Evaluating Buffalo Bills Quarterback Kevin Kolb Through the Years

2010 Philadelphia Eagles

Kevin Kolb got his first opportunity to enter the season as the starting quarterback. However, he could not get through the first game without injury, suffering a concussion versus the Green Bay Packers. He was sidelined until Week 4 as a result. He did not start again until week 5, and finished the season with only five starts.

In Kolb’s absence from the starting lineup, backup quarterback Michael Vick put together a Pro Bowl season. If Vick did not suffer a rib injury, Kolb may have never returned to the starting lineup. Kolb started in Weeks 5-7 and the Eagles went 2-1 in those starts, and he also starte din a Week 17 loss to the Dallas Cowboys.

Vick started the lone playoff game for the season. Vick overwhelmingly outplayed Kolb, and both the stat sheet and win/loss record back it up. The Eagles were 2-3 in Kolb’s starts but were 8-3 in games started by Vick. Kolb had a passer rating below 57 in three of his starts, while Vick had a 100.2 rating for the season with 3,018 yards passing, 21 touchdowns and 6 interceptions.  Guiding the same personnel, Kolb carried a 76.1 rating while passing for 1,197 yards with seven touchdowns and seven interceptions.

This was not the season Kolb had in mind after entering the season as the starter. Vick’s emergence prompted the Eagles to trade Kolb to the Arizona Cardinals in exchange for cornerback Dominique Rogers-Cromartie and a second-round draft pick.

2011 Arizona Cardinals

Kevin Kolb was given a five-year, $64 million contract with $20 million guaranteed, and was once again given the chance to prove himself as a starter in the NFL.

Kolb’s Cardinal career began with a win over the Carolina Panthers in which he threw for 309 yards and two touchdowns to finish with a passer rating of 130. Following his Week 1 success, however, Kolb was wildly inconsistent and the Cardinals lost six consecutive games. Kolb had a passer rating less than 70 in four of next six games.

Kolb suffered a toe injury in Week 7 and was out for the next four games. In Kolb’s absence, the Cardinals won three of the next four games with John Skelton at quarterback.

Kolb returned to start Week 13 and the Cardinals defeated the Dallas Cowboys, but in Week 14, Kolb suffered a head injury on the first drive of the game and he missed the rest of the season. The Cardinals would again go on to win three of the next four games in Kolb’s absence.

Kolb had an 81.1 passer rating for the season and threw for 1,955 yards with 9 touchdowns and 8 interceptions. The most disturbing takeaway is that the Cardinals were 2-6 in games with Kolb at quarterback, and 6-2 in games without him. Between 2010 and 2011, Kolb’s teams were 4-9 with him as the quarterback and 14-5 in games without him.

2012 Arizona Cardinals 

Skelton beat out Kolb in camp to be the team’s starting quarterback heading into the 2012 season. Skelton was injured in the fourth quarter of their Week 1 matchup versus the Seattle Seahawks, and Kolb entered the game to lead a come-from-behind victory.. Kolb played well in the following four weeks and Cardinals won three out of four games in Weeks 2-5. In Week 6 against the Bills, however, Kolb suffered a season-ending rib injury. The Cardinals were 3-2 in games started by Kolb.

Kolb finished the season with an 86.1 passer rating, while throwing for 1,169 yards with eight touchdowns and three interceptions. Nonetheless, he was released just 20 months after signing his lucrative five-year deal, hours before he was due to receive a $2 million roster bonus.

What Can Bills Fans Expect in 2013

If past history is any indicator, Kolb can be counted on to be an inconsistent, injury-prone performer. The Bills signed him to an incentive-laden two-year contract, which is perfect for what they are looking for out of him.

In addition to his inconsistent play, it remains concerning that Kolb’s teams often fared better without him as the quarterback. Additionally, on two different occasions, he has been given the chance to be a team’s starting quarterback and both times he quickly relinquished that role to another player.

What Kolb does bring to the table is experience, something that is in short supply in the Bills’ quarterback and wide receiver rooms. This experience may be enough reason to hand Kolb the starting job until EJ Manuel is absolutely ready to be the team’s starter.

The release of Tarvaris Jackson has to be some indicator of what the Bills have seen thus far in Manuel. Releasing Jackson puts Manuel in a two-man race to be the starter and shows that they have some degree of confidence in Manuel being able to step in and play.

All things considered, Kolb is coming off his best statistical season in 2012, and also had his first season in which he won more games than he lost as a starter. He may just be the perfect player at the right time to usher in the EJ Manuel era in Buffalo.

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Tags: Arizona Cardinals, Houston, Kevin Kolb, Philadelphia Eagles, Quarterback Competition, Quarterbacks

One Response to “Evaluating Buffalo Bills Quarterback Kevin Kolb Through the Years”

  1. Glenn says:

    Nice work Joe! a very comprehensive look at Kolb’s career.

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