This is probably the most uncertain an Eagles team has looked under Andy Reid since his first training camp in 1999. But you have to admit, this coming season is tinged with excitement simply because the Eagles are throttling forward into an unknown, without Donovan McNabb and Reid tethered together at their mighty hips.
Eagles fans have patiently waited for this day to arrive. They’ve watched years of passes thrown into the dirt diminish into months, months melt into weeks, weeks into days, and now with training camp about to begin, days into mere hours from the beginning of the Kevin Kolb Era. Let’s see what this son-of-a-coach can do when finally given the chance. Let’s see if it was Reid or really McNabb who couldn’t orchestrate a viable two-minute offense, and if it was the coach or his former starting QB that had trouble knowing when and when not to call a timeout.
This season will answer a lot of questions–about Reid, about McNabb in Washington, and finally about Kolb, who showed real glimpses of what he could do in the two games he started last year.
As training camp is about to begin, most of the scrutiny it seems will be aimed at Reid. This season could very well mark his greatest challenge in 12 years as head coach of the Eagles. You can give him a pass in 1999, his first season in trying to reassemble a team in total disarray when he took over–and it showed by going 5-11. You may also be able to give him a pass for the 2005 debacle–putting up with the Terrell Owens mess and McNabb going down and missing seven starts.
But this time Reid has no wiggle room. He made his choice and his choice was Kolb.
At least Reid has surrounded Kolb with a number of things McNabb genuinely never had–and that’s weapons upon weapons. We really don’t know what Kolb can do over a 16-game schedule. Though with all the fine speedy toys he has surrounding him, scoring may not be an issue for the Birds. Defense will be. Mark it down: The Eagles this season will win games in shootouts. Don’t be surprised to see scores like 38-35, 42-37, 35-32. They will be fun to watch for the first time in a while. You just won’t know what’s coming next.
Their inability to play defense will make you gnash your teeth each time they blow a coverage. And it’s coming. Feel good about Ellis Hobbs and I-don’t-like-to-tackle Asante Samuel as your corners, do you? How sure are you Stewart Bradley will return near his 2008 form after losing 2009 with a blown out knee? Can Mike Patterson and Brodrick Bunkley resurrect their 2008 seasons? How about second-year defensive coordinator Sean McDermott? He was placed in a tough spot last year picking up for the deceased Jimmy Johnson as defensive coordinator. Those were some big shoes to fill, but right now I’d settle for a sandal or moccasin. Anything that says this defense won’t be potentially the worst the Eagles have had in Reid’s tenure.
The feeling here is that Kevin Kolb is going to be all right. DeSean Jackson, LeSean McCoy, Leonard Weaver, Brent Celek and Jeremy Maclin say that he’s going to be all right.
The ironic twist to the 2010 season may not depend on what happens when Kolb is on the field, but rather what chaos transpires when he’s off it. The other ironic twist is the one constant McNabb’s teams had–great defense–will be the one missing ingredient at the outset of the Kolb era.
The time is winding down. It’s here. Training camp and another Eagles’ season is upon us. It’s time to let your imagination fly about a team that might produce over 30 points a game in Kolb’s inaugural season as a starter.
But we also might soon be asking ourselves: Where’s the defense when Quintin Mikell and Macho Harris flail at air trying to tackle Miles Austin?