Eagles Wake-Up Call: Kelce, Not QB, Will Make Protection Calls

When last year began, Jason Kelce was in charge of making the protection calls at the line of scrimmage for the Eagles.

When Kelce went down in Week 2 and Dallas Reynolds took over, he became the new man in charge.

But before the Week 9 matchup against the Saints, Michael Vick had a chat with the coaches and told them he wanted the responsibility back. Andy Reid and company went along with the suggestion.

Now, as the Eagles forge ahead with Chip Kelly, the offense is going back to doing things the way it did at the start of 2012. During the spring, the center was put in charge of setting the protection.

“It’s all depending on whether it’s a three-down or a four-down defense,” Kelce explained. “And then from there, depending on the protection, there’s an object linebacker that the offensive line takes. And then off of that, then the running backs can all determine who they have, and the tight ends can determine who they have, and the quarterbacks understand who their hots are off of.”

So the quarterback has no involvement in making the protection calls?

“He can reset it if he wants to,” Kelce said. “The way the quarterback would reset it is if he reset the object linebacker for the offensive line. And in turn, it would be a chain reaction. The running back [would go] off of that. But generally speaking, the offensive line is going to be controlling most of it.”

One of the more fascinating aspects to watch with Kelly’s offense will be what the quarterback’s responsibilities are before the snap. Remember, the coach can talk to the QB through the headset from the time the play clock starts until it hits 15 (25 seconds total).

While the specifics of what the Eagles are going to run are still up in the air, it seems clear that the offense will be making a lot of adjustments based on the look of the defense. That’s not just limited to the quarterback, either. Wide receivers, tight ends and running backs will have options as well, based on what they see out of the coverages.

As for the quarterbacks, Kelce downplayed the idea that the starter needs time to build a familiarity with the offensive line on pre-snap calls.

“Regardless of who’s back there, they’re still going to have the same hots,” he said. “They’re still going to have the same protections. The protections don’t change between offensive lines or anything. It’s always who the guy points to, and then you understand who you have from there.”

WHAT YOU MISSED

From Cary Williams’ cover skills to Nick Foles’ ball security, here are three Eagles numbers that matter.

“I don’t want to leave,” says Jeremy Maclin. The wide receiver talks about his upcoming contract year.

WHAT THEY’RE SAYING

A fight broke out in the stands during LeSean McCoy’s charity softball game in Lancaster. From the Harrisburg Patriot News:

Officers responded to the fight at 8:30 p.m. and separated both men from one another, said Sgt. Bill Hickey, a city police spokesman. A woman was also believed involved in the fight, but only the two men were at the scene when officers arrived.

Both men were cited for disorderly conduct and released, Hickey said, adding that one of them was taken to the Lancaster General Hospital with a minor laceration to his head.

Tommy Lawlor of IgglesBlitz.com thinks Maclin can be special if he has the right coach pushing him:

Mac has big time potential. I don’t know that he’ll ever be an elite player, but I think there is still serious upside with him. I think Mac has needed a coach to really push him. That didn’t happen with Andy Reid. Both men let good enough be good enough. Kelly is going to push Mac a bit more. I’m real curious to see how this works out. Mac could respond well and thrive or he could look at Kelly as if he’s crazy. The key here is going to be how Mac views himself. Does he think he’s had a great career so far? Does he think he’s done all he can?

COMING UP

We’ll check in with the author of a new book called The Tao of Chip Kelly.

Follow Sheil Kapadia on Twitter and e-mail him at skapadia@phillymag.com.
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