If yesterday was supposed to be the afternoon of great revelation concerning Kevin Kolb and his future as an NFL quarterback, it was as disappointing in that department as it was in most others.
Kolb played well in spots, awfully in others, and found himself in the unfortunate position of being forced to endure nearly an entire half of garbage time, some of which was his fault. But it would be difficult for anyone, football coaches included, to come away from yesterday's 48-22 loss to the Saints with a better idea of whether Kolb will become an established quarterback in this league.
Kolb's performance could be the last bit of information we get for a while, however. If Donovan McNabb is able to return for the Eagles on Sunday against Kansas City, Kolb's next start is scheduled for the game after McNabb retires.
That schedule could change, of course. McNabb might get hurt or benched again. Kolb could be traded, released or merely reach his own retirement age before the next opportunity comes around. He could be supplanted in the backup role by Michael Vick or Jeff Garcia or some kid who is in middle school now.
There's no way to tell, and yesterday's game didn't give much clue as to which way this thing will go. Did the organization come out of the game with more confidence in Kolb than it had going in? After all, he stood out there and looked like a quarterback, threw the ball for 391 yards, and didn't put his helmet on backward or run into the wrong huddle even once. He threw two touchdown passes, one a classic stand-in-the-pocket-hit-the-target dart on a deep slant to DeSean Jackson and the other an improvised, under-pressure creation to Jason Avant.
On the other side of the chart, Kolb couldn't boost the Eagles into the end zone during a pair of red-zone drives in the first half when they might have taken control of the game. He threw an interception early in the second half when it really counted, threw another when the game was pretty much decided, and tossed a Hail Mary turnover after the Eagles didn't have a prayer.
It was a strange game, and it seems those are the only kind that Kolb is invited to join. He was little more than a hall monitor when he took over for McNabb in the opening-game rout in Charlotte and was just raw meat thrown at the Ravens last season in his other extended opportunity.
As happened against Baltimore, when Ed Reed took an interception back 107 yards, Kolb found himself chasing an opponent yesterday who had just picked the keys to the house. This time, it was 97 yards for Darren Sharper, with Kolb making the last, diving attempt to stop him and ending up instead with turf in his face mask.
Someone asked Kolb what he was thinking as he chased Sharper, as he chased another opportunity he would be unable to get back.
"I was thinking, 'Trip him,' " Kolb said. "I knew I wasn't going to catch him, so I thought maybe I could catch his heel. I was just upset at myself for making a terrible throw."
Kolb was tough on himself after the game, and with some reason. The loss was certainly not his fault, but he didn't do as much to prevent it as he might have. In a way, he wasn't even a factor in the game. His play led to just about an equal number of points for both teams.
The Eagles lost because the defense couldn't stop Drew Brees and the New Orleans offense when it had to, because the special teams were awful, and because the team continued its proclivity for dumb penalties.
What will probably stick in Kolb's mind, and maybe in the minds of the coaches, is that when he had the chance to be extraordinary, it just wasn't there. He was just a guy standing out there at the quarterback position not able to make a difference in the end.
"The thing that's frustrating is the trust. [The coaches] trust me with things, and I see them clearly, and then I missed some of the throws," Kolb said. "If I don't turn the ball over like that, the trust grows, the relationship grows, and we move on from there. I just hate putting myself in that hole."
That's where he is, however. He is still "Kevin Kolb, Unproven Backup." Not much more is known about his potential today than was known yesterday morning.
With each day that passes, McNabb is closer to resuming his role as the starting quarterback. Vick is eligible to play now, and Garcia is still hanging around, too. That's 12 Pro Bowl appearances looking over Kolb's shoulder, bearing down on his blind side.
He's a smart kid, so he can feel that pressure coming from behind. There was a chance to get some separation yesterday, but that didn't happen. No great game, no great revelations, nothing more than a lot of running around that left him in exactly the same place he was before.
Read his blog at http://philly.com/postpatterns.