Thursday, February 4, 2010

GM Talk and More

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There is a report that the Eagles have hired Phil Savage as a "Player Personnel Consultant".  This would be a good move.  Phil had a bad run as GM of the Cleveland Browns.  Very little went right for him.  However, I'm convinced that there is something wrong with that franchise.  There is no way that Savage, the various coaches, the various high picks, and big name free agents all failed without there being something systematically wrong.  It almost is like a curse.  Good luck to Holmgren, Heckert, and the boys this year.

Back to Savage.  He was a key member of the Ravens front office when that group built up a Super Bowl winner and strong overall franchise.  Savage has coached, scouted, and been a GM.  He knows football inside-out.  I still think highly of Phil, despite the Browns era.

Why bring him in?  I'm a believer that you want as many good football guys as possible.  Phil fits that description.  He's helped build a Super Bowl team.  He's scouted HOF players.  You don't have his background and success without having some skills when it comes to evaluating players and building a roster.  Adding him isn't a slight at Howie Roseman or the personnel staff we have in place.  Phil comes in here to add his two cents and help out.  He isn't here to run the show.  This is probably just a temp job.  If Savage fits in great maybe he stays around.  We'll see how that goes.  I'm sure Phil is dying to get back with an NFL team. 

Speaking of Roseman...I finally got around to watching the PE.com interviews with him.  I came away very impressed.  He talked about the fact he likes taking scouting trips and will continue to do that as our GM.  He talked repeatedly about the importance of watching tape to evaluate players.  He didn't say it in a canned way.  You can tell he is a tape guy and that makes him legit in my book.  Watching tape to evaluate players is a long, arduous task.  You either love it or you don't.  I do.  Howie does.  You don't casually study some players.  You grind away watching prospect after prospect.  The goal is to whittle 1500-2000 guys down to about 150 players you really like.  Maybe less than that.

I get the feeling Roseman is a more aggressive person than Heckert or Big Red.  We'll see if that is true.  He didn't say one particular thing, but I got that vibe.  Andy is incredibly patient.  Sometimes torturously patient.  I think adding an aggressive personality is a good thing.

Howie did talk about the fact that he and Reid won't always see eye to eye.  He talked about the need for guys having different opinions and how that can be important.  He brought up a key point and said that if he and Reid are stuck in disagreement over a player that likely means the player isn't someone we should be going after.  I like that.

Howie eased one concern of mine.  I wondered about whether he had any connections in the league.  Howie said that he had made trades for us and had worked the phones in the last couple of years.  Heckert really showed him the ropes and taught him how all of that was done.  Excellent.  Tom was a master at gathering information and having a strong read on what the other 31 teams were doing.  Let's hope Howie learned well. 


ROCKET MAN

There has been talk on here and throughout Eagles fandom about whether Kevin Kolb's arm is strong enough to be a starting NFL QB.  His arm is just fine.

Donovan has a rocket arm.  He can throw the ball probably 65 yards with ease.  He can throw lasers to the sidelines.  He can throw through cold, windy days at the Meadowlands.

Kevin's arm strength pales in comparison to that.  The ball does not explode out of his hand. Kevin has a quick release and throws accurate passes.  Watch the highlights from the KC game.  Kevin fits a ball in tight coverage to DeSean on a slant route.  Kevin's quick release and accurate throw got that pass in better than Donovan's rocket would have.  Watch the TD to Celek.  Kevin anticipates him coming open and puts the ball on him even though a defender is near.  Those are quality NFL throws.

There will be limitations.  Kevin can't throw to the sidelines as well as Donovan.  That is something we mixed in on a lot of drives late in the half.  As for throwing downfield...I'm not sure exactly what to expect.  Donovan was off target with most of his deep throws this year.  I'm talking about passes where the guy catches the ball 40 or more yards downfield.  Donovan would underthrow guys and rely on the receivers to slow down and adjust.  He also overthrew some guys.  Nothing can be done on those plays.

Donovan had several TDs where he threw the ball 30-39 yards downfield and the WR ran it in for a score.  Kevin can make those throws.  Getting the ball 30 or so yards downfield isn't that hard.  I think people have this notion that Donnie was hitting DeSean with 50 yard bombs all year long.  Not so.  They were 35 yard bombs that DeSean ran the rest of the way.  Big, big difference.

Games in windy conditions are my biggest fear.  Eli Manning has struggled in some games at the Meadowlands.  He wasn't able to force the ball through the wind and down the field, even on some intermediate routes.  That hurt the Giants offense and gave us a leg up.  Kevin's arm is much closer to Eli's than Donovan's.  It is possible that Kevin could struggle in that kind of a setting.  The Giants are moving to a new stadium.  None of us has any idea whether wind will be an issue or not.  The Meadowlands was the one stadium around the league that consistently had wind issues.  

If Kevin had a great arm he would  not have lasted to the 2nd round.  He would have likely been a Top 20 pick.  He's got just about everything you want in an starting QB.  Kevin started for 4 years.  He won more than he lost.  He was accurate and productive.  He was a leader.  He's got at least average mobility.  The big knock is that he lacks a great arm.  That's okay with me.  I've seen plenty of guys who were just the opposite.  They didn't have the whole package, but they could throw rockets.  Michael Bishop made one of the greatest throws I've ever seen while he was at Kansas State.  Here's the play:  Kolb could try to do that for 10 years and never come close.  The Pats tried for a couple of years to develop Bishop because of his great potential, but couldn't do it.  The cannon arm and athletic ability were all that he had.  There were no real QB skills. 

People love to say that defenses will adjust to Kolb's lack of arm strength and they'll shut us down.  You mean we might get shut out in a game with the division title on the line?  Oh god, cut him and go get me a guy with a great arm so that never happens.

A good QB is on time and on target with his passes.  Kevin can do both things.  He would be working with outstanding weapons.  DJax, Mac, Shady, and Celek can all make plays.  That Avant guy isn't too bad either.  All Kevin has to do is get them the ball.  If he gets the job in 2010 I fully expect the offense to score plenty of points and move the ball regularly.
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16 comments:

uncrulz10 said...

Tommy- Is there anything Kevin can do to increase his arm strength to make those deep throws (40+ in the air)? The deep bomb is such a deflator and we've become so accostomed to it, will be weird not seeing it as often.

Dan said...

Seems like people are making WAY too big of a deal about Kolb's arm strength. He doesn't have the cannon that McNabb does. So what? He has proven that he has the ability to make all the throws required of a starting-caliber NFL QB.

Look at Manning or Brees. Are they great QBs because they have strong arms? No, they are great QBs because they throw receivers open and make smart, accurate passes.

Tommy Lawlor said...

The biggest thing for Kevin is working on his lower body. That is where a lot of power comes from, both for pitchers and QBs. Good footwork and leg drive can help a QB get the ball downfield.

Håkan said...

I dont understand this infatuation with Kolb.
When Donovan was hurt this year, Kolb nearly killed our entire receiving corps by throwing those "catch-this-while-youre-getting-hit-by-a-truck"-passes that McNabb always is kind enough not to throw.

If Kolb had played two more games both Desean and Maclin would have been out for the season. Shellshocked by opposing DB's. Im glad we got lucky while he was in there and noone got seriously hurt...

Cliff said...

I think our offense would be served well if we focused less on the deep ball.

Dominic said...

I definitely agree with Cliff that our offense could benefit from an increased emphasis on shorter passes, regardless of whether Kolb or McNabb is our QB. I think much of McNabb's holding the ball too long problem is attributable to playcalling. When the playcalling has tended towards getting the ball out quick (like the end of 08 and end of 03), McNabb has played really well. This might even make the deep ball more effective.

Tommy, I have to disagree on your point that most of Donnie's bomb touchdowns were in the 30-39 yard range.

Espn says that he was much better on passes over 41 yards than he was on passes between 30 - 39 yards (although I don't know how reliable this stat is):

http://sports.espn.go.com/nfl/players/splits?playerId=1753

My memory also tends to think this way to:
The two bombs to Maclin
Bomb to DJax in Chi
Bomb to DJax in NYG game 2
Bomb to Djax in Oakland

rick said...

Noted columnist Reuben Frank has a good piece I saw on PE.com essentially agreeing with you Tommy that it's time to make the QB change.

http://www.phillyburbs.com/news/news_details/article/131/2010/january/31/turning-the-page-1.html

One thing I didn't realize is: "McNabb has started 164 games for the Eagles and has never managed consecutive games in which he's completed 60 percent of his passes, thrown multiple touchdown passes and passed for at least 325 yards. Kolb started two games as an Eagle and did it both times. He's the first Eagle since Ron Jaworski in 1982 with consecutive games of 60 percent accuracy, two or more TDs and 325 or more yards."

Wow!

Edward said...

@ Dominic

Those stats aren't based on how far the ball was thrown but how far the play went in the end. He did throw some good long passes but think through D Jax's long td's. So many of them involved him turning around and slowing down to catch it then turning round and racing up the field. Kolb would probably have to put more loft on some of those throws if he times it right he can still hit the reciever in stride. I don't have an issues with his arm strenth, the stats rick posted above (pretty interesting!) speak for themselves.

Prem Prakash said...

I agree with Cliff that we'd be better served relying less on the long ball, but I agree even more with Hakan's question about the infatuation with Kolb. The guy has started 2 games in the NFL. I just can't get psyched about anyone with such a limited amount of playtime. Putting him behind center would be a crapshoot. Perhaps you could argue the odds are good, but it's definitely a gamble.

And, I'll beat my dead horse one more time -- drafting Kolb was the wrong move at the wrong time. If we needed someone to hold the clipboard, or in case McNabb didn't come back from his injuries, we would have been fine with Garcia or AJ for a year. Then it would have become clear we needed a new qb. If Reid was enthralled enough with Kolb to use that pick, when we had other more immediate needs, McNabb shouldn't have had his contract re-written and Kevin should be playing by now. We shouldn't even be having this discussion. I know, I know it's a done deal, but it's near the top of my Top 10 Things Andy Reid Has Done That Have Driven Me Nuts list.

Myron said...

Another thing that I forgot to mention that I was concerned about was what "Hakan" there said.

Just as McNabb is more reliant on the deep bombs and the sideline passes, Kolb is more reliant on fitting the ball into crossing routes mid-field. And of course, our WRs are small guys, and eventually they will get hit, and hit hard, on these crossing routes. Do you guys remember the second Redskins game when DeSean was smacked senseless by London Fletcher and subsequently had to sit out the next game? How much more often will occasions like that come up when Kolb is throwing 90% of his passes to guys in full view of the opposing team's LB corps?

Cliff said...

The current wave of infatuation for Kolb is very similar to the huge jones fans formed for AJ Feeley not too long ago. That episode turned me off from posting on the EMB because every other thread was a "AJ should start over McNabb" thread. Obviously the circumstances have changed to make trading McNabb more likely, but the lovefest is the same, just different player.

Prem, I understand your point about the Kolb pick. However, what does it hurt now? I guess one can argue that we could have used that pick on a player who would be contributing now, but we did get Stewart Bradley out of the deal, right? He's our starting MLB.

We know Dallas used our pick to draft Spencer, who we probably would not have selected. What player would we have drafted with that pick who would provide more impact now than Bradley has/will and Kolb might? The only 1st rounder in 2007 that fits that requirement would be Greg Olsen, and is he really that much better than Celek?

So, I understand your point, but I'm not in agreement that it was dumb. Reid really followed Kolb for several years. I'd rather see Reid make a confident pick like that than make a toss-up. Now, re-signing McNabb for 3 more seasons...

Stephen said...

I think especially with quarterback that there is no "wrong time" to draft one that could be good. Its just too difficult to find franchise type players at that position to say lets wait until we absolutely need one to pick one.

Take a look at teams that are perennially struggling with the position because their high draft choices were busts. The Texans had to bring in Schaub, the Lions had to go patchwork because of Joey Harrington failing. Cleveland can't seem to find anyone. Miami was a mess for a while. Oakland finally found a little stability with a 6th round castoff from another team.

If you think you've got a winner at QB you better go get him unless you've got a young franchise guy. Mcnabb was no longer a young franchise guy when they went and picked Kolb, at least it was plausible to think he might not make it more than another 4 or 5 yards at most in Philly. Thats plenty of time to bring another guy in and get him acclimated to the pros, and try to have a seamless transition.

I think the biggest gripe most people have is how high of a pick we used, but honestly now you can't try and mine for gold in the 5th and 6th rounds for franchise QB's as your primary backup plan. Sometimes you catch lightning in a bottle like Tom Brady, but more often than not they're recognizable college guys who fall off the map after a couple of years in the league. Hell enough of the high round draft pick QB's wash out to still make it a tricky proposition.

I also don't think you can have the fearful attitude of "we can't do what we feel is in the best interest of the team because we're afraid one of our players will get his panties in a bunch". You need to go out and actively improve your team in all areas, and depth at QB is no exception.

Prem Prakash said...

I agree with much of what you say, Cliff and Stephen. My problem is that if Reid was so high on Kolb in 2007, then Kevin should be our qb. He has had time to learn the system. Commit to the man. If the guy was picked to be the franchise qb, then make him one. He is sure to have strengths and weaknesses -- arm stregnth, etc. -- but deal with them.

I doubt it has anything to do with anyone's undies in a knot, I believe in Reid's professionalism more than that. The longer McNabb is the starter, though, the more the use of the high pick on Kolb seems unproductive. If he was playing, successfully or not, that would be one thing. But if one believes he is truly that talented, having him on the sideline isn't a good use of a quality player.

This whole discussion indicates to me a question of vision as to which direction the team should go. McNabb and Kolb bring very different things to the table. Maybe Andy has a clearer idea then I do based on my view from the stands. I am reminded, however, of Mr. Miyagi's warning to Daniel-son in the movie, "Karate Kid." He cautioned the boy about the danger of lack of commitment. He said soemthing like, "Do it or don't do it, be on one side of the street or the other, walking in the middle of the street will get you killed."

Dominic said...

@Edward

I don't think the stats have to do with the end result of the play (just look at the "long"), it couldn't be the case if that was the end result. Also, I think part of the advantage with McNabb is that the coverage played on Djax. Defenses tend to play with a deep safety and the only way to beat that safety deep is by dragging Djax across the field about 50 or 60 yards deep (ala Chi and NYG games). That's a pretty tough throw to make unless you have a big arm.

@Rick

Those stats are what I call ESPN stats...making them up just to make someone look unique. You want know how many times Tom Brady has done it in his career. Twice. Not a useful stat at all.

http://www.pro-football-reference.com/players/B/BradTo00/gamelog/

rick said...

Dominic - Good point. I'm not really a "stat guy" and it WAS a strangely arbitrary category, i.e. 325 yds. I was focused mainly on completion percentage - I see from your link that lifetime Donovan is @59% and Brady is @63.

Dominic said...

@Rick

I completely agree, thats why I used Brady as comp. Brady is without a doubt a better qb than McNabb, but he still has only two of those streaks.

Certainly, those games do tell us that Kolb is better than some scrub, but how much better is the big question.