be a blessing as it should allow McNabb, Westbrook and Kevin Curtis to avoid missing another game and risking further injury. Additionally, Jackson will have time for his groin to heal and would be well advised to avoid the Dancing with the Stars acrobatics and splits that he displayed after his touchdown catch.

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