It’s week 3 in the NFL and the Philadelphia Eagles fly to Phoenix to take on former teammate, Kevin Kolb, and the Arizona Cardinals. Kevin Kolb was once thought to be the future of the Eagles franchise and is replacing the injured John Skelton. The Eagles will look to repeat history and put Kolb back on the shelf, like the Packers did in 2010.
In the beginning of the 2010 season, Kevin Kolb opened the season against the Green Bay Packers and Aaron Rodgers, as the new franchise quarterback after Donovan McNabb was traded to the Washington Redskins in the offseason. It wasn’t long into the game before Kolb was replaced by Michael Vick after being wrapped up and being tackled into the ground head first and being knocked out of the game, and his starting role, by Clay Matthews.
In 2011, Kevin Kolb was traded to the Arizona Cardinals for Dominic Rodgers-Cromartie and a 2nd round pick. Since the trade has taken place, there are questions in Arizona as to whether or not Kolb is worthy of being the Cardinals’ franchise quarterback (and being paid like one), and DRC feels right at home playing the outside cornerback position, already having 2 interceptions this season.
Now, Michael Vick and Kevin Kolb face off against each other, head-to-head as the Eagles and Cardinals are 2-0 going into week 3.
The Eagles are coming off of 2 comeback wins against the Cleveland Browns and the Baltimore Ravens, respectively. The Cardinals beat the Seattle Seahawks in week 1 and just squeaked by against the New England Patriots, after a Stephen Gostkowski missed a game-winning field goal.
What are the Eagles going to have to do beat their former teammate?
#1) Limit the Turnovers
I feel like this is the central motif for the season. You can’t become a championship caliber team if you already have 9 turnovers in the first 2 games. Yes, the Eagles defense has made up for this delinquent statistic, but it’s still Juan Castillo’s defense, and we’re still not quite sure if he is going to revert to the same mistakes coaching the defense that he did last year. This Eagles defense, which now features a very dominant and deep defensive line, a vocal leader for the linebackers in DeMeco Ryans, and shutdown corners like DRC and Nnamdi Asomugha, is now ranked 4th in the league, behind the Houston Texans, New England Patriots, and the San Diego Chargers. The offense is ranked #1 in total offense and yards per game, but they also lead the league in turnovers. This is coincides with the team’s recent offensive line woes.
#2) Shore up the Offensive Line
First, Jason Peters tears his Achilles in the offseason and the Eagles signed Demetress Bell as his replacement. Bell has a bad camp and King Dunlap took over at Left Tackle, only to pull his hamstring against the Ravens last Sunday. This week’s concerns also include Jason Kelce’s season ending injury, which now puts the responsibilities of being the Center on Dallas Reynolds. My question is: are we going to notice that Jason Kelce is gone with Reynolds at Center, or can Reynolds fill the position without missing a beat? If not, Steve Vallos was signed on Tuesday to be the back up to Reynolds. If that doesn’t hold up, Andy Reid has hinted at bringing the depth from the defensive line over into the offensive line (Cullen Jenkins). Either way, the team needs to be ready against a Cardinals defensive line that has seven sacks through the first two weeks of this season. When you consider that and how the Eagles offensive line has looked so far and factor in the injuries, it doesn’t look too good.
#3) Put the Pressure on Kolb
Kevin Kolb is human, and the same mistakes he was making under center in Philadelphia are the same mistakes he’s making in Arizona. Kolb gets flustered in the pocket and doesn’t seem to have full understanding of the Cardinals’ offense; this is why there was a quarterback competition between him and John Skelton and why Skelton was the week 1 starter. Kolb will look to throw to Larry Fitzgerald on the outside corners and DRC or Asomugha will have to put the pressure on him. If Fitzgerald gets away, look for Nate Allen or Kurt Coleman to knock his block off. I like their intensity so far this season! That’s football intensity!
#4) Beware the Cardinals’ Defense
Patrick Peterson is a physical specimen to say the least; look for him to cover DeSean Jackson. Although Peterson is bigger, Jackson is faster, explosive, and no longer plays with much caution. So, if Jackson wants to win this matchup, it will have to be on the deep ball. But even then, you’ve got Adrian Wilson and Kerry Rhodes to deal with. So, don’t expect Jackson to be a huge factor on Sunday. Vick will have to look for the short and intermediate passes to Jason Avant and Demarius Johnson. Oh, and he should probably look to run the ball early and often.
Conclusion – The Eagles will beat the Cardinals on Sunday. I’m expecting a pretty close game between the two teams, mostly because recent history says that Vick doesn’t trust his offensive line to protect him long enough to make more accurate throws. This game will be dictated and won by the defense. I won’t predict the score, but am foreseeing a game that will be fun to watch. Get some things around the house done and get yourself ready for this 4:05 matchup.
Time’s yours . . .