Eagles Wake-Up Call: From Kelce’s Perspective
Jason Kelce is not playing the best ball of his career this season. It is something that he readily admits, and it’s fairly plain to see. Pinning down the exact reason for that can be a little tricky when there are so many variables at work, but Kelce — as he often does — seemed to hit on the root of the matter when speaking with reporters this week.
“When you think too much,” he said, “a lot of the times you get screwed.”
“It’s fundamentals, it’s technique, it’s things that usually have come natural to me and for whatever reason right now, I’ve been overthinking it. I think I need to do a better job of just going out there, reacting to what’s going on and really not trying to overthink things.”
Asked for examples of incorrect decision-making, the five-year vet pointed to a couple plays that speak to both the nuance of the position and the level of precision needed to properly execute at this level. One that came to mind was this run by Darren Sproles in the opening quarter against the Cowboys which resulted in a four-yard loss.
“I have the option of whether to pull or go through. I decide to go through, but based on the defense they were in I should have known that there was a good chance that the three-technique was going to spike down, so instead of pulling around the three-technique spiking, I try to go through, the three technique clips me and I never make it to Sean Lee,” he said. “Everybody is referencing how Sean Lee read the play quickly, but I don’t have to beat Sean Lee to where he is going, I have to beat Sean Lee to the running back. So if I pull around [I block him]. I do this later in the game and I get him. It would have been a good play but somebody else missed a block, like it has been the whole f***ing season.”
He also cited this play against the Jets in which his man, Leonard Williams, gets penetration and slows down Sproles.
“It was an inside zone play. They were just trying to penetrate instead of reading,” he said. “Instead of them keeping gap integrity all they wanted to do was get off the ball. I’m trying to force the ball into the ‘B’ gap so that they have to keep gap integrity. Through doing that I try to finesse the block and then I’m getting pushed back off my right shoulder. If I do my normal progression, go right down the middle of him and block him [we’re in better shape].”
It’s certainly fair to wonder whether the overthinking (and at times overcompensation) is tied to the lack of familiarity and comfort with the players to either side of him. Gone are Todd Herremans and Evan Mathis. Allen Barbe is now to his left; to his right has been a rotating cast that has included Andrew Gardner, Matt Tobin and Dennis Kelly.
There have been plenty of examples where it looks like he has been out of sync with his dance partner, like in this play below against Dallas where he tries to pull but is not on the same page with Gardner.
Kelce, though, points the finger back at himself.
“At this point I’ve worked with pretty much everybody out here but this isn’t a point where that’s a concern of mine,” he said. “My concern is to make sure that I’m getting my job done because quite frankly I haven’t been playing up to the standard I hold for myself or the standard this whole team holds of a center being out there. I’m a firm believer: as long as you take care of you, it’s going to take care of everybody else. So if I do a better job myself, this offense is going to be better.”
WHAT YOU MISSED
With the help of Brian Westbrook, a look at why Ryan Mathews might be the better option over DeMarco Murray.
“I’m going to play.” Jason Peters counts himself in for Sunday’s home showdown with New Orleans.
In the latest edition on Press Coverage, we discuss how the Eagles can salvage the season.
Josh pulls out the All-22 to figure out what’s happening along the offensive line.
WHAT THEY’RE SAYING
Domo likes the Eagles’ matchup against the Saints’ ground game.
The Saints’ run game has been only slightly more productive than the Eagles’ so far. They are 28th in rushing yards per game (82.8) and 30th in yards per carry (3.4). Mark Ingram is a tenacious between-the-tackles thumper who rushed for 964 yards and nine TDs in just 13 games last year, but is averaging just 3.6 yards per carry in the first four games. He is coming off his best performance of the season – 77 yards on 17 carries v. Dallas. The Saints have been without their best offensive lineman, right guard Jahri Evans, since Week 2. He had his knee scoped last week. Backup Khiry Robinson averaged 4.8 yards per carry last year, but is averaging just 3.6 on 26 carries this year. Even with injuries at defensive end (Cedric Thornton, Taylor Hart, Brandon Bair) and inside linebacker (Kiko Alonso, Mychal Kendricks, DeMeco Ryans), the Eagles are tough to run on. They have held opponents to 3.3 yards per carry this season.
Tommy Lawlor takes a looks at New Orleans’ defense.
As for the defense, I still firmly believe the one huge mistake Sean Payton made was hiring Rob Ryan. He got the defense to play really well in 2013, but it was awful last year and isn’t much better this season.
As Chip Kelly explained, Ryan runs a very complex defense and loves to mix things up. He designs exotic blitzes and mixes in conservative coverages as well. The blitzes will work from time to time, but also will get burned. Right now the Saints don’t have a great secondary. It doesn’t seem like they’ve been the same since losing Malcolm Jenkins.
To be fair, they did have some players coming off injury last week. Maybe this group will settle down and start playing at a high level. I just don’t anticipate that happening.
We’ll continue to get you ready for Eagles-Saints.