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Spotlight: Kevin Kolb

posted by Ryan Sitzmann on Aug 9th

Ryan Sitzmann's thoughts

Discussions about a potential Kevin Kolb trade have dominated NFL player conversations this long hot summer. That he would wind up as an Arizona Cardinal was one of the worst kept secrets of the offseason. Now that he is in the desert and preparing for the 2011 season, what results should be expected? This will be Kolb's fifth NFL season and over the past two seasons, there have been many games that he played a significant role so the pace of the game will not be new to him. The very short preseason will not offer him as much practice time with his new team and with expectations so high, there will be added pressure on both him and the Cardinals to start fast. One of his acknowledged strengths is that he is recognized as being smart and a quick study; in fact he started as a freshman at the University of Houston so that should help him get started quickly.

Before we consider expectations, let's examine a little closer his production for the Eagles. Two of his significant games were in 2009, following an injury to Donovan McNabb. In those games, he averaged 358 yards and 2 TDs. His play over those two weeks heightened the Philadelphia QB controversy that had been lurking since he was their second round pick in 2006. His weapons then were plentiful, including LeSean McCoy, DeSean Jackson, Jeremy Maclin and Brent Celek. Regardless of the weapons and fortuitous situation, Kolb played outstandingly well.

Before the 2010 season, McNabb had been traded and Kolb was named the starter. Unfortunately, Kolb suffered a concussion that opened the door for the Michael Vick miracle season. Kolb's saw most of his action last year in five games while Vick was nursing a rib injury. In the first four games of that stint, Kolb had the same elite compliment of weapons that he worked with in 2009. His start in Week 17 was not included as many Eagles regulars were resting for the playoffs. Kolb's overall results for 2010 were not nearly at the level of 2009, yet he still had a 64.3% completion rate and averaged 7.07 yards per pass attempt.

Week Opp Att Comp %Comp PaYds YPA TDs Ints Rsh RuYds TDs
09-2 NO 51 31 60.8% 391 7.67 2 3 0 0 0
09-3 KC 34 24 70.6% 327 9.62 2 0 1 1 1
10-4 WAS 35 22 62.9% 201 5.74 1 1 2 21 0
10-5 SF 31 21 67.7% 253 8.16 1 0 3 17 0
10-6 ATL 29 23 79.3% 326 11.24 3 1 2 1 0
10-7 TEN 48 26 54.2% 231 4.81 1 2 3 18 0

Comparison to Matt Schaub
The situation for the Arizona Cardinals and Kevin Kolb is eerily similar to that of Matt Schaub from five years previous. Yet a closer examination of the two finds Kolb coming out ahead with each comparison. Schaub was drafted in the third round by the Falcons to play behind Michael Vick. Kolb was a second round selection of the Eagles and talked about as an eventual replacement. The Texans gave up second round picks in 2007 and 2008 and swapped their '06 first round selection with Atlanta to get Schaub. The Cardinals gave up a valuable player in Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and a second round pick. Schaub signed a six-year contract for $48 Million, with $7 Million guaranteed. Kolb signed a $63 Million contract with $20 million guaranteed. There is no doubt that the Cardinals were greatly in need of a QB, but their selection of Kolb and commitment to him were evident. Since we have made all these comparisons, how well did Matt Schaub perform in 2007? He finished a rather pedestrian 23rd among fantasy QBs, but that was more due to him playing in only 11 games than it was a condemnation of his performance. He averaged over 200 yards passing per game. What weapons did he have? He had an outstanding principal target in Andre Johnson, but after him, there were only Kevin Walter, Andre Davis, Jacoby Jones, and Owen Daniels. Arizona is providing Kevin Kolb a similar cast, led by Larry Fitzgerald. The others are Chris Wells, Ryan Williams, Andre Roberts, Early Doucet, and Todd Heap. Even the comparison of available weapons is strikingly similar between the two.

What will Arizona do with their new QB?
When Ken Whisenhunt was hired in Arizona, there were expectations that he would build "Pittsburgh West" and develop a dominant defense while running the ball down opponents' throats. Since then, an interesting development is that although the Steelers maintain their dominant defense, their offensive strategy has been modified in recent seasons similar to what is happening all across the NFL. The overview in the next table reveals that the Arizona Cardinals' offensive plan has been relatively stable over the past three years, even after losing a potential Hall of Fame QB in Kurt Warner.

RB Other Total Pass x Total Total
Year Rushes Rushes Rushes Attempts Sacks Passes Plays %Run %Pass
08 306 33 339 628 28 656 995 34.1% 65.9%
09 328 35 363 595 26 621 984 36.9% 63.1%
10 298 21 319 628 50 678 997 34.4% 65.6%

I expect that the increase in the number of passing plays last season was influenced by Arizona's ineffective rushing attack and also because they were trailing their opponents so often. But with the emphasis they placed on identifying and obtaining their QB this summer, I would not anticipate a major shift in the offensive play calling from the past three seasons.

What about Kolb's ADP - will he bring value to your team?
With his current ADP at QB18 and 125 overall, you can be patient and wait rather late to select him. He should offer value when he performs better than a several QBs taken before him. A year ago, Ben Roethlisberger finished as QB18 in FBG scoring with 3,159 yards passing, 17 TDs, 176 rushing yards, and 2 TDs rushing. The convoluted Arizona QB situation last year produced 3,264 yards passing and 10 TDs. Kevin Kolb reaching similar statistics appears like a lock when looking at last season's production by Arizona.


  • Arizona signed two free agent offensive linemen, Floyd Womack and Daryn Colledge which should improve the Cardinals
  • Kolb has a reputation as being QB smart and worked out with Larry Fitzgerald over the summer giving him a heads-up
  • The Cardinals sought his services and rewarded him with their commitment Arizona plays in one of the weakest conference divisions


  • He is moving to a new team and with the extended lockout has a short amount of practice time to figure it out
  • Even though he is a fifth year player, he has limited experience
  • Arizona historically struggles with travel games to the East Coast and has four of those early games this year

Final thoughts

At his current ADP of QB18, Kolb offers outstanding value at a very low and reasonable cost. Only a season ago when he was preparing to start for the Eagles he had an ADP in the top ten. He is still that same player who without the Week One concussion would have proved it a year ago with the Eagles. He has two excellent receivers in Fitzgerald and Heap that will offer him very nice targets. Of all the positions, QB fantasy scoring is probably the most compressed with little separation at the top. Unless you play in large leagues or those which start two QBs, it almost always brings dividends to wait on drafting your QB and maximizing your opportunity to garner depth at other positions. Wait until late this year and grab Kevin Kolb.

Quotations from the message board thread

To view the entire Player Spotlight thread (there's a ton of fantastic commentary in there), click here.

rzrback77 said:

Kevin Kolb is an interesting player to project for 2011. Despite being the focus of trade talks throughout the extended lock-out and going exactly where the main rumor had him going, he is still being drafted at QB 18.

Arizona allowed Steve Breaston to leave and has not added any free agent WRs despite the abundance of rather low cost options. I think that this indicates an approval of some of the young guys already on the roster, such as Andre Roberts who had 9 catches on 20 targets for 133 yards and a TD in their final two games of 2010) or Early Doucet. They did add a nice undervalued TE receiver in Todd Heap.

The biggest question that needs to be answered is whether they are committed to running the ball more going forward. We have heard this ever since Pittsburgh staffer Whisenhunt took over in the desert.

Every year since 2008, the numner of pass attempts has dropped from a high of 628 down to last year's low of 540. However, over that same period their RB rushes have been steady at 306 in 08, then 328 in 09 and down to 298 a year ago.

I think that their overall offensive attack improves in 2011 and both numbers increase, with the greater increase going to the passing.

FUBAR said:

I don't see Kolb as a Top 10 passer, but the potential is there. I just think [rzrback's] yardage and attempts are high. With Fitz and not much else, he'll force the throw too often but also run a fair amount.

Dancing Bear said:

2007 - 32 TD's
2008 - 31 TD's
2009 - 27 TD's
2010 - 10 TD's

So clearly last years abysmal QB play contributed to the downfall in TD's. It is not unreasonable to expect and project an uptick ... Even if you are really conservative in normalizing Kolb's 2010 performance he ends up with 21 TD's.

Kevin Kolb projections

Ryan Sitzmann35558039442414801
Message board consensus329532350423161322