Kevin Kolb had a horrible beginning as the Eagles starting quarterback. There’s no arguing that. His performance has brought into question his ability to play under pressure and being smacked around a few times.
My response to that question is: How many quarterbacks are built (mentally and physically) to get hit the majority of the game?
There are very few signal callers I can label as ‘tough’ quarterbacks. Donovan McNabb, Ben Roethlisberger and Brett Favre are the current guys that come to mind. Aaron Rodgers is moving quickly into this category as well.
As far as the best quarterbacks in the league, let’s look at today’s top 3 and you’ll see something in common.
1. Peyton Manning-Still one of the best, but a lot of his success has to do with his trust in Ryan Diem, Jeff Saturday (who Manning probably strongly petitioned to return) and formerly Tarik Glenn. Charlie Johnson is currently earning his stripes at left tackle.
2. Tom Brady- Brady will probably go down as the second best QB in history to Joe Montana, especially if he wins another Super Bowl. He’s had the luxury of playing behind Matt Light, Steven Neal, Dan Koppen and Logan Mankins (who will get a contract extension before Randy Moss does).
3. Drew Brees- The Saints are the champions because they have the best offensive line in the league. Jahri Evans, Jonathan Goodwin, Jonathan Stinchcomb all earned Pro Bowl nods. In addition there’s Carl Nicks and Jermon Bushrod. No wonder Brees is comfortable stepping up in the pocket.
One huge key to a quarterback’s success is his level of trust in his offensive line. This is especially true when it comes to the center and left tackle positions.
The center is supposed to manage the snap counts and blitz pickups. The left tackle is responsible for the quarterback’s blind side and usually has to take on the opponent’s best pass rusher.
This leads to the current state of the Eagles’ offensive line. I’ve said numerous times that it doesn’t matter who they have at quarterback, if this offensive line isn’t stabilized (which it isn’t) there’s not going to be much success when they have the ball.
Do you think Michael Vick wanted to rush for over 100 yards yesterday? He probably did, but that’s not the point. He did what he had to do with his abilities because his protection was mediocre.
Winston Justice had some trouble when Clay Matthews rushed from his side (particularly the play Kolb got hurt). Nick Cole and Todd Herremans were okay.
Mike McGlynn stepped in, but he’s not going make anyone forget how huge it is that Jamaal Jackson is likely gone for the season. Remember, the Eagles have to face nose tackles Albert Haynesworth and Jay Ratliff twice still.
Now, on to Jason Peters. The left tackle is supposed to be the most skill offensive lineman. Due to the fact that the tackles are farthest from the center and QB, awareness should be a requisite.
I don’t care how many Pro Bowl appearances Peter’s has made, an O-line cannot be successful if their left tackle is leading them (and perhaps the team) in penalties.
By doing that, Peters is constantly pushing the offense back and forcing them to become more predictable. As a 7 year veteran, it’s difficult envisioning him improving anytime soon.
Last year, when the Eagles traded for Peters it made sense because they wanted a seasoned veteran who could possibly help McNabb win immediately. That obviously didn’t happen.
Now that the Eagles have shuffled their roster to get younger, the move for Peters looks to make little sense. They could’ve drafted Michael Oher (who’s starting for the highly favored Baltimore Ravens) which would’ve been a longer term deal. It also would’ve made more financial sense.
I don’t think an offensive line anchored by Jason Peters is going to earn any quarterback’s full trust. Because of that, as long as Peters is an Eagle we’ll never get to give a fair assessment on Kolb whether it’s good or bad.