Media outlets called it a blockbuster trade. Cynics are now calling it a block-bust trade. Time will tell which label is closer to the truth. The early returns on the offseason deal that sent quarterback Kevin Kolb from Philadelphia to Arizona for cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and a second-round pick are far less than what the Eagles and Cardinals envisioned.
Rodgers-Cromartie is playing a little more than half the defensive snaps while adjusting to a new role in the slot. He was beaten on at least three occasions in a crushing loss to Chicago on Monday Night Football that dropped the so-called Dream Team to 3-5.
“I ain’t depressed,” Rodgers-Cromartie told CSN Philly. “Am I mad? I mean, yeah, I would like to be outside. But as far as getting down and beating myself up about it, I can’t do that. It’s out of my hands. All I can do is keep working and keep trying to get this nickel down.”
Without the benefit of offseason workouts, Kolb has struggled to learn the intricacies of a new offense, throwing for 1,706 yards with eight touchdowns, eight interceptions, four fumbles, a 56.8 completion percentage that ranks 29th in the NFL and a passer rating (77.8) that ranks 23rd.
Now Kolb is sidelined with turf toe and assorted other foot ailments that kept him out of last week’s win over the St. Louis Rams – Arizona’s second win this season. He missed practice again on Thursday and will likely miss this week’s game against his former team at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia – one in which he would desperately love to play.
“It would mean a lot,” Kolb said. “Anybody can say they don’t circle it on their calendar, but you do. I have a lot of friends and there are a lot of good people back there. I definitely want to be in uniform and have a chance to play.”
Kolb hasn’t had much time to absorb the magnitude of the trade which occurred just after the lockout was lifted. The deal was completed on July 28. Two days later, the Cards opened training camp in Flagstaff and haven’t stopped running since.
“We’ve been through a lot already,” he said, referring to the team’s 2-6 start. “That makes it a little longer than maybe what it should feel like.”
Kolb understands that criticism comes with the turf, especially at his position. But he appears to have the even temperament to handle it
“Your put your head down and start going to work,” the quarterback said. “That’s all you can think about anyway. You don’t think about what someone else is doing and all that kind of stuff. We are just concerned about where we’re at.”
The reception has arguably been harder for Rodgers-Cromartie, mostly because of Philly’s notoriously harsh fan base.
The Bears converted their first four third downs and finished 9 of 16 if you include two penalties that led to first downs in that Monday nighter. Three of those conversions came with Rodgers-Cromartie in coverage. He was beat by Earl Bennett twice and Roy Williams once.
“It’s the eighth game – excuses for not knowing – that’s not acceptable,” he told CSN Philly. “Can I play better? Yeah. Shoot, I’m a way better corner than what I’m playing. It just so happens it’s not going that way.”
Cardinals cornerback Michael Adams is good friends with Rodgers-Cromartie. Their raucous card games after practice in the Arizona locker room always drew laughs from the media contingent on hand. Adams finds it odd that the Eagles are using Rodgers-Cromartie in the slot because that position doesn’t play to Rodgers-Cromartie’s greatest strengths, his speed and coverage abilities.
“I don’t believe so, but if that’s what Philly sees and believes he’ll be best at, then he’ll have to go out and excel at it,” Adams said.
The prevailing sentiment is that Rodgers-Cromartie will move back outside next season when veteran Asante Samuel, due a base salary of $8.2 million, will likely be moved.
"We're moving him all over the place and he's getting used to it," Eagles coach Andy Reid said of Rodgers-Cromartie. "I know he's been a pleasure here. He's working hard."
As for dealing with Eagles fans, Kolb said beginning his career in Philly helped toughen him. Rodgers-Cromartie might learn the same.
"The thing that I learned is that nobody escaped [criticism]," Kolb said. "It doesn't matter if you are the owner, the head coach, the quarterback or a special teams player. You had to block it out and get thick skin and go play every Sunday."
Reid is confident Rodgers-Cromartie will reach that point. And he believes the same of his former quarterback.
"Things take time," Reid said. "You had one of the all-time great ones there with Kurt Warner, and that was up and down initially. Then he came in and got it all figured out and it was lights out.
"That's how those things work. Kevin's a young guy that's going to do nothing but get better."