Sep 29, 2013; Denver, CO, USA; Philadelphia Eagles centerJason Kelce
(62) at the line of scrimmage against the Denver Broncos in the first quarter at Sports Authority Field at Mile High. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports
Sometimes you just don’t appreciate what you have until you lose it.
There is so much truth in that statement. Earlier this year the Philadelphia Eagles lost their star center Jason Kelce to injury. No offense to Eagles backup center David Molk (who has played respectably during Kelce’s absence), but, you just can’t replace Jason Kelce…..with anybody. Yesterday, Jason Kelce returned to Eagles offense, as the team rushed for a 2014 high of 190 yards in a 31-21 victory over the Houston Texans.
Most football fans can rattle off a list of the NFL’s greatest runners, or wide receivers, and most certainly, the greatest quarterbacks. But how many can name the best centers to play the game? Not many can. Exactly. There is no love for the centers. Hopefully this post will contribute to a renewed appreciation of what Jason Kelce means to the Philadelphia Eagles football team.
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And that is simply this: Jason Kelce is the most important football player on the Philadelphia Eagles 53 man roster.
Sometimes it takes a young offensive lineman (particularly a center) time to gain attention and notoriety for his play. Center is not a glamour position. But Jason Kelce is far more than an accomplished blocker and unit leader.
Jason Kelce is redefining the center position itself.
“He’s been huge. I think everything that we get started on the offensive side of the ball starts with him. He sets the blocking schemes for us. Very, very smart, and a real student of the game.” – Eagles HC Chip Kelly on Jason Kelce
Considered undersized by many at 6’3″ and 295 lbs., Kelce is the prototype athletic center for the Eagles fast break offense. Philadelphia Eagles Coach Chip Kelly’s offense requires a mobile, agile athletic talent at the center position to fully leverage all of its concepts. There aren’t many centers athletic enough to migrate downfield and faceplant potential tacklers like Kelce can. In fact, his skills are one of the driving factors in the Eagles strong effectiveness in their screen game.
How many of you know that Jason Kelce makes all of the Eagles pre-snap blocking assignment calls, and not quarterback Nick Foles? Kelce is really the Eagles unsung leader of the Eagles offense. According to Coach Kelly: “He’s really almost the coach on the field for that group, and it takes a little pressure off the quarterback. In some systems, the quarterback is making all those calls, and in our system, the center does it, and it’s because Jason can handle it, and I think he’s been really valuable to us.”
“He’s really almost the coach on the field for that group, and it takes a little pressure off the quarterback. In some systems, the quarterback is making all those calls, and in our system, the center does it, and it’s because Jason can handle it, and I think he’s been really valuable to us.” – Eagles HC Chip Kelly on Jason Kelce’s leadership
And it’s not just the Eagles coaches and players who have noticed Kelce’s unique skill sets. Listen to what the New England Patriots All Pro Nose Tackle Vince Wilfork had to say about Jason Kelce earlier this year: “To be an undersized guy, especially to play the center position, and the strength he plays with, the technique he plays with, it says a lot about his game and his knowledge of the game. He’s a tough competitor. That’s one thing I noticed right away. He’s getting the line set, he’s making all the communication calls. I think he’s one of the best centers in the league.” Very high praise indeed from a man who has come up close and personal with a lot of NFL centers in his 10+ year Pro Bowl career.
So when you next reflect upon the Philadelphia Eagles team, and the relative value of its star players, I want you to think about Jason Kelce. It’s really no wonder that Kelce graded out as the number 1 center in Pro Football Focus’ 2013 ratings. Many Pro Bowls are ahead for him.
I’ll leave you with this last thought about Kelce. The definition of the word “center” is, among other things, “a point around which anything rotates or revolves.” It really describes Jason Kelce perfectly, doesn’t it?