One week after officially changing the name of this feature to Mike Check: Evaluating Vick, I'm back to What About Kolb?
Vick started the game, but was of course knocked out at the end of the first quarter with the rib injury. Kolb came in and completed 22 of 35 passes for 201 yards, a touchdown and the interception on the final Hail Mary.
As you know by now, each week, I'll break down the performance of the Eagles' starting quarterback.
Let's start with pass distribution. This is only for Kolb, so the numbers will differ from what you might find elsewhere for the entire game (Vick was in for the first 15 snaps).
McCoy had 11 targets from Kolb, and 15 overall. He had 13 total targets in the previous three games combined. The 15 total targets were the most for any Eagles player in a single game this season. DeSean Jackson's 11 targets against the Packers was the previous high.
Schmitt had the same number of catches as Jackson and Maclin combined. Maclin was only targeted twice. And the Jackson number (6) is deceiving. Four of those were on the final drive that started with 1:07 left in the fourth.
Just 12 of 33 (36.4 percent) of Kolb's attempts were to wide receivers. Sixteen of 33 (48.5 percent) were to running backs.
The YAC number of 119 is deceiving as 82 of those were from McCoy and Schmitt, who caught balls close to the line of scrimmage. The wide receivers totaled only 18 yards after the catch. Jackson came into the game with 111 YAC, which was third-best in the NFL. It's been limited action for Kolb, but we've yet to see those short, timing throws to the receivers that allow them to make plays after the catch.
Seven different receivers caught passes. Riley Cooper went out early with a concussion, and the Eagles only have four wide receivers on their 53-man roster. Second tight end Garrett Mills did not catch a ball.
THE BLITZ, PRESSURE, SHOTGUN, ETC.
When I first re-watched the offensive snaps, I didn't think pass protection was that bad. By my count, Kolb faced some kind of pressure on 10 of 37 dropbacks. However, that number includes a couple plays where Kolb probably held the ball too long.
The troubling part here is how the Redskins pressured him. They did not blitz. They didn't even do a lot to disguise their pressure or confuse Kolb. They basically lined up three or four guys and just attacked. Often times, they won. Of Kolb's 37 dropbacks, I only counted one time when the Redskins rushed more than four.
In other words, pass protection was worse than I originally thought. In previous weeks, I argued that communication and the lack of continuity were the biggest problems on the offensive line. But against Washington, when the 'D' got pressure on Kolb, it was because the Eagles' linemen just got beat.
By now, you know that the Eagles' offensive line was called for four holding penalties - two on Jason Peters, one on Max Jean-Gilles and one on Todd Herremans.
Kolb did not take a lot of big hits. He was sacked once and scrambled twice. And of course, he got rid of the ball quite a bit to the running backs.
Twenty-five of Kolb's 33 pass attempts came out of the shotgun. He was 18-for-25 for 154 yards on those throws. Not as good under center where Kolb completed four of eight passes for 47 yards.
Kolb was 20-for-30 for 188 yards on throws in the pocket; 2-for-4 for 13 yards outside the pocket.
THIRD DOWN, RED ZONE
As a team, the Eagles converted five of 14 third-down opportunities. The previous week, they converted five of 13. With Kolb in the game, the Birds were 5-for-11 on third down, and one of those was the 3rd-and-16 play where he entered the game. So overall, a pretty good performance on third down.
Kolb was 5-for-7 for 44 yards on third down. He hit Avant for 17 yards on a 3rd-and-10 and Celek for 12 yards on a 3rd-and-7.
The Eagles made two trips into the red zone and came away with a field goal and a touchdown. The first trip, of course, was the disaster at the end of the first half. Kolb attempted a pair of passes inside the 20 on that possession. One was a 4-yard dump-off to McCoy. The other was a roll-out from the 2. The Eagles ran play-action, Kolb rolled to his right, had plenty of time and eventually forced an ill-advised throw to Celek.
On the other red-zone trip, Kolb completed all three of his attempts - two to McCoy, and the touchdown to Celek. Maclin also drew a pass interference penalty on a red-zone atttempt. Overall, Kolb was 4-for-5 for 19 yards in the red zone.
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.
As you can see, 24 of Kolb's 33 attempts (72.7 percent) were within 5 yards of the line of scrimmage. Take away the final drive, and that number goes up to 84 percent.
Of Kolb's 22 completions, only three traveled more than 5 yards from the line of scrimmage. The Eagles failed to complete a pass that traveled more than 15 yards from the line of scrimmage. Against the Jaguars, they completed five.
The thing to focus on with Kolb is obviously the short throws and the check-downs. I asked Maclin after the game about the Redskins' scheme, and he said they threw the offense a curve-ball by keeping their safeties so deep and taking away the big plays. Maclin said the Eagles' strategy to take what the defense was giving them was the right one. But then why did they have only 6 points midway through the fourth quarter?
There are several reasons. Yes, the Redskins took away the deep ball, but the Eagles also failed to find success on the intermediate routes. Part of that was because Washington was able to generate pressure with just three or four guys.
And then there were the Eagles mistakes. Two stand out - the delay of game penalty at the end of the first half and the McCoy fumble. If the offense has to rely on methodical drives without any big plays, eliminating those mistakes is critical. Those two opportunities could have led to touchdowns, which would have made this a totally different game.
And finally, there's Kolb. There's no doubt that he looked cautious at times, and confidence is going to be an issue. How could it not be, given the way this season has gone? The Fox crew did an excellent job of pointing out plays where Kolb had throws open downfield, but instead chose to go to his checkdowns. NFL Network broke it down well also in this online video. On perhaps his best chance to hit a big play, Kolb was off-target with his throw to Jackson. Jackson said afterwards that the wind picked it up, but that's still a play that has to be completed.
The job of Andy Reid and Marty Mornhinweg is now to build Kolb back up and to remind him of all the things he worked on in the offseason and at training camp.
This is a big-play offense, and any time the quarterback fails to get the ball to Jackson and Maclin the ball downfield or in positions where they can make things happen, the Eagles will struggle to score points. It's really that simple.