NFC East Rundown, Philadelphia Eagles: Is Kevin Kolb Ready?
Instead of doing a fairly sh***y (excsuse my language, but hey, that word could be “shoddy” for all you know) job reporting on the happenings from around the NFC East, I figured it would be best to speak with the people who actually cover the opposition.
For today’s installment of our three-part “NFC East Rundown” Series, I spoke with Jason B. of BleedingGreenNation.com to get the latest scoop on the Philadelphia Eagles.
Q: Obviously a lot of the Eagles’ success this year will ride on Kevin Kolb. How has he looked thus far in offseason workouts?
The reports on Kolb in the offseason workouts have been great. Everyone from Ron Jaworkski, Dick Vermeil, to all the local reporters have remarked on how crisp and accurate he is. All the young weapons on the Eagles offense have nothing but good stuff to say as well and seem genuinely excited about playing with a young quarterback. They collectively see themselves as the next generation and seem really anxious to show that they can play with each other.
Q: There are obviously a ton of weapons for Kolb on the offense, but how important will it be for him to limit his turnovers? Do you think he is at the point where he could perhaps pass on a big play opportunity in favor or protecting the ball?
We have so little game tape on Kolb to go on that it’s hard to make a lot of evaluations or predictions. Of course it’s always important for a young quarterback to limit turnovers and in Kolb’s two career starts we saw evidence of good and bad. There were instances in the New Orleans game where didn’t appear to see a roving safety, but there were plays in both that game and the Kansas City game where he smartly threw a ball away when nothing was there.
I do think it’s safe to say he’ll try to fit passes in places McNabb wouldn’t and that may very well lead to more turnovers than McNabb had. . .but given that McNabb was one of the most stingy quarterbacks in terms of turnovers in NFL history, that prediction is not much of a stretch.
Q: With Brian Westbrook gone, do the Eagles have enough firepower in the backfield to last the entire season? Is LeSean McCoy capable of handling 25 touches a game?
Well, Brian Westbrook was effectively gone last year, so we got a preview of what the backfield looks like without him then. LeSean McCoy had a solid rookie year finishing 3rd among rookie backs in yardage and Leonard Weaver was a pleasant surprise.
McCoy, who was a workhorse at Pitt, looks set to be the #1 guy. He needs to improve his pass blocking and there’s some ball security questions, but overall there’s really no reason to think he can’t handle a lot of touches at the pro level.
Former Saint Mike Bell will likely be McCoy’s primary backup. Bell actually led the Saints in carries last year and is considered a dependable backup/depth guy. The team also picked up power back Charles Scott from LSU in the draft this year.
Like I’ve said before, it’s not talent that will hold back the Eagles running game this year. . . it’s Andy Reid. I really think he’s got the horses to have a solid running game, it’s just down to whether he actually uses them.
Q: Free safety is a concern in Philly just as in Dallas. With newly-acquired Marlin Jackson done for the year, what are the Birds’ plans at that position?
It’s second round pick Nate Allen’s job to lose. Macho Harris was moved back to his more familiar position of corner this year, so the training camp battle will be between Allen and Quintin Demps. While no one will be that excited about having to start a rookie at the position, most Eagles fans are relieved that the team at least appears to have a long term solution in Nate Allen.
The plan was most likely to have Marlin Jackson start the year to take some pressure of Allen, but it was always going to be Nate’s job eventually. It just happened sooner than expected.
Q: Do you see Brent Celek having an even bigger role with another year under his belt and his buddy Kevin Kolb throwing him passes?
Not even a question. I’ve been telling friends that Brent Celek is a huge fantasy sleeper this year for that very reason. He and Kolb hooked up well in Kolb’s two starts and as you said the two are good friends off the field. Plus, the tight end is always a security blanket for a young quarterback. Celek had a breakout season last year and his numbers will probably only improve with Kolb at the helm.
Q: The Cowboys had success against the Eagles’ blitzes last year, primarily with bubble screens. Do you envision less blitzes being called in 2010?
I think it all depends on what you think the problem was. Was it the blitzes or the guys running them? The Eagles defense, particularly its linebacker corps, was hit pretty badly with injuries last year. Plus, the defensive line underperformed and the secondary was beat up as well.
I honestly doubt whether less blitzes would have changed their fortunes that much against Dallas late in the year. I think the Eagles hope that any game plan they have will be better with their offseason additions like Brandon Graham, Ernie Sims, and the returning Stewart Bradley running them. While I’m sure that schematic adjustments need to be made against Dallas, I would tend to agree that an overall upgrade in talent will mean more than anything.
If the Eagles defense beats Dallas this year, it’s going to be because Brandon Graham can play, Nate Allen can play, Stewart Bradley has healed from injury, and Ernie Sims is an upgrade. . . not because they blitzed any more or less.
Q: Is there any chance that DeSean Jackson gets a new deal this year? Could that situation become a potential distraction for the team?
I can’t see how he’d get an extension until a new CBA is done. The 30% rule more or less has his hands and the team’s hands tied. I also can’t see how it will become a distraction because he knows this. Both and he his agent Drew Rosenhaus have said that they know it’s a waiting game until the labor situation is resolved. In fact, he was again asked about the contract yesterday and talked about the CBA problems for the 100th time this offseason. He’s been asked about his contract so many times and given the same answer so many times that you get the feeling like the media is just dying for him to make it a problem. So far, he’s avoided taking the bait.
Q: Any final NFC East predictions?
I really can’t even hazard a guess without getting to see this new Eagles team play, the Redskins offense, and the Giants defense. There’s just so many huge questions in the division. I at least need the preseason to get a handle on it!
I will say though that it’s fair to call the Cowboys favorites. They clearly have the least amount of questions going into the year. For them, it seems like the question isn’t whether they can get to the playoffs, it’s whether they can finally do something when they get there.