After two very good starts against the 49ers and Falcons, Kevin Kolb struggled last Sunday in the Eagles' loss to the Titans.
Here's the weekly breakdown of how Kolb performed. As always, let's start with the pass distribution.
Note that Kolb officially had 48 attempts. However, two of those balls were spiked to kill the clock on the final drive of the first half, and he threw four balls away out of bounds, plus one was batted at the line of scrimmage. I didn't count targets for any of those plays.
What stands out is the Kolb-to-Maclin connection. In the previous two weeks, Kolb had targeted Maclin 14 times, and those throws resulted in 13 completions for 254 yards and a pair of touchdowns. Against the Titans, Kolb targeted Maclin 12 times, and those throws resulted in just five completions for 42 yards.
The good news is Kolb was looking for him. The bad news is the pair wasn't on the same page. Early on, Maclin slipped on an attempt that looked like it would have resulted in a first down. Kolb's interception in the second quarter was targeted to Maclin, but horribly underthrown. On another play in the second, Kolb did a good job to escape pressure and roll to his right, but he was off-target with a throw in Maclin's direction.
With 1:10 left in the first half, Kolb had Maclin open deep on what should have been a touchdown, but again, he underthrew him. And finally, in the fourth quarter, Maclin couldn't come up with a ball that was in his hands. It would have been a big gain, but he was unable to hold on. The play was far from routine, but one that he should make, so I gave him a drop. What can I say? I'm a harsh grader this week.
Kolb-to-Avant was efficient, as they connected for six completions and 60 yards on seven targets. Cooper came up big, not only with the great play on the 37-yard gain at the end of the first half, but also the touchdown and a third-down conversion in the third quarter.
Celek still has been unable to get things going. I'll take a closer look at his numbers later in the week.
The YAC were pretty much non-existent. The total is 90 yards, but 54 of those were to McCoy, who caught the ball near the line of scrimmage. The Eagles had only 28 yards after the catch on 15 completions to wide receivers.
Eight different players had at least one reception.
THE BLITZ, PRESSURE, SHOTGUN, ETC.
Kolb saw more blitzes than he'd seen in previous weeks. He dropped back 48 times and was blitzed on 12 of those occasions. On throws against the blitz, Kolb completed 6 of 11 attempts for 55 yards. He was also sacked once.
On two of those incompletions, Kolb made good reads but poor throws. It's worth noting that Kolb got better against the blitz as the game went along, which is a good sign. He started off 1-for-5 (plus the sack) the first six times he was blitzed. In the second half, Kolb was 5-for-6 against the blitz.
Kolb was sacked just once, but saw pretty consistent pressure. He did a good job escaping at times, but was off-target with his throws.
In the pocket, Kolb was 22-for-37 for 177 yards. Out of the pocket, he was just 3-for-7 for 17 yards.
Under center, Kolb was 9-for-15 for 66 yards. In the shotgun, he was 16-for-30 for 128 yards.
Note that the 37-yard completion to Cooper is not included in either of the above categories since Kolb lined up out wide on the trick play.
The previous two weeks, the Eagles' offense killed teams with play-action passes. Against the 49ers and Falcons, Kolb was 18-for-21 for 335 yards off play-action. Against the Titans, he was just 3-for-8 for 17 yards on those attempts.
THIRD DOWN, RED ZONE
As a team, the Eagles did well on third down, converting 10 of 18 opportunities. Kolb was 8-for-14 for 43 yards on third down. Crazy stat: Of the first nine times Kolb dropped back on third down, the Eagles came away with eight successful conversions. It wasn't just one guy, either. Kolb targeted seven different receivers on third down, and five of them had third-down catches.
After the hot start, however, it got ugly. The next six times Kolb dropped back on third down, the Eagles came away with just one successful conversion.
The Eagles had four red-zone chances. The results were a touchdown, two field goals and a fumble. Kolb was actually pretty good in the red zone. He completed 5 of 8 throws for 30 yards. On the first red-zone possession, McCoy was dropped for 5 yards on second down after King Dunlap missed his block. That gave the Eagles a 3rd-and-goal from the 12 instead of the 7, and they had to settle for a field goal after a short completion.
On the second possession, Kolb made a nice read and throw to Cooper for the touchdown. The third possession resulted in a fumble, but Kolb made another nice throw to Cooper for 9 yards on 3rd-and-3 before the turnover. And Kolb couldn't connect with Maclin on the fourth red-zone possession on third down.
SUCCESS BY DISTANCE
Here's a chart of Kolb's throws by distance. I used the same ranges that Football Outsiders uses so we'd have a point of reference. 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.
At first glance, it looks like Kolb threw a bunch of balls Short (21 of 41 attempts, 51.2 percent). But the previous week against the Falcons, 15 of his 29 attempts (51.7 percent) were in the Short range.
The difference is completions. Against the Titans, 18 of 26 completions were Short (69.2 percent).
Kolb took shots downfield, but couldn't connect. He was just 3-for-7 on throws between 16 and 25 yards. On throws of more than 25 yards, he was 1-for-6.
As a means of comparison, Kolb was 6-for-6 on Deep and Bomb throws (combined) last week. In the previous two games, he was 9-for-11 on those throws.
Kolb underthrew receivers multiple times. Even the 37-yard completion to Cooper (the only Bomb completion) was severely underthrown, but the Eagles' rookie made a great play on the ball.
The numbers show 22 incompletions, but it's a little more complicated when you break it down. Four balls were thrown away, and two were spikes. Maclin and Cooper each slipped on two other incompletions. And McCoy didn't turn around in time on one. In other words, of the 22 incompletions, there were nine that should not be classified as Kolb just missing a receiver.
That's not to say he played well, though. Kolb definitely missed his share of throws, and multiple attempts were off-target to receivers open downfield. Those could have been big plays, game-changing plays.
Maybe I'm not being harsh enough, but this is what I expected from him in his first season as a starter. A good game here, a bad game there. A great throw on one play, a horrible mistake on the next. Those are the general growing pains we're used to seeing from someone with his level of experience.
Now it's unclear when he'll next start a game for the Eagles. Michael Vick is back at the helm after the bye, and Kolb is back on the sidelines.
What I've seen out of Kolb through the first seven weeks certainly suggests he can be an effective starting quarterback in this league. At times, he's looked great throwing the deep ball. In other instances, he's looked shaky. I think he has the arm. It's just a matter of Kolb improving in that area with timing and accuracy.
I actually thought he showed improvement in terms of sensing pressure last week. He was only sacked once, and that number could have been higher. But Kolb needs to be more accurate on throws after he escapes the pocket.
I was concerned about his confidence after getting benched, but Kolb looks to be mentally tough. He'll now go back to playing the role of the good solider and cheering Vick on from the sidelines, not knowing when his next opportunity is coming.