The main focus this week will surely be on how poorly Kevin Kolb played and how much better the offense was with Michael Vick under center. That is legit when your starting QB goes 5 for 10 for 24 yards in a half and has three passes that probably should have been intercepted. And then the backup moves the ball and scores in the 2nd half. Just skimming box scores from 2000 to 2009 last night, I could only find about four halves in McNabb's career where he may have thrown for less than 25 yards and didn't leave injured or get pulled when they were way ahead. But there are other things to worry about as well:
1. The offensive line. Andy Reid did Kevin Kolb no favors by putting him behind this O-line. Let's face it Jason Peters looks more like an average-at-best Left Tackle these days, than a pro bowler. And without Jamaal Jackson, the rest of the line is pretty mediocre and out of sync. But this is the same line McNabb played behind last year for the most part. Did they get that much worse overnight? Or is it that the combination of an less experienced immobile QB behind this line against a pretty good defense is a recipe for disaster? They've invested a whole lot of bad money in Peters and the Andrews Sisters the last 2-3 seasons.
2. Running game. Complaining about the running game under Andy Reid is sort of like complaining and death and taxes, yet we still do it. But it looks like it will be especially important this year with Kolb and this O-line. It'd be a nice for a less experienced QB to have a consistent running game to fall back on when he starts a game off like he did yesterday. LeSean McCoy isn't a workhorse back and without Weaver now, their power running game will be nonexistent.
3. How the whole offensive fits together, especially without Leonard Weaver. I think the combination of this O-line, with this QB and WRs and pass-happy philosophy is just an overall bad fit together. For all of McNabb's faults, his arm strength, mobility, and experience helped cover up these problems the last 2 years. First, without Westbrook and now Weaver, they don't seem to have another RB they trust to pick up the blitz. I assume that's why Eldra Buckley played so much yesterday in the 2nd half.
Of course the problem of not having a solid FB like Weaver would be alleviated a little if they had a backup TE who was bigger and known for his blocking. Then they could use a lot of double TE to compensate. McCoy is good for a pop here and there, but he's not a 20-carry-a-game, move-the-chains kind of running back. Their running game/balance worked down the stretch last year when they were mixing up Weaver and McCoy and in many games Weaver had more carries.
Also, if the O-line is shaky like it was Sunday, the TEs and RBs need to stay in more to block. That takes Celek out of the passing game too often. So then when Kolb has to go down the field, it is to the small receivers who can't really go over the middle. And he may not always have the needed arm strength to get ball to DeSean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin on those 15-20 yard out patterns near sideline or on deep balls. Also if you can't pass protect consistently then that takes away the home run ball to Jackson as we found in last 2 games vs Dallas last year….a good pass rush takes him out of the game basically, since he rarely goes short over the middle. There are just lots of little things that affect one another in this offense and the scheme doesn't always fit the personnel. Last year they lost to just about every good team they played. And unfortunately, the schedule is tougher this year.
4. Right Cornerback. Asante Samuel may not get too many INT opportunities this year if teams keep picking on Ellis Hobbs like they did on Sunday. I still will never understand trading Sheldon Brown for a middle round pick who may, may help them in a few years, when he was probably the 2nd best all-around player on the defense last year behind Trent Cole. And in a year with no cap, they could have given him the bump in salary he wanted to keep him around another few years without breaking the bank. Or did Brown punch his own ticket out of here for openly criticizing the play of the 3 horrible free safeties (all of whom, by the way, are also gone) behind him last year? Nevertheless, Hobbs appears to be a clear downgrade from Brown. It's still pretty amazing the Patriots went 18-1 a few years ago with a CB tandem of Samuel and Hobbs - 2 guys who don't hit anybody, and 1 who apparently can't cover anybody decent either. I guess it helps when you have a record-breaking offense.
5. The special teams. This unit was supposed to be much improved with the addition of Bobby April in the off-season. But the kickoff coverage was spotty and their kick return units rarely if ever brought the ball back past the 25 yard line. The Packers had great field position all day. Ellis Hobbs just seems to get the kickoff and run straight ahead until he gets hit and then goes right down. If McCoy is only going to get like 15 touches a game on offense anyway and can't be trusted to play when he has to pickup the blitz, what are they saving him for? He seems destined to be more like David Meggett or Darren Sproles than Brian Westbrook. So they might as well stick him back there to return kicks.
Bonus concern: If Stewart Bradley will miss any time with his concussion, Omar Gaither is a huge drop off at MLB. The Packers scored 3 points yesterday with Bradley on the field and 24 points with him out of the lineup. And in the 2nd half backup running back Brandon Jackson had gaping holes to run through. Maybe Bradley's improved play is what made Bunkley and Patterson seem better than they really were the last half of 2008.