Tuesday, February 9, 2016

What about Kolb? And Vick...

Here's a detailed look at how Kevin Kolb and Michael Vick performed in Week 1 Sunday afternoon against the Packers.

What about Kolb? And Vick...

Michael Vick, left, is expected to start Sunday for Kevin Kolb, who is rehabbing from a concussion. (Staff photographers)
Michael Vick, left, is expected to start Sunday for Kevin Kolb, who is rehabbing from a concussion. (Staff photographers)

Every week, I'm going to take a close look at Kevin Kolb's performance in this special feature.

Obviously, given how things went against the Packers, it makes sense to include Michael Vick this week.

Here's the rundown:


  Targets Catches Yards YAC
DeSean Jackson 11 4 30 7
Jason Avant 7 4 41 9
Jeremy Maclin 5 4 38 9
LeSean McCoy 5 5 47 47
Brent Celek 4 2 32 0
Eldra Buckley 1 1 10 7
Mike McGlynn 1 1 1 0

As you can see, the Eagles tried (unsuccessfully) to get the ball to Jackson. Four of those 11 targets were while Kolb was in the game, but none of them resulted in a completion, as Jackson did not have a catch until the second half. Neither did Avant or Celek.

Yards after the catch were non-existent. During the first half, no Eagles receiver or tight end picked up a single yard after the catch. The McCoy numbers are deceiving since those yards came on screen passes.

All offseason, we heard about the short passing game and putting receivers in a position to make plays after the reception, but that didn't happen on Sunday, and was a key in Kolb's struggles.

I didn't count any drops, although there was a Kolb throw to Celek that he got his hands on. The timing of the play was completely off though, and the throw was not on target.


Kolb dropped back to pass 13 times and was blitzed seven times (53.8 percent). Now, keep in mind that blitzes are more difficult to define with the Packers' 3-4 defense that employs hybrid linebackers/defensive ends. With the Eagles, identifying a blitz is simple. It's when they rush a player other than the four defensive linemen.

For the Packers, if they lined up four guys at the line of scrimmage and rushed the passer, I did not include it as a blitz. If they rushed four, but the fourth was a linebacker coming on a delay up the middle or something of that nature, I did count it as a blitz. The important thing is I used the same criteria for both Kolb and Vick.

Kolb was 3-for-5 for 17 yards against the blitz, and was sacked twice. On his other throws, Kolb was 2-for-5 for 7 yards. The idea that Kolb was under constant pressure is not exactly true. The protection wasn't great, but he faced no significant pressure nine of the 13 times he dropped back. On the two sacks, it looked like Kolb had time to make his first read, but then was met with pressure in his face. On the play where Kolb was chased down from behind by Clay Matthews and suffered a concussion, the Packers only rushed three.

Only one of Kolb's pass attempts was from outside the pocket - a 6-yard completion to McCoy.

Kolb was in the shotgun on 11 of 13 snaps, and all five of his completions were out of the 'gun.

The Eagles ran play-action just once while Kolb was in the game, and it resulted in an incompletion.

As for Vick, he was blitzed on 14 of 31 dropbacks (45.1 percent). He had excellent numbers against the blitz, completing 8 of 11 passes for 95 yards. By my count, he faced pressure on nine of 31 dropbacks, but of course had more success because he was able to make plays with his legs. He was also very decisive.

The contention that Vick was overly eager to run at the first sign of pressure is not exactly true. He was 16-for-22 for 175 yards on throws inside the pocket. Only two of his 24 attempts (both incompletions) were outside the pocket. He took off and ran four times out of 31 drop-backs and was sacked three times.

Like Kolb, he worked primarily out of the shotgun (25 of 31 dropbacks out of the 'gun).


Really, no situation better illustrates Kolb's struggles than his performance on third down. Kolb was on the field for four third downs, and here were the results:

1. Sack.
2. Incompletion (originally ruled an interception, and then overturned).
3. 1-yard scramble on the play where he sustained a concussion.
4. Flukey completion (McGlynn caught the ball after it popped up, intended for McCoy).

Kolb did not attempt a pass in the red zone.

Vick, on the other hand, had most of his success on third down. He was 5-for-7 for 71 yards and a touchdown on third down. And there was also a conversion where Maclin drew a holding penalty. Vick's 17-yard touchdown pass to Maclin was on third down.

In the red zone, he was 2-for-5 for 17 yards.

The play Vick would like to have back is the third-down incompletion in the red zone. He had open receivers and also room to run, but instead forced the ball to Jackson, and the Eagles settled for a field goal.


Here's a chart of each quarterback'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.

  Kolb Vick
Short 4-5, 18 yards 10-16, 82 yards
Mid 1-3, 6  yards 4-5, 49 yards
Deep 0-1 1-2, 17 yards
Bomb 0-1 1-1, 27 yards

What stands out here is that the Eagles, a big-play offense in 2009, relied on short and intermediate passes all game. Was a lot of that due to protection issues? Probably. But with Jackson at their disposal, I expect them to take more shots down the field going forward. Nine of those 11 Jackson targets were within 15 yards of the line of scrimmage. The one deep ball and the one bomb came while Kolb was in the game.

Twenty-one of 34 (62 percent) of the Eagles' pass attempts were within 5 yards of the line of scrimmage. Twenty-nine of 34 attempts (85.2 percent) were within 15 yards of the line of scrimmage. The biggest play of the day was the beautiful throw and catch form Vick to Celek.


Obviously, the numbers pass the eyeball test. Vick was a much better quarterback than Kolb on Sunday.

With that being said, anyone who is ready to write off Kolb's career based on 22 snaps, 10 pass attempts and one half of a football is going overboard. The Eagles traded their franchise quarterback to a division rival and paid Kolb $12.25M in guaranteed money. When he's healthy, he's going to start.

As for Vick, the numbers could have been even better. He missed a few receivers and couldn't get the ball in the end zone on the play mentioned above. But he made some spectacular throws, was decisive and led the Eagles back. As was the case early in his career, Vick's legs are a weapon unmatched by any other quarterback in the league. Based on 31 drop-backs and 24 pass attempts, he looked like he could definitely start in the NFL.

Having said that, now he will have to perform against a team that has seen him on film and is game-planning for him. I'm not saying he'll struggle against the Lions (he's likely to start), but this will be a better gauge of what kind of progress he's made in the last year.

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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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