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Kevin Kolb's Philadelphia Eagles Will Be Ready To Fly By Season's End

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"ON THE MARK" WITH MARK ECKELMark Eckel

 

This is how the Philadelphia Eagles are going to open the season Sunday against the Green Bay Packers.kevin kolb lesean mccoy

 

With a quarterback (Kevin Kolb), who has two career starts and could not generate a preseason touchdown.

With a running back (LeSean McCoy), who rushed for 109 yards last year – in the final five games of the season.

With two talented wide receivers (Desean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin), who both took big hits in the preseason and left the field never to be seen again.

With a projected starting offensive line, that will line up for the first time together, Sunday.

And with a fan base that is rolling its eyes, scratching its head and wondering, hey maybe we should have kept Donovan McNabb around for another year just so we could have somebody to blame.

Donovan McNabb is down I-95 in Washington. Brian Westbrook is across the country in San Francisco. The Eagles have 17 new players on the 53-man roster, including 13 rookies.

Carolina, according to NFL records, is the youngest team in the league, but the Eagles are certainly the most different.

“It doesn’t scare me,’’ Eagles head coach Andy Reid said of the roster turnover of more than 30 percent. “I’m looking forward to the challenge and I think the players are looking forward to the challenge.’’

“I’ll tell you, there’s a lot of energy because of the youth. I guess the newness of the group they’ve had a lot of energy going back to the minicamp and on through training camp. I tried to give them a tough training camp and they hustled through that and maintained that energy. That’s refreshing. I enjoy that. I think it’s contagious. So, it’s a good thing.’’

Now, let’s get to the heart of the matter.

The Eagles did what was needed to be done this offseason.

It was time for McNabb to go, although they could have shipped him a little further away than Washington. The same goes for Westbrook.

Sure it’s tough to give up the best quarterback in franchise history and one of top three running backs in franchise history in the same offseason.

Moves like this have to happen in sports eventually.

Westbrook’s knee and ankle injuries combined with a couple of concussions left him a shell of the great player he once was.

McNabb had 11 chances to end the Eagles championship drought and went 0-for-11; all right his rookie year doesn’t count, so he was 0-for-10.

Even his biggest supporters have to face the fact that he was not going to win it all with the Eagles. It just wasn’t going to happen. It might happen in Washington this year, although I doubt it. It might happen in Minnesota next year, although I really doubt it. But it wasn’t going to happen with the Eagles. That well wasn’t just dry, it was abandoned.

So the team, or at least the offense, belongs to Kevin Kolb, with LeSean McCoy as his wingman.

Is Kevin Kolb the answer? I’m not sure, but there are certainly questions.

The kid is a .500 quarterback right now, one win against a bad team, one loss against a good team. And something tells me that by the end of the season he might still be a .500 quarterback.

That end of this season is what really counts, however.

Kolb and the Eagles have to be better in week 17 at home against Dallas than they are in week one at home against Green Bay.

If they are, and there’s a real good chance they will be, then you can call the season somewhat of a success.

The Eagles are young on both sides of the ball. There won’t be a player in the starting lineup Sunday who has reached his 30th birthday.

McCoy celebrated his 22nd birthday last month, two months after starting wide receiver Jeremy Maclin did.

Pro Bowl wide receiver DeSean Jackson is a year older than those two at 23.

Tight end Brent Celek, who reached 25 in January, is the “old man’’ in the group.

Youth is great in a lot of ways. It’s also mistake-prone on a NFL football field.

Kolb, McCoy, even Jackson and Maclin are going to make youthful mistakes, they just are, and it might cost the Eagles a game, or two, early in the season.

What the Eagles have to hope, as head coach Andy Reid preaches, is that they learn from those mistakes and don’t make the same ones, twice.

That’s why it’s important for the team to be better in January than it is in September.

It’s also important for the team to gain some continuity up front on the offensive line as well.

Tackles Jason Peters and Winston Justice have been around from the start, but the interior of the line changes more than a teen-age girls wardrobe on the first day of school.

Left guard Todd Herremans played part of one preseason game -- which was part of one more than center Jamaal Jackson and Sunday’s starting right guard Nick Cole did.

And once newly-acquired Reggie Wells is the starting right guard, he may need some formal introductions to his teammates.

The line, if in stays intact, has a chance to be decent. Not great, but decent by the end of the year.

Which is why the Eagles will look better in week 17 than they will in week one.

Contact Mark Eckel at meckel@njtimes.com

Photo of Kevin Kolb and LeSean McCoy from http://www.zimbio.com