After watching the “Snowbowl” for the sixth time in two days, I started to wonder how good the Eagles weapons on offense would be without the skilled blocking by the offensive line. The Philadelphia Eagles offensive line is ranked 4th overall by Pro Football Focus and Jason Kelce has started to garner some respect for his abilities from around the league.
Kelce had arguably his best game as the center of the Philadelphia Eagles in the snow on Sunday. He did a great job blocking against two pro-bowl defensive tackles in Ndamukong Suh and Nick Fairley. He sealed double teams well, and when he got to the second level, he found his man and put a helmet on him. He was perfect in pass protection, covering all his assignments.
On LeSean McCoy’s first touchdown, he came off his block and took the outside linebacker out of the play, exactly where Shady ran threw. On McCoy’s second touchdown and Chris Polk’s touchdown, he turned Nick Fairley sideways and pushed him away from the play, opening up the lanes for the backs to burst through and run for touchdowns.
Another aspect of Kelce’s job that stood out were his snaps. Despite playing in eight inches of snow and blizzard-like conditions, Kelce and quarterback Nick Foles had one miscue when snapping the ball. One! Compare that to the other tandem of QB Mathew Stafford and Center Dominic Raiola of Detroit, who were responsible for five, and you start to see just how valuable Kelce is. Also add in, that the Eagles play out of the shotgun on 75 percent of their snaps, and that Kelce is responsible for issuing blocking assignments at the line, and you realize what a monumental task he had during this game, and just how well he played.
Kelce has become a great center and keeps getting better. His career was derailed during his sophomore season for the Eagles when he went down in week two with a knee injury. He recovered quickly and now, 15 months later, Pro Football Focus has him ranked as the 10th best center in the league, and I believe his 2013 season should garner pro-bowl consideration. With Jason Peters, Evan Mathis and Todd Herremans flanking Kelce, he has a tremendous amount of knowledge and experience to rely on in his third year as the Eagles starting center.
Kelce started his journey to the NFL playing at Cleveland Heights High School, where he stared on the football field as a linebacker and running back. From there he attended the University of Cincinnati and was a walk on to the football program as a linebacker. After being red-shirted his freshman year, he was switched to offensive line and played 47 games(starting 38) at guard or center over the next four years.
Undersized and under considered, here is a quote from his draft bio of 2011 from NFL.com:
Kelce has the mobility and mentality to make it as a reserve center in the NFL. However, does not have the size or power to project as a starter.
He was drafted by the Eagles in 2011, during the sixth round, and started at center since day one. At 6’3 and 295 pounds, he is undersized by linemen standards, but his quickness, judgement and intensity make up for that.
His coaches praise him for his dedication and work ethic, not to mention, his mental approach to the game. His teammates love him, and his persona(mostly his beard) win over the fans.
Last night, his hard work was recognized by his teammates, as he was named the 2013 winner of the Ed Block Courage Award.
The Philadelphia Eagles announced that center Jason Kelce has been named the team’s 2013 Ed Block Courage Award recipient.
Each year, the Ed Block Courage Award honors those National Football League players who exemplify commitment to the principles of sportsmanship and courage. They are selected in a vote by their teammates for team effort as well as individual performance.
He has overachieved in many eyes, but with his approach to the game and warrior like attitude during the contest, I think you will see him anchor this line for many years to follow.