Kelce plays the truth card
PHILADELPHIA (973espn.com) - There a lot of ways to lead and Jason Kelce explored a new one this week, exploding on himself and his embattled linemates.
"Bottom line is our defense plays good enough, our offense struggles to move the ball when we don't do our job, and that's been the thing from the (expletive) beginning of the season," Kelce, who has not played well this season, told ComcastSportsnet.
"That's been exactly what stalled out our offense from the beginning all the way through these first four games," he continued. "And right now we don't run the ball when we need to, we don't pass block when we need to, and it's a disgrace right now."
At full strength the Eagles offensive line was a question mark coming into this season because Kelly decided to roll with journeymen Andrew Gardner and Allen Barbre at the guard positions. Now, that Gardner is gone for the season with a foot injury and has been replaced by the always underwhelming Matt Tobin, things got even shakier.
It reached crisis proportions last Sunday when Tobin had to kick out to left tackle when Jason Peters aggravated his quad injury against the Redskins, and Dennis Kelly was inserted at right guard while Lane Johnson was forced to gut it out with a sprained MCL.
There's an adage that says you can't fix a problem until you admit you have one, something Chip Kelly doesn't necessarily believe in.
"At this point in time, you have to have confidence in the team's linemen," the coach said. "There's not a bunch of O-linemen on the street. Everybody is on their different teams at this point in time. So you hope (Peters) is healthy this week and he can go. If not, then we've got to go with what we got."
Perhaps now but what if Pro Bowl guard Evan Mathis still called Philadelphia home?
"It's not a lesson learned," Kelly insisted Monday when asked about releasing Mathis. "We were not going to renegotiate his contract. And again - I'll say it again - we were told by his agent, if we didn't renegotiate it, we weren't getting him back."
The only thing more concerning than Kelly trying to sell that narrative is if he actually believes it.
Agents negotiate, that's what they do and general managers have to sift through the hyperbole and make the proper decisions. The reality is that Mathis informed more than one reporter that he would appear at the Eagles' minicamp and play under his existing deal even though he believed he deserved more money.
And Kelly certainly knew that.
So this mess is on the coach's doorstep even if he's unwilling to take ownership of it.
"It's not just one thing," Kelly said, "it's a combination of a couple things."
"We've been doing things that we've been doing for a long time here - running inside zones, outside zones, sweep plays," he continued. "So I think we understand what we're doing, but we're allowing sometimes too much penetration."
Unlike his predecessor Andy Reid, who angered fans by taking responsibility for everything, Kelly is ticking people off by claiming that the only thing missing with his team is execution, intimating that if the players just did what they were supposed to things would be humming along.
Kelce was far more blunt and honest.
"All I'm worried about right now is getting the offensive line fixed," the veteran center said. "Right now we've got to pass block better, we've got to run block better, we've got to communicate better. There's just way too many mistakes, way too many errors, especially at this point in the season, and we're costing our team wins right now. We've got to get this fixed, and we should have had it fixed yesterday."
At least someone is leading in Philadelphia.
-John McMullen covers the Eagles and the NFL for 973ESPN.com. You can reach him at email@example.com or on Twitter @JFMcMullen