OK, you all know by now my feelings about Kevin Kolb. Even with my reservations, I wanted to find out more about him. So, we are joined by Tyler Nickel from SB Nation's Revenge of the Birds to talk about Kevin Kolb. We go into detail about the highs/lows of his career there, what went wrong, and if he can still start in this league. I also decided to reach out to the boys over at Eagles Eye to get a Philly point of view. Both Q&A's are more uplifting than my prognosticating…so, yeah, I'm a douche.
1) What are his strengths and weaknesses?
I would say Kolb's biggest strength also lends itself to his biggest weakness. He is surprisingly fleet of foot and can throw well while on the run, but the problem is that he is often quick to run out of the pocket once he starts feeling pressure. He is quite accurate on short to intermediate throws, but could be better on the long ball. While in Arizona, I was never overly impressed with his leadership skills, so it will be interesting to see if he takes control of your Bills team.
2) The Kolb deal will probably go down as one of the worst trades in Cards history, why didn't it work out for you guys?
It didn't work out simply because Kolb couldn't stay on the field. His actual biggest weakness, not related to his actual play, was that he is injury prone. He played in just 15 games over the past two seasons with the Cardinals. If he could have stayed healthy, that trade may have panned out.
3) The Bills are going to be running a west coast offense, how do you see Kolb fitting into that style of offense?
Considering the West Coast offense is what he thrived in while with the Eagles, I think Kolb will be very good with the Bills. The caveat, as always, is whether or not he can stay healthy.
4) What needs to happen around Kolb for him to be a successful QB? Like what type of WRs need to work around him or OL?
I think Kolb can work with a variety of wide receiver types, but it is the offensive line that matters most. A good pass protecting line will be important in giving Kolb time to diagnose the defense and get the ball out of his hands.
5) Do you think he can still be an NFL starter? Why?
I do think Kolb can be a productive NFL starter as long as he stays healthy and is placed in the right system. I personally see Buffalo as a good fit for him, which might be why he didn't agree to a restructured contract in Arizona.
6) What were some of his best and worst games he had?
I thought one of his more promising games was game one against the Seattle Seahawks in 2012. He did not start that game, but came in to replace John Skelton in the 3rd quarter and led the Cardinals to a surprising comeback victory. Kolb also had some bad games while in a Cardinals uniform, including his game against the Bills last season and his game against the Vikings in 2011.
7) On the surface, the Bills have better RBs and OL than the Cardinals. How do you think that will play into Kolb being better or does it really matter for him since his stats aren't exactly stellar?
I think that will help him greatly. As I said, a good pass protecting offensive line will allow him to sit in the pocket a bit longer. A good running game will open the field up more for him, especially if defenses are forced to collapse on Spiller and Jackson.
1) Can you describe the type of player Kolb was in Philly?
I liked him as a 2nd-round draft pick coming out of Houston. He was a tough kid from a working farm in Texas. He had nice touch on his passes and could make all the throws. He seemed to have "quiet leadership" skills.
When he first got his chance to back up McNabb, I saw great throws and I also saw some rookie-type mistakes… like the 107-yard pick he telegraphed to Ed Reed back in 2008. But he grew and he learned from there.
As he finally got the starting job in 2010, you could see he had command of a West Coast-style offense. He was making all the throws. Maybe his deep throws tended to flutter a bit. But he was making good decisions, especially in red-zone situations.
Maybe the one key shortcoming I started to notice was his escapability from rogue pass rushes was not very swift. Maybe he was holding on to the ball too long in hot situations. Maybe both. But he started to take a pounding. He eventually lost his job to Mike Vick due to a pounding he took from Clay Matthews and the Packers. That was a zone-blitz rush that came up the middle of the line and flushed Kolb out to the left sideline. I always thought Kolb should have read that blitz before it came. Of course, easy for me to say from my armchair.
2) Why do you think it went bad for him in 'Zona, but decently with the Eagles?
He had a decent running game in Philly to balance his offense. He did not have that kind of sustained running game in Arizona. Also his offensive line and pass-pro blocking was better at Philly. Way better. Having all-pro Jason Peters at Left Tackle was a tremendous part of Kolb's game when it was "on"…
3) Would you say Kolbbenefited because of Andy Reid and it was just a case of Belichick and Cassel in New England, where the coach made the QB that much better?
No, I think Kolb's fit into the "right system" matters more than who the head coach was at the time… Funny you mention Belichick and New England, because in reality the Patriots run a pure West Coast offense. The way they distribute the football and call offensive plays is classic West Coast. Andy Reid wanted Kolb because he saw what Belichick was doing with Tom Brady and his running backs, and Reid felt Kolb could master the same kind of offense. It could have just as easily been Matt Cassel that Andy Reid wanted to plug into his Philly version West Coast offense.
4) Do you think going back to the west coast offense in Buffalo will help? Why?
Personally I was a big Fitz fan, so I'm a little sorry to see Buffalo get away from the newer system. But if the Bills go back to more of a pure West Coast system, they need to come up with a stronger, more versatile running game, they need to utilize their tight ends more in the offense, and they really need to have an excess of excellent offensive line play. You can never have too many good offensive linemen on a roster if you're running a West Coast offense. Now you need to add a QB#1 and a QB#2 who can drive the thing.
If you put all those above conditions together, I think Buffalo ends up scoring more points per game. That's why I think a switch back makes sense to the Bills.
5) Kolb took a ton of sacks while he was in Arizona, did you see that sort of pocket unawareness in Philly? Why?
No, Kolb wasn't really sacked all that often in Philly. He would occasionally not read a blitz correctly, as mentioned above with the Clay Matthews incident. I thought overall he had good protection and good pocket awareness in Philly. The problem in Arizona was there often was no pocket! The Cardinals' offensive line was overwhelmed, and often the pass rush got to Kolb in the shotgun before the ball did. It was pretty bad, man. I know the Bills can do a better job of protecting Kolb.