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Looking ahead to Eagles of 2011
January 2 Philadelphia Inquirer:
“If the 2011 outlook seems kind of familiar to Eagles fans, that’s understandable. As the new year opens, the big questions looming over the team concern how the Eagles bounce back in the playoffs after a bad late-season loss, who will be back at quarterback, and what will be done to help the offensive line and secondary.
Sound familiar? Many of the same issues hung in the background as 2010 dawned.
Casting a shadow over everything in 2011 is the NFL’s uncertain labor situation. Assuming there is some form of football in the fall, here are the big Eagles issues that will unfold in the coming year:
1. How will this season be remembered?If most fans knew in September that the Eagles would win another NFC East crown and the No. 3 seed in the conference, they would have been thrilled. But expectations are a fickle thing, and they soared as the team won six of seven games following its Oct. 31 bye. If the Eagles crash out in the wild-card round next week, the main reaction will probably be disappointment. But if they win next week, will that be enough for fans to take solace? Or are the Super Bowl hopes now entrenched?”
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January 2 Philadelphia Inquirer columnist Ashley Fox:
As he did to start this unpredictable season 17 weeks ago against Green Bay, Kolb will start for the Eagles at quarterback in the season finale against Dallas at Lincoln Financial Field. But the fourth-year quarterback will be without the toys with which he opened the year. Although head coach Andy Reid would not confirm it on Friday, DeSean Jackson will not play. Neither will LeSean McCoy, Brent Celek, or likely three-fifths of the offensive line.
Kolb will have to fend for himself against the Cowboys’ pass rush. He likely will have Jeremy Maclin until Maclin pulls in 46 receiving yards to reach 1,000 for the season. He will have Jason Avant for a time. And then Kolb will have to make do with a bunch of guys we will not see much of in the postseason.
Can you say Chad Hall?
Fitting, isn’t it?
It must be said that the 26-year-old Kolb has handled his situation this season with as much grace as anyone could expect. In April, he was beaming the day after the Eagles traded Donovan McNabb to Washington, recounting how Reid had called to tell him he was the new franchise quarterback. Kolb had been so patient over three seasons as McNabb’s understudy. He was so proud, so expectant, so ready to begin the next phase of his career.
Throughout minicamps and training camp, Reid never wavered. There was never a hint that Michael Vick could become the starter. There was no quarterback competition, no controversy, no drama, until Green Bay’s ridiculously talented linebacker, Clay Matthews, kicked off his season by chasing Kolb out of the pocket and pounding him into the turf, leaving Kolb with a concussion and a season derailed.
Before Week 3, Reid made an out-of-character flip-flop that defined this season, choosing Vick as his starter and benching Kolb. It was an abrupt move made on a Tuesday, 24 hours after Reid had said Kolb still was his guy.
The starting job has not been Kolb’s since that September day, at least not really, nor should it have been, given the way Vick stepped in and took ownership of the team. Reid was, and remains, right to have given Vick the starting job and to have stuck with Vick after Kolb filled in for three weeks while Vick nursed injured ribs. Vick deserved his Pro Bowl nod. He has been that good, and he is a key reason the Eagles are 10-5 and locked in as the No. 3 seed in the NFC.”
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