Eagles fans don't mind making judgments on scant evidence, as Donovan McNabb undoubtedly could tell Kevin Kolb, if they ever discussed the matter.
There seems to be a contingent that has decided, on the basis of the second half of the Baltimore disaster, 4 minutes of mopup work against Arizona, and 9 minutes of the same Monday night against Cleveland, that Kolb is not the Eagles' quarterback of the near or even the distant future.
Kolb said yesterday he hadn't noticed, which is too bad, because it spoils the hypothetical scene of the backup complaining to McNabb about such treatment, and McNabb replying, "Yo, dude, tell me about it - the day I was drafted, an entire busload of 'em came up to New York just to boo when I was picked!!!"
But of course, Donovan probably doesn't even remember that.
Anyhow, Kolb (17-for-34, 144 yards, no touchdowns, four interceptions) said yesterday: "I don't look at message boards or listen to anything else. I'm not worried about what they say, I'm worried about what the coaches say, what they think, and what I believe. I know my shot'll come, and when it does, they'll see the true me."
Three weeks ago, much of Eagles Nation seemed to think it would see the true Kolb finishing out this season, and leading the Eagles into 2009. It's still interesting to ponder whether something better than 10-for-23 for 73 yards and two interceptions in that second half in Baltimore Nov. 23 would have kept Kolb in the lineup, and forestalled the McNabb resurrection.
But Andy Reid did go back to McNabb, the very next day, and now, Kolb might be looking at another year of apprenticeship. His two appearances since Baltimore haven't exactly helped make the case for change, even if it is unfair to judge on snippets of games, played with other backups, in lopsided situations. For example, running back Kyle Eckel missed a blitz pickup and Kolb was hit as he released the ball Brandon McDonald picked off for a touchdown Monday night. Nobody around the team seriously blames Kolb for that.
"I told him during the game, 'Keep plugging away. It's an unfortunate situation to be in, but it's going to make you a better football player,' " said third quarterback A.J. Feeley, who has endured most of the ups and downs of QB life. "Everybody goes through it. It's been kind of unfortunate, last game with getting hit, and having an outcome like that. But as a quarterback, you can't worry about that. You can't control everybody else on the field. You control your play, you know? You don't want him to change the way he approaches the game, his confidence, or how he views himself as quarterback."
Brian Westbrook said he's been meaning to check in with Kolb.
"I definitely want to talk to him and let him know we still continue to have faith in him," Westbrook said. "When you go in at the end of the game, it's a weird position. You're not really a starter, you've been sitting on the bench most of the game. It's a different position for him. I'm sure that he hasn't lost any confidence in the locker room, and hopefully he hasn't lost any confidence in himself."
On the outside
Somebody pointed out to Lito Sheppard that when asked about the Eagles' defense yesterday, he said, "These guys are playing great," as if he were an outsider.
"If I were out there playing and contributing, it would be 'we,' " said Sheppard, who has found himself on the bench the past few weeks, since Joselio Hanson was elevated to the nickel corner role.
Sheppard razzed Hanson Monday night, when Hanson dropped an interception.
"I said, 'You see all that grass in front of you? You're supposed to be running in it,' " Sheppard said.
A few weeks back, Sheppard acknowledged that his changed situation this season had affected his play. He didn't get the trade he sought, and was supplanted as the starting left corner by free agent signee Asante Samuel.
"I don't think I could have done anything differently," Sheppard said, when asked if he'd had any second thoughts about the course he pursued. "Things happen for a reason."
Running back Brian Westbrook and defensive end Trent Cole are second alternates for the Pro Bowl, a source close to the situation confirmed. *