If he had never gotten concussed in the first game of the 2010 season, Kevin Kolb might very well still be the Eagles' starting quarterback. But the dominoes that fell starting with Clay Matthews' tackle of Kolb last September went in several directions, one of which led to Kolb becoming the franchise quarterback of the Arizona Cardinals. When the Eagles sent Kolb to the Cardinals in July in exchange for Pro Bowl cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and a 2012 second-round pick, this Sunday's Eagles-Cardinals matchup all of a sudden became one of the more intriguing games of the season.
But cruelly, Kolb is suffering from a significant turf toe injury and may not be able to quarterback his squad in his return to Philadelphia. Though Kolb is said to be doing everything he can to play, he told Philadelphia reporters that Sunday's game will be memorable regardless of whether or not he gets to suit up.
"It's obviously going to be a unique experience if I'm starting or even if I'm not going," he said. "These guys taught me the game. They're the ones that really made me the quarterback that I am today and from coaches to players, everybody, there are a lot of guys that I came in with that are still on the team. I think it's well documented how much I think about them, but they are our opponent this week and that's the way the focus has to be."
After winning their first game of the season, Kolb and the Cardinals are 2-6, after a win last week over the St. Louis Rams in which Kolb's backup John Skelton was under center. Through seven games, Kolb has thrown for 1,706 yards, eight touchdowns and eight interceptions and a 56.8 completion percentage. They aren't great numbers, nor is the Cardinals' record, but though Kolb admitted the season hasn't gone quite as he planned thus far, he did remain positive about future of a young team who has lost four games by fewer than four points.
"We've had some really tough losses here," he said. "We've been in the game there at the end and it's still no excuse, we're 2-6 and we have to do something about it week in and week out and crawl our way back. I do like the resilience of this team though, nobody points a finger, nobody looks for excuses, everybody steps up and does their job week in and week out and that's what keeps us playing and keeps us in games and able to win last week of course.
"Personally, it's tougher than I thought it would be switching offenses and your whole mindset especially not having the offseason to get used to everything. I'm very glad to be here, but I've had to work
really hard and put my head down and grind through some things, and I'm still grinding through some things. So I look forward to getting back on the field and improving every week."
Arizona, meanwhile, stands in stark contrast to Philadelphia, Kolb said. Aside from the obvious differences in climate, the level of scrutiny in Arizona pales in comparison to the fervent Eagles fanbase and media coverage.
"The media coverage is not quite as extensive as it is there in Philly," said Kolb. "It just seems like where every aspect of the game and practice and injuries in Philly is well documented, here you're kind of behind the scenes. And that's what we talk about sometimes, we want to be one of those teams where you look up and, Oh, shoot, they got 12 wins? They beat these teams? And then all of a sudden we pick somebody off in the playoffs and that's the kind of mentality we have and the kind of team we want to be in the future.
"It's nice to see both sides. You can point it either way. People are passionate, if you're playing well, it's fun to be in Philadelphia. If you're playing well out here, you're probably saying, man, I wish someone would show us some recognition, we're better than people think we are. So they both have their ups and downs and you learn to deal with that."
Kolb was hoping to spend some time in Philadelphia after the Cardinals arrive on Saturday, but because of what Kolb remembered as a "dentist's convention" in Philadelphia, the Cardinals will be staying in nearby Delaware. Still, Kolb will have time before the game to catch up with old teammates and reacquaint himself with the Eagles faithful.
"I think first and foremost is I miss my teammates quite a bit," said Kolb. "I mean, those guys, like I said, I basically grew up at this level in that locker room and it really became home for me and a lot of those guys were there with me. The coaching staff was great, everybody was great to me. Just like it always is, when you get away from something, you realize how much you appreciate it and from the fans to the coaches to the management, it's awesome there. Everybody is. It really did me well and started me off on the right foot."
And while Kolb's former teammates will be happy to see their old friend, there will be no question about motivation on Sunday.
"I'm not really worrying about Kevin too much," said Jason Avant, who has caught his fair share of balls from Kolb over the years. "We're worrying about our business here. As a former teammate, we love him, but that has nothing to do with this game coming up."
Kolb, who has kept close tabs on the Eagles' season to-date, echoed those sentiments.
"I think that everybody knows they have the talent, everybody knows if they put it together it can be like the Cowboys game, it's just a matter of doing it every time and being disciplined," said Kolb. "There's still a long season from here and they can get it turned around. I just hope they don't do it this week."