Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Kolb's strengths, weaknesses and value

For months now, we've followed speculation about what Kevin Kolb's value will be on the trade market.

Kolb's strengths, weaknesses and value

Eagles quarterback Kevin Kolb is still not comfortable out of the pocket, completing only 63.2 percent of his passes. (Yong Kim/Staff file photo)
Eagles quarterback Kevin Kolb is still not comfortable out of the pocket, completing only 63.2 percent of his passes. (Yong Kim/Staff file photo)

For months now, we've followed speculation about what Kevin Kolb's value will be on the trade market.

And if CBA talks continue to move in a positive direction, it appears we could finally find out what he is worth in the next few weeks.

Evaluating Kolb comes down to several simple questions: What has he shown so far? What are his strengths? What are his weaknesses? How does he project?

Answers to those questions vary, depending on who you ask. But I really enjoyed this analysis by Adam Caplan of FoxSports.com and Greg Cosell of NFL Films. They took a look at the coach's tape and broke down five of Kolb's starts as an NFL quarterback. Their article made me think of the idea for today's post.

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Just looking at Kolb's career numbers really isn't fair, and the statistics are not impressive: 60.8 completion percentage; 6.53 YPA; 11 TDs, 14 INTs, 73.2 QB rating.

But those numbers include Kolb's performance in multiple situations where the deck would be stacked against most quarterbacks. In 2009, he was asked to relieve Donovan McNabb against the Ravens, the league's third-best scoring defense (16.3 PPG) that season. And last year, he had to relieve Michael Vick against the Redskins and then play with the second-stringers in Week 17 against Dallas.

Overall, in his career, there have been five times where Kolb has practiced all week as the No. 1 quarterback and then started and finished a game. Those are the performances to judge him on.

I did not do the weekly quarterback breakdowns in 2009, but I did put them together last season. So today, let's take a look at how Kolb performed in specific areas in those three starts against the 49ers, Falcons and Titans.

SUCCESS BY DISTANCE

A reminder that I used the same ranges that Football Outsiders uses. Short is 5 yards or less. Mid is 6 to 15 yards. Deep is 16 to 25 yards. And Bomb is more than 25 yards. These are measured from the line of scrimmage to the point where the ball is touched, hits the ground or goes out of bounds. I did not include (in any of the numbers below) balls that were batted at the line, spiked to stop the clock or thrown away.

  Completions Attempts Yards
Short 39 49 237
Mid 18 25 194
Deep 9 14 184
Bomb 4 10 195

The interesting thing here is the Deep/Bomb throws. Overall, he completed 13 of 24. But those numbers could have been even better. In the loss to the Titans, Kolb underthrew receivers multiple times and was just 4-for-13 on the Deep/Bomb throws. On the other hand, against the Falcons, he was perfect on those throws, completing all six attempts for 198 yards.

It's worth noting that he was playing without DeSean Jackson against Tennessee. Overall, the numbers indicate that Kolb has the ability to get the ball downfield, although he lacked consistency on those throws in the three-game stretch I'm examining here.

AGAINST THE BLITZ

The 49ers, Falcons and Titans blitzed (defined here as rushes of five defenders or more) Kolb on 18.5 percent of his dropbacks.

On throws against the blitz, Kolb was 12-for-22 for 103 yards. In other words, he was OK, but did not make opposing defenses pay when they gambled with extra rushers. Kolb averaged just 4.48 yards per attempt against the blitz.

The 49ers blitzed him just three times. Against Tennessee, he went 6-for-11 on throws against the blitz, and on two of those incompletions, he made good reads, had open receivers, but missed throws.

Overall, he's shown potential to be effective against the blitz, but Kolb definitely needs to get better with his throws here.

POCKET PASSER?

I remember one of the first things that stood out for me when I first started watching Kolb closely was that he was pretty athletic and looked like he could eventually be a quarterback who was comfortable out of the pocket.

However, that's not the case yet. In these three games, Kolb completed 70 percent of his attempts in the pocket (again, not including balls batted at the line, thrown away or spiked) and averaged 7.79 yards per attempt.

Outside the pocket, he completed 63.2 percent of his passes and averaged 5.42 yards per attempt.

One more note here: Kolb was excellent on play-action throws in this three-game stretch. He completed 21 of 29 passes for 352 yards (12.1 YPA).

OVERALL

It's difficult to project Kolb based on 319 career passes, which is why I think you see such varying opinions on what he should be worth.

Interested teams will see the quarterback who carved up the Falcons, and they'll be intrigued by taking a shot on a 26 year old who has spent the first part of his career being taught by Andy Reid and Marty Mornhinweg. They will take notice of the classy way Kolb handled a difficult 2010 and be encouraged by the positive things his teammates have to say about him.

The skeptics will take note of how uncomfortable he sometimes looks at the first sign of pressure and question why Reid went with Michael Vick last season if he really believed in Kolb. They'll see him as far from a sure thing and wonder why any team would even consider giving up a first-round pick for him.

As is always the case in these scenarios, it only takes one team to fall in that first category, and the Eagles will have their trade partner.

After a full offseason of speculation, we will hopefully find out where he's going in the weeks to come. And then comes the fun part: We actually get to watch and see how Kolb's career plays out.


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Sheil Kapadia Philly.com
About this blog
Sheil Kapadia is in his fifth season writing about the Eagles and the NFL for philly.com. His earliest memories as a sports fan include several trips to Veterans Stadium with his Dad. He's not a beat writer or an Insider, but is here to discuss the NFL 365 days a year. E-mail him at skapadia@philly.com or by clicking here

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