OK so the last time I wrote a “Would You Rather” I said that I hoped it would be a recurring thing on this website. Now on its second iteration, this one takes us from one generation of Eagles football into the next, comparing the incoming starter to the outgoing veteran.
To make a long story short, Kevin Kolb was drafted in the second round of the 2007 NFL Draft as a way for the Eagles to say “Hey, Donovan, as much as we love your fantasy stats, willingness to blame rookies for bad games, and ability to pull off a wide variety of hairdo/facial hair combos (seriously check out how many there were in his 11 seasons here-it’s insane), the NFC Championship blueballs are not cutting it so were gonna draft a quarterback to remind you that you are as replaceable as any of the 20 people we’ve let walk over the last ten years.”
This year, after a disappointing end to the season in which the Eagles were beaten by the Cowboys like a sports movie team gets beaten just before the new coach comes in and stirs things up during an inspirational montage, the Eagles decided that it was time to part with the old bull and bring in the young calf. So McNabb was traded to the Washington Redskins and Kolb was promoted to the starting job with the Birds.
In the name of the alphabet, we’ll examine Kolb first. Kevin Kolb has only started two NFL games in his life, both during the 2009 season – one of which was against the eventual Super Bowl champs, the other was against a team whose best player was Matt Cassell. So his 1-1 record really tells us very little about how he will handle being a full-time starting QB in the NFL. Things that can be said in favor of Kevin Kolb are as follows: started every game for 8 years in high school and college even though his dad was only his coach in high school, played and excelled in a spread out system at the University of Houston that held many similarities to Andy Reid’s west coast system, has an alliterative name that rolls off the tongue with ease, did not go to Notre Dame, has looked good in preseason games past with receivers he will be playing with now, has a type-A personality that says “I want to be the quarterback of a winning team and look good doing it,” and knows the NFL rules on tie games.
On the other hand, he is very inexperienced, did not play in a powerhouse conference, has struggled some in the early goings at camp this year, wears number 4 (better not be a Favre fan), and has been sheltered on the bench holding clipboards for three seasons now. Since I propose that his two starts last year cancel each other out due to the competition, Kolb is a blank slate to me. He has not really proven anything on the NFL regular season stage and while you hope that a guy that has had great success at other levels will translate that confidence into the next level, if he is having a tough time against the Eagles defense in camp, an Eagles defense that is not NEARLY as good as those in past years, just wait till he comes up against the good ones.
McNabb should be comfortable at his new home in Washington where he can’t possibly get higher than second on two dubious lists:
- Underperforming High-Profile Acquisitions (where he has already been outdone most recently by Albert Haynesworth), and
- Controversial Black Men in Traditionally White Positions (I really hope no explanation is needed here)
He leaves the Eagles having served dutifully for 11 years when healthy as the team’s all-time leader in pass attempts, completions, passing yards, touchdowns, NFC Championship Game appearances, and (unofficially, with an assist from Andy Reid) botched 2-minute drills. Things in McNabb’s favor include: prolific regular season statistics, phenomenal college career, taking the draft day boos in stride and proving the fans of Heisman-turned-hippie Ricky Williams wrong, impressive run of spokesmanship for Chunky Soup, Chad Lewis’s 2000-2002 Pro Bowl selections, 6 Pro Bowls of his own, a hilarious preseason interview with Terrell Owens during the season the two of them got along, and 4th and 26.
On the other hand, other than making the Pro Bowl this year because Drew Brees was busy winning the Super Bowl, McNabb’s last Pro Bowl happened when Ruben Studdard had a song in the Billboard top 10 (which was only 5 years ago but doesn’t that make it feel a lot longer?). The only thing more frustrating over his Eagles career than his constant injuries and woe-is-me attitude about the Philadelphia fans was his accuracy. He decided one day in the prime of his career that he did not want to run anymore, the one ability that really made him a remarkable talent despite his struggles in the passing game.
He will have a fresh start in Washington and we’ll see how he fares there but since in this argument we are considering who would be best for the eagles let’s just think about what he has done already, seeing as he has a large body of work to discuss. Ultimately, I think McNabb’s Eagles career for me is defined by frustration. He showed glimpses of brilliance in every aspect of the quarterback position, yet in many ways couldn’t translate it into the kind of consistent, elite performance level required to win a Super Bowl. But these glimpses are exactly what made every poor throw, every mishandled final possession, and every jovial sideline smile in a game where the Birds were down that much more infuriating.
For me, I’m a believer in function of positions in sports, and I think that the pure-bred Texas-born kid who has played quarterback since he could fit pads on his shoulders is worth taking a chance on, at least for a bit. But I do have to admit that it is not easy saying goodbye to the face of the most consistently successful Philadelphia franchise during my Philadelphia fandom.