The movement began last season. Donovan McNabb was out with a broken rib, and Kevin Kolb was the Eagles' starting quarterback for two games.

While he made some mistakes in a loss to New Orleans, Kolb did some good things. Spread the football around. Got the receivers the ball where they could gain yards after the catch. Moved the team down the field, gaining 391 passing yards, the 12th-highest total in team history.

The next week against Kansas City, Kolb was even more relaxed, more poised, and more accurate.

Then McNabb was back, and it was as if the life got sucked out of the team, according to one player I spoke with Monday. The offense was explosive at times, stagnant at others, and slowly, players began to doubt McNabb and wish for Kolb.

Sunday night, that wish came true when the Eagles announced that they had traded McNabb to Washington. Kolb is the man now. Michael Vick is the backup. And McNabb is a memory.

It's monumental for the Eagles, and certainly scary, because you just don't know how a quarterback will perform until he's given the chance. It's possible Kolb doesn't have the skills to become an elite quarterback. His arm might not be strong enough, his feet not fleet enough.

Replicating McNabb's success won't be easy. McNabb spoiled people with his ability to win and lead the Eagles to the playoffs. If anything, he was a victim of his own success. Plenty of fans would love for their team to be in five NFC championship games, but for Eagles fans, it understandably just wasn't enough.

The Eagles' front office, their coaching staff, and certainly the players believe that Kolb can be that guy, as Brent Celek said, to lead them to the "promised land." On Monday, a parade of players spoke about Kolb's relentless dedication to studying the game, about how he knows what every player on offense is supposed to be doing during every play, about how calm he is making checks at the line of scrimmage, and about what kind of leader he is.

In an instant, Kolb went from the future to the present. He is now the guy. Guard Todd Herremans called having Kolb under center "refreshing."

"The whole locker room is behind him," Herremans said.

That would include all those kids. And why not? Kolb is one of them. The projected starters on offense have an average age of 24. Only three guys on the team are over 30, only three were drafted by the team before 2006, and only two were on the 2004 team that went to the Super Bowl.

These guys are young, and Kolb is their leader.

On his first day as the Eagles' starting quarterback, Kolb got to the NovaCare Complex at 8 a.m. He lifted weights for about 45 minutes, and then walked through the locker room. "It's time to go," he said to DeSean Jackson, Jeremy Maclin, Jason Avant, Celek, and the other pass catchers.

"He just grabbed me and was very excited," Jackson said. "There is a lot of good, positive energy going around our team."

There's something to be said for that.

Kolb grew up in Texas the son of a football coach. He's been in a locker room since he was 6 years old. He knows the game, knows the position, is hungry, and is smart enough to know there are plenty of things he doesn't know and therefore he needs some help.

That's why Kolb said he hopes to talk with Drew Brees. He wants to pick Brees' brain about things like how to prepare his body for the season, how to approach games, and some mechanics of being a starter in this league.

Kolb also is committed to staying in Philadelphia during the off-season. Although he is going back and forth to his home in Fort Worth, Texas - Kolb's wife is due to have their second daughter any minute now - he has been in Philadelphia during the week since March 15.

"Being here and being a part of all these workouts and these minicamps and being here day in and day out, nothing can replace that," Kolb said, a bright green Eagles hat on his head. "That's the one thing that I learned when I first got here is that I never want to lose that. I want to take my time off, and I want to rest, but this is a very important part of the season for me right here."

It is. Team chemistry is built in the off-season. As young as the Eagles are, they'll need every advantage, however small, they can muster.

Like every other quarterback in his first season as a starter, Kolb will need time to adjust, but he has the benefit of having been here for three full years. He's watched, and he's waited, and that will serve him well.

Look at Aaron Rodgers. For three years, he sat behind Brett Favre. As the starter in 2008, Rodgers threw for more than 4,000 yards, but the team finished 6-10. Last year, he topped 4,400 yards, led the Packers to 11 regular-season wins, and then lost to Arizona in a shoot-out in the playoffs.

That's a logical path for Kolb.

If he can build on what he did in two starts last season, maybe Kolb will be better faster than Rodgers. Kolb showed his young teammates in those starts that he could be the guy, and they could be successful with him.

"I saw a confidence boost for him," Maclin said. "I saw he knew where to throw the ball, when to throw the ball, and what receiver to throw the ball to at the right time. That's all you can ask of a quarterback."

And that's why the young guns, as Jackson called the Eagles now, were ready for Kolb.

Ashley Fox:


McNabb deal had plenty of twists and turns. E7.

Ashley Fox: Kolb has the team behind him. E7.