The Matchup: Eagles Vs. Lions

NFL: Washington Redskins at Philadelphia EaglesChip Kelly might not admit it, but he has favorites.

Players whose names he will bring up unprompted. Guys he’ll go out of his way to mention as underrated or under-appreciated. And atop that list this year has been tight end Brent Celek.

On the surface, Celek’s numbers are unimpressive: 23 receptions for 319 yards. He’s on pace for his lowest per-game averages since 2008 in both categories. But there are plenty of reasons why Kelly has sung Celek’s praises all year long.


"I think Chip respects guys that give everything they’ve got on every single play when you’re out there," Celek said. "I respect everything that he’s done. Everything that he does makes sense, and you as a football player, that’s what you want. You want answers to some of your questions, and he answers those. And everything he wants you to do, it all makes sense."

The strong relationship between Celek and Kelly was no given during the offseason. The seventh-year tight end was an Andy Reid loyalist. Even as things fell apart last season, Celek stood at his locker after every game and defended his head coach.

Meanwhile, after Kelly was hired, he made moves to bolster Celek's position, signing James Casey in free agency and drafting Zach Ertz in the second round. Those moves could have rubbed Celek the wrong way and put his standing with the team in question, but Kelly made sure that was a non-issue.

"He called me both times right afterwards," Celek said. "And I think that makes you have a lot of respect for a guy too when he’s telling you where you stand at all times, and I can really appreciate that."

Added Kelly: "I called everybody. When we drafted Lane [Johnson], I talked to Jason Peters and Todd [Herremans], who our tackles were at the time. When we signed free agents, we called the other guys at those positions on the team. For me, it's part of the process. They are involved in this team and I think they should understand what direction we are going in and why we are doing things."

Ertz wasn't sure what to expect when he stepped foot into the Eagles' locker room, but he found out quickly that Celek was willing to help him along.

"You hear all these stories that the vets are all into themselves around the league. At least in college that’s what you hear, and Brent was the complete opposite," he said. "He’s kind of been like a big brother to me. He’s been unbelievable both on and off the field."

The investment in the tight end position is starting to pay off. Celek is blocking better than he ever has and is a key veteran in building the team's new culture. Ertz had his best game of the season against Arizona with five catches for 68 yards and a pair of scores. And Casey is trying to make the most of somewhat limited opportunities (12 snaps last week), while contributing on special teams.

Kelly has two coaches in charge of the three players: 34-year-old Justin Peelle and 70-year-old Ted Williams. Peelle played his college ball at Oregon before Kelly got there, but the two got to know each other over the years. He also helps run the scout-team defense.

"I wanted to get a lot of young guys in here that are willing to work, do all the grunt work, the film breakdown, staying here until 1 in the morning, at night, make sure everything's all set for us," Kelly said. "I knew he was going to be one of those guys."

Williams, meanwhile, is in his 19th season with the organization, having served previously on the staffs of Ray Rhodes and Andy Reid.

"The first time I met him, sat down and had an interview with him, there's a lot of intelligent people in the world, but there's not a lot of wise people in the world. I think Ted has wisdom," Kelly said. "A guy that has been around this organization for as long as Ted has, a great teacher, just a guy that, you know, that wily old sage veteran in the room that we can really bounce a lot of ideas off. It was really important to have Ted be a part of the staff also."

The two assistants divide up responsibilities. Peelle spent 10 seasons in the league, having bounced around to four different teams. He was with the 49ers as recently as 2011.

"Justin’s played the position so there are a lot of things that he knows that are current with the game because he’s played it that are very, very helpful," Williams said. "We kind of compliment each other in terms of making sure that we say the right things, but the delivery is different so it doesn’t get stale."

Added Casey: "It’s easy for him [Peelle] to relate to players since he knows what it’s like to be in the locker room. He knows what we’re going through, the day-in, day-out process of how much work goes into this position, how much the grind is from week to week."

Peelle brings the experience as a player, while Williams brings the experience as a coach.

"I’m not an overly vocal person, but I’m gonna behind the scenes encourage you," Williams said. "Behind the scenes, I’m gonna be very direct in terms of what I know is right. And I’m gonna be consistent in what I believe is right."

Overall, Celek has played 77 percent of the team's snaps; Ertz 41 percent; and Casey 8 percent. Celek is the best blocker and the most well-rounded of the group. While his overall numbers are down, Celek is averaging a career-high 13.9 yards per catch.

Ertz continues to grow into the best downfield receiving threat among the team's tight ends. And Casey could get his number called a bit more as a blocker in the run game.

The group as a whole, and the coaches that lead them, will play a major factor in determining the Eagles' offensive success down the stretch.

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  • Tom wL

    Big difference from last week is that Detroit does not have a strong defense and actually has a horrid pass defense. I would compare their overall defense to the bucs … Strong dline play followed by a very weak secondary. If we don’t beat ourselves on offense, we should be able to put up atleast 31 pts on these guys fairly easily (if wind isn’t a major factor). Lions will score some points but we should win the turnover battle and field position battle and penalty rate. Lions are not a well coached team so I believe that is another strong advantage for us. If we get up early which we have consistently done all season, we should be able to dictate the pace. Stafford will cough it up and we will score. Wrs will have big games for the birds.

    • Aran

      I don’t anticipate a game in the coming weather to be a high-scoring affair, and Shady won’t be able to cut for his yards on that field through the #3 run D. Bush wasn’t cutting in practice yesterday, but they do have Bell.

      • Tom W

        Ehh.. mid 30s light snow and light wind … not that bad overall. vegas still has the total around 53.5 …. While i think it goes under, I could see us winning 27-24 or 30-21

    • Dr Rick

      Good points. I think this is a game where the up tempo will be particularly effective, and think CK will really use it. The more plays we can get in against the Lions’ D the better we will do. We need to keep Stafford off the field as much as possible. On D, just not giving up anything cheap should keep us in position for a turnover or 3, and get the O back on the field.
      Go Birds!

  • Andy124

    The better team doesn’t always win. If the better team wins on Sunday, the Eagles will be on a 5 game winning streak.

  • Adam

    These quotes about players feeling the best they have in their career this late into the season gives me a quarter chub. I love you so much, Mystery Man Shaun Huls.

    • G_WallyHunter

      And those two assistants that Tim revealed yesterday, again, supposed to be classified..

      If multiple teams have similar programs in place next year ill be pointing my finger at u know who, the guy who basically published a blueprint

      • Adam

        Unless we keep the same 53 man roster and coaching staff for the next 10 years, I’m not sure it’s going to stay a secret for long.

        • anon

          Exactly, Im sure Issac already talked to bellichik about it

        • G_WallyHunter

          Ya unfortunately, I just hope no other teams can organize a program as effective as this one, as I said in previous post, of course teams will get inside scoop on what it is exactly that they do, the facts, methods, tweaks. The challenge is putting it all together as well as Huls and co have. On another note, lets hope this staff is loyal and sticks around for a while, especially if they keep this up (then again, if they keep this up they’ll be getting calls, so hopefully they don’t take the bait)

        • TNA

          Unless other teams know how Huls is crunching the numbers to come up with the customized treatment/recovery/diet/workout plan, that stuff will remain an Eagles secret unless Huls is hired away. The lifestyle changes, the players can keep and good for them – it’s stuff they should’ve been doing anyway.

          If everybody in the league starts measuring players’ sleep habits and gets guys to sleep 8-10 hrs a night, and the quality of play across the league starts to go up, and there are less late-night NFL-player related PR disasters, the NFL should thank CK and give him a job if he wants it after his coaching career is over.

    • BlindChow

      Clones! IT’S ALL CLONES!!

  • knighn

    Google Jim Schwartz and the picture from this article comes up:
    http://www.chicagonow.com/chicago-tough/2011/11/jim-schwartz-totally-that-douchebag-coach-from-80s-movies-trying-to-stop-attractive-quarterback-from-living-basic-high-school-life/

    Bottom line: whether the Big Blue Pussies win or lose, Jim Schwartz is a Douchebag.

    • Adam

      Oh god, what a doucher. He looks like Drew Rosenhaus.

      • knighn

        They need to change their names:
        Drew Rosenhaus —> Douche Rosendouche
        Jim Schwartz —> Douche Sharts

  • EaglePete

    anyone notice Celek make that first down catch last week then get this…..not make the 1st down hand motion…looked at sidelines and lined up for the next play. Loved it.

    • BlindChow

      Instead, he now does the motion every time he beats a stoplight.

    • EaglefaninAZ

      No time for that when you’re not huddling.

  • G_WallyHunter

    Dammit not john lynch again, I’d rather put the game on mute. I believe he did the SD game and I remember how much he sucked. Too many concussions make for some hilariously repetitive comments and name mix-ups

    • bentheimmigrant

      Anything’s better than last week.

      • G_WallyHunter

        ya lol moose is almost as bad

        • bentheimmigrant

          Almost? Those guys were freaking out because we lined up with 25 seconds on the play clock. They didn’t even consider that we might not snap it straight away.

          • G_WallyHunter

            Ya that was comical, they were going pretty crazy, critiquing it as usual. “I’ll tell ya moose, I just don’t understand what these Eagles are doing, why are they snapping it with over 10 seconds on the clock?” .. wouldn’t shut up about it.

            John Lynch sucks, listen for name screw ups on Sunday, he loves them.. or lines like “The thing about this offense is that it just isn’t effective without effective execution and effectively moving the chains”… he loves stating things like that, as if it’s unique to the team he’s talking about.

  • EaglePete

    Our D line has to get serious pressure on Stafford and force him to throw out of timing, hopefully get some turnovers. Sack fumbles and INTs otherwise it may be a shootout.

    • Mr. Magee

      Agree… I think whichever team gets better pressure on the QB wins the game.