Maybe the most complimentary comment to make about Kevin Kolb's first training camp as the starting quarterback of the Eagles is that he looked like he had been in that position before. Not once in the 24 days he was at Lehigh University did Kolb flinch under pressure or lose his cool or show a lack of respect to the many, many interview requests he entertained.
Truth is, Kolb enjoyed the entire process. He has aimed to be in this position for years and years. The young man expects greatness, and he is willing to go for it in every way.
On the field, there is no doubt who leads this football team. A young team, lauded by head coach Andy Reid for its energy and dedication to the game, looks to Kolb with respectful eyes. He relates well to them and has gained the trust of his teammates and coaches very quickly during his time as an Eagle.
"Everyone knows what Kevin can do; we saw that last year," said wide receiver DeSean Jackson. "He's been great and we know it's going to get even better."
The focus at the moment is playing Cincinnati on Friday night, and improving upon the things that didn't go as the Eagles hoped last week in the 28-27 win over Jacksonville. Kolb completed 6 of 11 passes, moved the ball well, and put up two field goals and six points in the two full drives he led. It was a promising start, but it wasn't enough.
On Friday night, the emphasis has to be on finishing drives, sticking the ball in the end zone, and playing a great opening two quarters before giving way to the reserves. Yeah, the scheme is still going to be fairly basic, but the demand for execution is going to be there. The Eagles offense wants to build on what it has shown in training camp, and what it started last Friday night.
"You're looking for consistency and we've been pretty good that way," said Kolb. "You don't want to have days when you have everything going right and days when you are making a lot of mistakes. I've been pleased that way. We've gone the last seven, eight, nine days playing offense at a high level. We're on the same page. Everyone is really working hard toward the same goal, so I think we all leave training camp feeling good about that, but also knowing that we have a long road in front of us.
"You can't help but get excited when you see the players we have within the offense. It is a great group of guys. I love playing with all of them."
I have to say, Kolb has said and done all the right things since he moved into the starting role. There hasn't been a whiff of a controversy. He enjoys talking to the media and he provides thoughtful responses to a range of questions. The moment isn't too large for Kolb. It hasn't been since Day one.
He was born to be a starting quarterback in the NFL.
Doesn't it seem that way already?
"It comes naturally for Kevin. It didn't just start when Donovan (McNabb) was traded," said tight end Brent Celek. "Kevin has always had our respect. He works hard and he relates well to the guys and he's just the kind of guy you want to go out there and play for. We never had a doubt that the transition would be natural for him. We saw it in him a long time ago."
The key is to take each step and focus in and make the most of the moment. The Eagles have a tough game on Friday night. The Bengals were a playoff team last year and many think they will contend in the AFC once again. The defense is talented. Kolb and the Eagles are going to be challenged.
There is a temptation for all of us to want to fast forward to September 12 and the opening game of the regular season, but the players don't do that. They have the tunnel vision. They know it makes no sense to look ahead.
Kolb, then, moves into another phase of his ascension. The Eagles return from Cincinnati and continue "training camp," only for the next three weeks the work is done in private at the NovaCare Complex and the intensity cranks up just a bit as the roster is cut down and the opener draws near. Don't expect Kolb to get all bothered by the next steps, though. He is as cool as they come and the Eagles just don't seem like a team in transition, as they were labeled heading into training camp.
It feels natural with Kolb as the starter. It feels right. Kolb is the man, the right person for the job to lead the Eagles into a new generation. Three-plus weeks of watching him, studying him, wondering if he would show any cracks were convincing enough for even the most vociferous doubter.
"Nobody here doubted him," said wide receiver Jeremy Maclin. "Kevin is our guy. He is going to take us places."