Jason Kelce told us this before:
“It’s the whole team. It’s the whole team!”
In 2018, dressed in a lime-green Mummers costume, screaming profanity at a post-parade podium on the Art Museum steps, the Eagles’ star center trumpeted the accomplishment of the unlikely Super Bowl LII champions, from recycled general manager Howie Roseman to under-qualified coach Doug Pederson to his teammates, be they old or slow or simply underestimated, like quarterback Nick Foles, the game’s MVP.
On Wednesday the 10-year veteran center was dressed in a black T-shirt, but he wore a hair shirt. Kelce laid blame of the collapsed 2020 season where it belongs: At the feet of Howie Roseman, Doug Pederson, Kelce himself, and his teammates on offense — including, but not limited to, demoted quarterback Carson Wentz.
“Whenever you’re this bad it’s never just one person. It’s never just one position group. It’s never just players, coaches, or front office. It’s everybody,” Kelce said.
That said, Kelce made a point of contradicting the most toxic and stupidest statement Pederson has made in his five years as coach, from two weeks ago:
”I think, if you get to that spot, where you don’t start [Wentz], or you bench him, you’re sending the wrong message to your football team. That the season’s over.”
Kelce’s response: Shut up, dude.
“We owe it to the fan base, certainly, to try and figure something out,” he said, his voice straining with … anger? Passion? “You still keep trying to freakin’ win.”
During his Zoom interview Kelce didn’t seek to exonerate Wentz, who has been horrible. He sought to lighten the burden.
“This more comes down to a failure of pretty much every position — including the coaches — to facilitate a functioning offense,” Kelce said. “That’s the biggest story here.”
That answer came in response to the flawed notion that, when the Eagles drafted Jalen Hurts in the second round in April, it pressured Wentz so much that Wentz regressed. Eventually, that regression led Pederson to bench Wentz in the third quarter Sunday at Green Bay and insert Hurts. Monday night Pederson told both quarterbacks that Hurts will start Sunday when the Saints visit.
Balderdash, said Kelce. Hurts didn’t hurt Wentz. Roseman needed to assemble a more talented roster. Pederson needed to call better plays. Other Eagles needed to better execute those plays.
“[It’s] not that Jalen Hurts was picked, and there was some sort of internal battle and struggle going on [within] Carson Wentz … This is ultimately a culmination of a lot of failures on offense. I don’t know that the Jalen Hurts pick is a huge part of that,” Kelce said. “There’s always going to be competition. I don’t think Carson Wentz is the type of individual to let a situation dictate how he goes about his business.”
Kelce has been a compulsive truth-teller ever since he won the starting spot as a sixth-round rookie out of Cincinnati in 2011. It was Kelce who, in 2015, admitted that the offensive linemen were wearing down running Chip Kelly’s hurry-up offense in a November period in which the team played three games in 11 days. It was Kelce who, a few months after the Eagles won the title, admitted that the 2018 team was committing “gross errors” during sloppy practice sessions.
And now, Kelce agrees with most Eagles fans: The front office and the coaches have stunk as badly as Carson Wentz and his supporting cast.
Of course, Wentz and his supporting cast have been awful independent of the personnel groupings or the game plan.
“We should be able to manufacture more points that we’re putting up. We should be able to play better no matter what’s called,” Kelce said. “This, ultimately, is a failure on a lot of different levels to facilitate a good offense.”
Kelce made allowances for injuries that interrupted continuity; he and Wentz are the only offensive starters who have started every game, and the offensive line likely will see its 12th combination come Game 13 on Sunday. But the GM is paid to buy good groceries, and the coaches are paid to make the best meals possible regardless of the ingredients, and those things haven’t happened.
“We haven’t been cohesive enough — not just as players, but structurally,” Kelce said.
Louder, Kelce, for the people in the back:
It’s the whole.