Three years after arriving in Philadelphia, Kolb is now the franchise’s starting quarterback as the Eagles welcome Green Bay to Lincoln Financial Field for Sunday’s season opener.
Despite having Favre as their entrenched starter, the Packers took Rodgers with the 24th overall pick in 2005 and groomed him behind the future Hall of Famer over the next three seasons.
Amid the drama of Favre’s initial retirement in 2008 and his attempted return to the team, Green Bay maintained its commitment to Rodgers, who threw for 4,038 yards and 28 touchdowns during that 6-10 season.
Despite being sacked 50 times, he followed with 4,434 yards and 30 TDs in 2009 while cutting his interceptions from 13 to seven and leading the Packers back to the postseason.
Because of Rodgers’ consistency and continued growth, they are among the favorites to make a Super Bowl run this year. Wide receivers Donald Driver(notes) and Greg Jennings(notes) both have topped 1,000 yards in each of the past two seasons, while running back Ryan Grant(notes) is also coming off back-to-back 1,200-yard seasons.
Adding to that optimism are Rodgers’ stellar numbers from the preseason in which he completed 77.4 percent of his passes for 406 yards and six touchdowns without an interception. Green Bay averaged 296.0 yards passing and 406.0 overall in the preseason.
“I think he keeps amazing himself,” Driver said. “He is the best, and he’s proving it. It puts a smile on my face because I’ve seen the man grow from a little kid to a grown man. To do what he’s done, going into his third year as the starting quarterback of the Green Bay Packers, it’s a true fact of what he can do.”
Like the Packers, the Eagles already had an established All-Pro starter at quarterback in Donovan McNabb(notes) when they surprisingly selected Kolb in the second round of the 2007 draft. Just as Rodgers did with Favre, Kolb watched from the sidelines for three seasons before McNabb was traded to Washington in April after 11 seasons with the team.
When Rodgers became the starter, he had appeared in seven games and connected on one touchdown over the previous three seasons. Kolb has seen action in 12 contests and made two starts last season in place of an injured McNabb, topping 300 yards and registering two touchdown passes in each game.
Kolb should have plenty of support especially from Pro Bowl wide receiver DeSean Jackson(notes). Philadelphia also has Jeremy Maclin(notes) coming off a strong showing as a rookie and tight end Brent Celek(notes), who had a team-best 76 receptions for 971 yards during his breakout season in 2009.
“We always have the same expectations to be one of the best in the league, to get further than we did last year and to compete for a Super Bowl and I think that Kevin is going to put us in that position and I really believe this team has the talent to win it,” wide receiver Jason Avant(notes) said.
While Kolb may inspire confidence, there may be some question marks for an Eagles team that’s gotten decidedly younger after reaching the playoffs eight times and advancing to five conference championship games in the previous decade.
The team’s average age is under 25, and no projected starter is older than 29.
Philadelphia is hoping some of its greatest improvement will come on a defense that dropped from the top five in fewest yards and points allowed per game in 2008 to middle of the pack last season.
The Eagles tried to address that side of the ball in the draft, selecting defensive players with their first five picks - including promising pass rusher Brandon Graham(notes) with the 13th overall selection.
The Packers led the league in rushing defense at 83.3 yards per game, but their banged-up secondary is a concern. Green Bay does return reigning defensive player of the year Charles Woodson(notes), who tied for the league lead with nine interceptions, but Atari Bigby(notes) (ankle) and Al Harris(notes) (knee) will miss the season’s first six games.
Including a postseason loss in 2004, the Packers have lost nine straight games at Philadelphia since Nov. 11, 1962.