Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

08 Apr 2013

Mandatory Monday: The Kolb Delusion

Kevin Kolb to Buffalo, Carson Palmer to Arizona, Matt Flynn to Seattle, Ryan Fitzpatrick to Tennessee, swing your partner round and round. What I want to know is: what did Drew Stanton do in past life, set fire to London or something?

Posted by: Mike Tanier on 08 Apr 2013

22 comments, Last at 10 Apr 2013, 9:13am by Mr Shush


by Drunkmonkey :: Mon, 04/08/2013 - 8:01am

Isn't that supposed to say Matt Flynn to Oakland?

by JonFrum :: Mon, 04/08/2013 - 9:51am

"Kolb Delusion is the mistaken belief that bad NFL teams can make themselves better by making themselves less worse."

So what are they supposed to do - put Johnny Football in a Kevin Kolb mask? I fail to see the delusion here. Winning six games is better than winning five. The only team I've seen make a big deal out of one of these QBs is Arizona with Palmer. The only option teams have is to tank the season, and unlike the NBA, the NFL isn't suck-friendly. Obviously, the best thing a bad team could do would be to clear out older veterans, structure contracts to clear cap space for the future, and ask the fans for patience. Baseball teams do it all the time. The culture of the NFL just doesn't allow it.Perhaps that's because of the violent nature of the game - asking players to suffer all those hits and season-ending injuries for a planned wasted season just wouldn't sit well.

by Mr Shush :: Mon, 04/08/2013 - 10:08am

The Cardinals have made themselves vastly better by acquiring Palmer in place of Kolb. They're still not going to contend in the brutal NFC West, but that is a massive upgrade.

by Led :: Mon, 04/08/2013 - 12:18pm

Yeah, going from godawful to "competent and willing" at a reasonable price is a very solid move. Mike T seems to be making the perfect the enemy of the good here.

by Noah Arkadia :: Mon, 04/08/2013 - 7:12pm

Or the true the enemy of the convenient.

FO posters are a peacock. You got to let us fly!

by Eggwasp (not verified) :: Tue, 04/09/2013 - 7:48am

Completely agree - the problem with Mike's argument is that these teams aren't shuffling the deckchairs because they want to. Its because they HAVE to. Sure, it would be lovely if there were 20 NFL-quality starters available in the draft each year - but there aren't. But you can't just refuse to play games until you are good, and you need some parts - especially the QB, to at least function in order that you can evaluate the rest. This isn't baseball where the 1B either hits or he doesn't, Denarius Moore needs someone functional throwing him the ball or we'll never know if he has what it takes to start or not. If Flynn is merely functional this year whilst releasing $75m of cap space for next year (not on his own admittedly..), thats gives Reggie the chance to see if Moore and Ford are worth keeping, if McFadden can get healthy and look like he did in 2011 before the zone-blocking scheme disaster, iif the defense can improve - he can't do that if the defense is on the field for 45 minutes a game, the opposition play with 8 in the box and the WRs don't have a ball land in their zip code all season. If Luck, RGIII, Wilson etc were around this April, sure, they wouldnt have made the move but that's not the hand Reggie has been dealt.

by Revenge of the NURBS (not verified) :: Tue, 04/09/2013 - 12:03pm

I agree with all of this in principle, but it would be more compelling if Buffalo, Cleveland, et al hadn't been in this same mode for a decade. Especially Buffalo. Buffalo's entire organizational philosophy seems to be "tread water", and as a result, they haven't had a real QB (or a winning season) since Drew Bledsoe was in town. There comes a point where the shuffling of the deck chairs becomes self-perpetuating. The good news is that when they give up on Kolb a couple years from now, there's a decent chance Jason Campbell will be available.

by Mr Shush :: Tue, 04/09/2013 - 1:43pm

Obviously you should try to acquire a long term solution as well. That doesn't preclude trying not to suck until you do.

Here are some quarterbacks the Bills could have drafted without trading up during the last decade:

Russell Wilson
Colin Kaepernick
Josh Freeman
Joe Flacco
Jay Cutler
Matt Schaub

They could also have tried to sign Drew Brees or Kurt Warner as a free agent, or traded for Schaub or Cutler.

"Build the best team you can with what quarterbacking you can get, and take a shot at a franchise QB when you do get the chance" is a strategy that's worked pretty well for the Steelers and Ravens in recent times. It's not looking too terrible for the Bears, either. I'd say it beats the hell out of "Suck really really hard and hope that the QB we take first overall is the saviour" as an approach.

by Revenge of the NURBS (not verified) :: Wed, 04/10/2013 - 8:41am

Exactly so. The Bills in particular (I'm fixated on them for some reason) have not done that. They go from placeholder to placeholder and as a result, they go from 7-9 season to 7-9 season. They ignore the "take a shot at a franchise QB" half of that formula -- the last time they tried it was in 2004 with Losman, and that was a pretty obvious reach even then. Organizationally, the Bills are extremely risk-averse (possibly for financial reasons), and they appear to be content to field a consistently mediocre team rather than take a shot.

As such, I think the diagnosis of "Kolb Delusion" is a fair one in regards to Buffalo. Maybe not so much with Cleveland, Oakland, or Arizona.

by Mr Shush :: Wed, 04/10/2013 - 9:13am

Of course, for a lot of that time Buffalo were also just cheap full stop - there was a big difference between the salary floor and the salary cap, and they were near the floor. That's no longer really true.

by RedDog (not verified) :: Tue, 04/09/2013 - 7:49am

Exactly ... plus Palmer is the best option they could have gotten. Maybe the guys writing these articles think there is another Peyton Manning standing around on the streets waiting to be signed. Unfortunately, if every team could get a player of Manning's caliber, Manning himself would revert to just being average.

Plus they got Palmer on the cheap (I guess both the trade and his contract), and he is a better option to "win now" than drafting a guy.

I also like Jason Campbell in Cleveland ... hope he really gets a shot at the No 1 spot, though that is doubtful in my eyes.

by sundown (not verified) :: Mon, 04/08/2013 - 11:54am

" if you subscribe to the theory that a quarterback his age can develop significantly"

I've never been sold on Weeden, but this is a really misleading statement given Weeden's circumstances are so incredibly rare. His age is immaterial...he was a rookie in the NFL. Is it a "theory" that rookies can improve with time? Where is the evidence that an older rookie couldn't improve over time?

by Ryan D. :: Mon, 04/08/2013 - 12:03pm

Weinke, Chris.

by sundown (not verified) :: Mon, 04/08/2013 - 5:51pm

Because most other 4th rounders turn out to be great except for the old guys?

by Ryan D. :: Tue, 04/09/2013 - 8:37am

Both played minor league baseball up until around the age of 24-25, then enrolled in college, played QB in college football at a very high level, and then entered the NFL draft at age 28. Both started every game as a rookie. If your question is about how an older NFL rookie QB can develop, Chris Weinke is the most similar comparison available.

Their disparity in draft position can be explained by the much higher valuation of the QB position in 2012 vs 2001. If Weinke came out in last year's draft, he wouldn't have been a 4th round pick. Someone would have reached for him much sooner. If Weeden came out in the 2001 draft, he wouldn't have been a first round pick, as teams wouldn't want to take a chance on an older prospect.

by asg (not verified) :: Mon, 04/08/2013 - 12:44pm

John Beck?

by sundown (not verified) :: Mon, 04/08/2013 - 5:56pm

Again, not really a similar comparison. Beck played 5 games in 2007 and then never played again until 2011 when he played 4 more. Weeden started as a rookie for an entire season and will likely start again this year. And his rookie year was far better than what Beck put together.

I've never been a Weeden fan, but my questions about him have never had anything to do with his age.

by Deelron :: Mon, 04/08/2013 - 1:03pm

Roger Sta...oh nm.

by Guest789 :: Mon, 04/08/2013 - 3:41pm

" It's a win-win scenario for a team that too often considers two wins an accomplishment."

That line is beautiful. Just wanted to say that.


“Treat a man as he is, and he will remain as he is. Treat a man as he could be, and he will become what he should be.”

by tunesmith :: Mon, 04/08/2013 - 3:55pm

As for Stanton and why he's always overlooked, it probably doesn't help him that his first name is in the past tense.

by Partially anonymous (not verified) :: Mon, 04/08/2013 - 4:44pm

If ARZ gets some o-line help via draft then Palmer might be serviceable. And I think BUF's O-line is clearly superior to ARZ 2012 line, so he might improve as well. We'll see...

by dbostedo :: Mon, 04/08/2013 - 6:13pm

"Matt Flynn did nothing wrong. He worked very hard. He performed well in practice. He didn't lose the Seahawks starting job. Russell Wilson ripped it from him. Wilson turned out to be a force of nature. Flynn just could not stop Wilson from overtaking him. Flynn did nothing wrong."

There's an "A Few Good Men" parody in there somewhere. "...we did nothing wrong..." always reminds me of this scene :