As the summer rolls on and New York Giants training camp still seems like a distant wish I figured it was time to begin checking in on some of Big Blue's NFC East rivals.
Below, I have five questions with JasonB from SB Nation's terrific Philadelphia Eagles blog, Bleeding Green Nation. Enjoy!
BBV: Your feelings about Donovan McNabb no longer being an Eagle? Was it time for Philadelphia and McNabb to part ways, or do you believe this will end up being a move Philly regrets?
BGN: I think we all realized it was time for a change after the two Dallas games. The team had made a lot of changes in the last few years, but the McNabb/Reid combo was always constant over the past decade so that's where the change really needed to come. I think a lot of fans would have been ok if they chose to change the coach, but getting rid of the franchise QB is almost an equally significant change. It's not that anyone thinks McNabb isn't a good QB, but it's been 10 years of the same thing here. He wasn't the only reason the Eagles got whacked by Dallas twice, but he certainly did nothing to turn their fortunes in those games. When you combine his age with the fact that the offense arguably played better under Kolb when McNabb was hurt... We were ready for a change.
Someone reminded me the other day that except for Mike McMahon, every QB who took over for McNabb when he got injured was successful. Koy Detmer had a big game. AJ Feeley got the team to the postseason. Jeff Garcia won a playoff game. Kevin Kolb had two 300+ yard days... So there's not a ton of fear that someone else can step in at QB and be successful.
BBV: The second part of that question is how do you feel about Kevin Kolb? Is he ready to lead Philly deep into the playoffs? Do you think they will take a step back offensively as he develops?
BGN: Well the easy answer is that it's hard to say given how little film we have on him... but I think after his two starts last year everyone feels a lot better. We actually got to see him start and play well. In those games you saw some of the flaws of a young QB, but we also saw the things that he can bring to the offense that McNabb didn't. He's very accurate and has a quick release, both of which will serve him well in this offense.
Obviously the coaches love him, scouts really like the guy, the young WRs seemed giddy when the Eagles made him the starter... So for now there's a real positive feeling around Kolb. He's been sitting on the bench learning for 3 years, so while there will certainly be growing pains he shouldn't have a huge learning curve as he adjusts to being a starter. He's got so many weapons and talent on offense I don't think we should expect steps back.
BBV: What are your thoughts on Michael Vick
? Is he more trouble to the Eagles than he is worth as a backup quarterback at this point?
BGN: First, he's not any trouble to the team. The team loves the guy. In fact, your team loves the guy. I remember Osi Umenyoria talking about how proud he was of the Eagles for giving Vick another chance. Players, for whatever reason, love Michael Vick.
Now as far as his actual impact on the field... that's another story. Obviously last year his impact was minimal, but he had virtually no offseason and never really looked in great shape. This season he'll be much more fit, he'll know the offense better, and be in a much better position to be successful. That said, I still question the value of pulling your starting QB out to put in someone else. People called it the "wildcat" last year, but that's not really what it was. They really just replaced the QB with another QB. If Kevin Kolb develops like we all hope and turns into this accurate rhythm passer, I really would not rather he be pulled out of the game from time to time to put in Michael Vick.
BBV: As training camp approaches, what Eagles player or players not named Kevin Kolb are you most curious about watching?
BGN: For me it's middle linebacker Stewart Bradley. There's other guys that are question marks and there's young players that will need to contribute, but I think Bradley is really the key to the defense. When he was in the lineup and playing well in 2008 the Eagles defense was one of the best in the NFL. They were especially effective against the run. But last year, when he was lost in training camp the dropoff was obvious. The whole Eagles defense was badly hit by injury, but Bradleys' probably had the most impact. So I'll definitely have an eye on him to see how he looks in camp this year.
BBV: From an Eagles' perspective, can you assess the New York Giants heading into the 2010 season?
BGN: I think the Giants will be a good team. I don't really see any major questions on offense, the only questions you might have are on defense but if everyone stays healthy that unit should be fine as well. The weakness of the team for me is at linebacker, but if the rest of the defense plays up to its capability the linebackers should be good enough.