Why Kelce blames himself for early breakdowns in opener originally appeared on NBC Sports Philadelphia
Even future Hall of Famers can have off days.
And Jason Kelce placed a lot of the blame for the Eagles’ early offensive line protection issues in Detroit Sunday squarely on himself.
“It was a good environment by Detroit, but it’s nothing we haven’t played in before,” Kelce said Friday. “We have to do a better job and that starts with me.”
The Lions blitzed a ton Sunday, and the combination of those extra rushers and extreme crowd noise left the Eagles out of sorts for much of the first half.
The Eagles still scored 38 points – 31 of them on offense – but a lot of that was Jalen Hurts turning jailbreaks into big plays with his legs.
“It’s going to be loud,” Kelce said of road games. “We have different ways of communicating in environments like that, and I didn’t take advantage of the different tools to do that, which led to some problems, especially early on.
“That’s an emphasis for us. Obviously, we’ll be home this week, but the Linc can get pretty loud too. So you’ve got to be ready to make sure everybody’s on the same page. I think if you look at the o-line, when we were on the same page, there really wasn’t much (negative) going on in the game and for the most part guys were able to do their jobs physically.
“I think it’s really just the communication aspect, and that’s mostly my job.”
It’s unusual hearing Kelce talk like this.
After all, he’s one of only nine four-time 1st-team all-pro centers in NFL history – and the eight others are in the Hall of Fame.
But he’s nothing if not accountable. And he said there was some intense film study this week as the Eagles work to avoid a repeat of Sunday’s communication breakdowns in a national TV prime-time game Monday night against the Vikings at the Linc.
“We know very much that that game could have been lost,” Kelce said. “I think everybody saw that watching it. So we’re obviously very happy that we won the game and I think that’s good when you can win games like that, that speaks well to a team.
“But we all know there’s a lot to fix from that tape. For myself personally, there’s a lot I can do to put the team in a better situation.”
Kelce had high praise for Hurts, who wound up with 90 rushing yards on 16 carries – six of them for first downs.
Hurts ran five times on third down, converting three times. Only Trey Lance converted more third downs in Week 1 with his legs.
“The first quarter, first half, he bailed us out of numerous third-down situations that would have stalled out drives,” Kelce said. “His ability to improvise and run and be dynamic saved us in those situations.”
Kelce knows the Eagles could easily have lost that game.
So on the one hand, he’s encouraged that the Eagles could play so poorly and inconsistently and still win a road game in a tough stadium.
On the other hand, he knows the Eagles have a lot of work to do before they can call themselves a good team.
“If you play a perfect game and you only win by three that’s not very good,” Kelce said. “If you play a game where you make a lot of mistakes and you get bailed out quite a bit and you still win the game, that’s rare.
“So it’s good that A.J. Brown and some of the guys were able to have good enough performances for us to win, but obviously offensively, defensively, across the board, there’s a lot to improve on.”
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