Under Pressure: Can Kevin Kolb justify the Cardinals' trade?
Who's facing the most pressure this weekend? Kevin Kolb tops the list by virtue of him facing his old team, the Eagles, for the first time since Philadelphia dealt him to Arizona.
|Kevin Kolb could redeem himself on Sunday. (Getty Images)|
Eagles-Cardinals isn't the Game of the Week in terms of the flashiest offenses in the NFL; one could even argue Arizona's looked better than Philadelphia's. But it's definitely one of the premier games on the docket in Week 3 because of the immense amount of scrutiny that Cards quarterback Kevin Kolb will face, both before and after.
Arizona's decision to trade for Kolb immediately after last year's lockout was bold, especially since the Cardinals gave up a second-round pick and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie to acquire the quarterback. Since then, Kolb has started 10 games, completed 58 percent of his passes, thrown 11 touchdowns, eight interceptions and logged a 4-6 record as a starting QB. An inauspicious run in Arizona to say the least.
On Sunday, he won't have an opportunity to fully justify Arizona's decision to pull the trigger on the trade (that ship has sailed). But he will have an opportunity to make people reconsider the amount of wool that Philadelphia pulled over the Cards' heads with the deal.
Kolb will also be given the chance, by winning or at least not looking terrible in a close loss, to re-secure his gig as the starting quarterback in the desert. John Skelton is injured, which means Kolb will keep getting run. But there's no reason to believe Ken Whisenhunt won't bail on Kolb if he struggles. He will bail quickly.
With both revenge and job security on the line, it's hard to fathom that anyone has more pressure on them this weekend than Kolb.
Kolb isn't the only quarterback feeling the squeeze this weekend, though. After Mark Sanchez lit up the Bills in Week 1, the world collectively decided how silly all the Tim Tebow talk was during the offseason. Thank goodness we didn't waste a whole summer on that! Then the Sanchize laid an egg against the Steelers, and it was a bad egg.
Sanchez was 10-for-27 for 138 yards and a touchdown, which works out to 5.11 yards per passing attempt. If he'd done that in Week 1, you wouldn't have been able to turn on your television for a week without being further inundated on the matter of Tebow possibly taking over. The performance was slightly glossed over because it was against the Steelers, it was on the road and Week 1 made up for it.
If something similar happens against the Dolphins, though? All bets are off. Miami's at least dangerous, too. They embarrassed the Raiders in South Beach. And the last time we saw Sanchez playing down there was Week 17 of 2011, which you might remember as the time Santonio Holmes publicly quit on his team and his quarterback. 1-2 isn't the end of the world. Teams come back from starts like that frequently. But 1-2 with back-to-back bad performances, a loss to the Dolphins and Ryan Tannehill and another Sanchez egg and you can bet your church offering that the week ahead will be brutal for the Jets, for Sanchez and for anyone with a limited offering of sports television.
Chris Johnson continues to state he doesn't want to point fingers at a particular problem in Tennessee with respect to the rushing game. And then he immediately points fingers to the problem (hint: it's not him). Let me point you to something, Mr. CJ?K -- Jake Locker is your team's leading rusher. Yes, Jake Locker with four rushing attempts for 32 yards through two weeks. That Jake Locker. I pinned much of the blame for Johnson's struggles against New England on his offensive line. They are bad and not doing him any favors.
But he has to hit the holes, he's got to try and pick up the extra yards and he has to act like he didn't get paid a multi-million-dollar deal and then just quit giving a crap. Because it's starting to look like that. Now Tennessee gets the Lions and risks falling to 0-3 and, depending on the outcome of the Colts-Jaguars game, hanging out in the AFC South basement alone. That's a sad, dark and uncomfortable place, not unlike the back of a Volkswagen. Locker's got to be better, the line has to block better, but Johnson has to step up and be old-school CJ, or else the Titans are simply going to have to replace him. Maybe they could just put Locker in the backfield with Matt Hasselbeck under center.
I know the Saints suffer from a dearth of talent on the defensive end, but Steve Spagnuolo needs to be extremely concerned with the Chiefs coming to town. Not because the Chiefs are good, mind you. They're not. (In fact, they're quite terrible.) But the Redskins and Panthers shredded Spags' defense the first two weeks -- both Robert Griffin III and Cam Newton averaged over 12 yards per attempt -- and then those two offenses went out and posted an 0-3 record against the rest of the NFL.
Should the 0-2 Chiefs come into New Orleans and hang a pile of points on the Saints, things are going to get ugly quickly in the Bayou. Drew Brees can save them from an 0-3 start by virtue of being good at putting up numbers, but there's a concern with his decision-making. That normally would be mitigated by a semblance of defense. But through two games, we haven't seen anything to indicate New Orleans being able to stop the ball in any form or fashion. With an explosive core of Dwayne Bowe, Jamaal Charles and Dexter McCluster, the Chiefs are capable of scoring and not just when they're down a lot of points and the other team has stopped caring.
Should they blow up the Saints spot, there's going to be a firm amount of pressure applied to New Orleans on the defensive end of things.
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