Well, here we are. one year a one pre-season game after the Kevin Kolb experiment officially began, it seems more and more likely that John Skelton will be our starting QB this season; if not when the season begins, then five minutes later when Kolb goes down with yet another injury. Yet there are many out there who argue insistently that Kolb needs to stay the starter for a variety of reasons (while often deriding those of us who have seen this coming since the beginning of last season). Some of us tire of the flawed logic they consistently employ. For this reason (and my amusement) I will lay out the most frequently used arguments by the Kolb supporters, and explain fallacies that lie within those arguments.
Argument #1. Kolb was a statisically better QB last year (or for his career) than Skelton.
Who makes this argument: People who don't understand math/ statistics
A: There is simply no metric out there that supports that claim. Strictly by the numbers, these two QBs were pretty much the same. They were both bad. Their completion percentage, yards, TDs, and TOs were similar. While the numbers fluctuate between them, there is no statistical difference between their numbers. Statistical significance is determined by power (the sample size) and magnitude of effect (the difference between the numbers for each QB). Each QB only played 8 games, limiting the power of analyzing their numbers. They both sucked pretty much the same in terms of numbers, making the magnitude of effect small. No one should argue that Skelton was a by the numbers, statistically better QB than Kolb, as that would be equally dumb. To explain the variability between the numbers in a "real world" example, let's take a coin flip. We know (or let's assume) the chances of getting heads to tails is 50%. If you flip a coin a thousand times, you are not likely to get exactly 500 heads and 500 tails, but there will be no statistical difference between the numbers you get. If Kolb flips a coin 50 times and gets heads 30 times and tails 20, while Skelton flips 24 heads and 26 tails, this does not mean Kolb is better at flipping coins. Flipping more coins (equivalent to throwing more passes) would eventually show that the two flip coins the same. Similarly, if they truly were different statistically, you would see more than a 1 point difference in points scored per game (5% difference) or 42 yards passing (2% difference), or INT % (2%). The bottom line is that in football, statistics are not the end-all be-all for assessing QBs.
Argument #2. Kolb should start because we paid/gave up so much for him, and we want to see a return on our investment
Who makes this argument: People who are bad with money
A: This is a losing business strategy. We paid a lot of money for Kolb because A: there weren't that many free agents on the market, and B: he had a few good games in Philly (I guess we forgot about the bad ones), and C: we were desperate for a QB, because of a series of TERRIBLE QB decisions (Leinart, DA, etc.). We also thought that Fitz would bail unless we signed Kolb, which is mere speculation. We pay Kolb good money, top QB money, and he has yet to produce. We clearly overpaid for Kolb (would anyone still deny this?).
The goal of this game is to win. You put in the best player that gives you the best chance to win. Putting down more money/opportunity (in terms of reps in practice) on a loser is a sure-fire way to lose more money. Anyone who successfully plays the stock market will tell you- buy low, sell high. We've done the opposite with Kolb. Not only that, some of you want to dump MORE money in this sinking investment to try to save it. If playing Skelton leads to wins, he needs to be playing more. If Kolb is not progressing he needs to be playing less, not more. IMHO, the best business strategy we could have employed on Kolb (which I mentioned in the off-season during the Manning watch) would have been to cut Kolb before his bonus. His worth is 1/10 of what we paid, and no one would have claimed him at his current salary. We could then have resigned him (assuming we didn't Manning without that albatross around our neck) at a much reduced salary, and then no one would be complaining about a fair chance for Skelton.
Argument #3. But Kolb didn't have an off-season last year!
Who makes this argument: people who don't understand the purpose of practice
A. Let's omit the obvious fact that Skelton also didn't have an off-season, and if you count his rookie year he was #3 on the depth chart and saw basically no time with the starting unit. Let's also omit the fact that Kolb has been in the league for 5 years and should know how to prepare for a regular season. Let's just focus on learning the playbook and getting familiar with players and coaches, etc.. The purpose of practice and the pre-season is to SIMULATE real game situations without it counting. How many pre-season games and camps let you familiarize yourself with a system as much as a real game? I would wager less than one. If Kolb stunk for the first 3 games of the season, I could buy that argument if he then improved. He did not. What could he learn in the off-season and pre-season that he couldn't learn in a real-game situation? Nothing, that's what. But this leads me to...
Argument #4. But Warner said it took him a year to learn the system! And he thinks Kolb is the guy
Fallacy of appeal to authority
A. No offence to Warner, but even if it took him to learn the system it does not mean it should take Kolb the same amount of time to learn it. Also, regarding Warner's choice for QB, let's not forget he also said Max Hall was going to be our guy. Well, basically he was right since they are about the same.
Argument #5. Kolb would have been better/won all his games for a fact if he played with the improved defense that Skelton played with
Who makes this argument: people that don't understand the difference between fact and opinion
A. Yes, the defense played better down the stretch last season when Skelton was starting. Miraculously, the improved defense (and team performance) coincidentally happened the minute Skelton walked onto the field (just coincidence, of course!). It is mere speculation that Kolb would have won ANY of his games with this defense, not any sort of fact as has been thrown around. I will re-iterate the one true fact- Kolb had a chance to win or tie every game he payed on the last drive with 2 exceptions, and could not do so. What could have happened with Kolb playing with the same defense Skelton enjoyed (interestingly, it was all the same players) is mere speculation. There is no difference between stating this or that it is fact Skelton would have gone 16-0 if he was allowed to start from the beginning of the season (go head, prove me wrong since it didn't happen and is complete speculation on my part).
Argument #6. But Kolb DID improve over the season/ played better with an improved defense- look at the Dallas game!!
Who makes this argument: People with selective memory.
A. Kolb won the first game of the season with a mediocre performance and then towards the end of the year, with another mediocre performance between injuries against Dallas. In that game, he was bad in the first half, and had a good second half. Then we got lucky in overtime. He did perform better for one half of one game. Then he got injured again. Yes, he did play well at that time. But you need to stop forgetting all the other games he played in. For the season Kolb was not good. Every dog has it's day. In the end, Skelton got us 6 victories and Kolb 2 with the same number of games. Skelton lead the victory formation. Skelton did what he needed to do to win those games, even though he looked bad at times. Bottom line when comparing QBs- look at all the games/all the data. One game is not enough to evaluate a player. If it were, Max Hall would still be our QB. Remember when he beat the Champion Saints????