Jason Kelce has a message for Eagles fans worrying about draft position | Early Birds
You don't build or maintain a winning culture by losing, the veteran center says.
Greetings, and if you’re reading this in the Philly area, welcome to our winter wonderland! It’s been a while, but I believe this stuff is called “snow.”
On Wednesday, Eagles center Jason Kelce delivered his second successive sermon-on-the-Zoom. Last week, his topic was how ridiculous it was that the Eagles offense had devolved into such a mess. This week, he talked about priorities.
More on that in a moment. First, if you like what you’re reading, tell your friends it’s free to sign up here. I want to know what you think, what we should add, and what you want to read, so send me feedback by email or on Twitter @lesbowen.
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The only true way forward is through winning, Kelce says
Jason Kelce is 33 years old and playing with a left elbow that was wrecked a few weeks back. He is the only Eagles offensive starter who has taken his post for every game this season.
So it wasn’t a revelation Wednesday, when Kelce spoke out forcefully against the notion that losing and obtaining a higher draft pick is something people should be contemplating, as the 4-8-1 Eagles face the final three games of their season.
The question had to do with whether Kelce, like many fans, is ever curious about what young players can give the Eagles. He said he is, but then he took the answer in a different direction.
“That being said, I think, at all times in the NFL, the focus should be winning the football game. Nothing else takes precedence,” Kelce said. “No player evaluation, no amount of curiosity, from anybody within the organization. Everything is focused, in my opinion, in this league, upon winning games. You see a lot of losing teams sustain losses for a number of years, when they have bad cultures. They have cultures where you don’t try to win every week. ‘What are we going to do in the draft? What are we going to do in free agency? What are we going to do over here?’
“You know, in football — this isn’t basketball. One draft pick isn’t going to make us a Super Bowl champion. It might be a big start to a Super Bowl championship, but it’s always going to be about the team. That’s the greatest thing about this sport. Culture, and the way guys fight, and the way guys go to prepare and the way guys go about their business is a huge reason for success in this league and in this sport. So NOTHING takes precedence over trying to win a football game.
“I don’t care who you’re trying to evaluate. I don’t care if you’ve lost every game, you’re 0-15 and it’s the last one you got. EVERYTHING is about winning in this league. And I know that won’t appease a lot of people out there that always want to talk about getting better draft positions, or getting a look at certain guys and see what you got for the future.
“Again, the moment a team feels like you, as an organization, aren’t doing your job for me to go out there and win, all of a sudden, you’ve shown who you are. You don’t care about me or this team. You care about the future. You don’t care about this. That’s not what the focus is here. That’s not the focus on any winning organization’s team.”
Kelce also said that a good coach motivates, and that it is clear from the team’s reaction last week, upsetting the Saints, that Doug Pederson is still motivating the Eagles.
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From the mailbag
What impact would the eagles making the playoffs/not making the playoffs have on moves this offseason with both the coaching staff and front office? — Sean Woolford (@seanwoolford) via Twitter
Good question, Sean. I can only speculate; I’m convinced no one really knows what Jeffrey Lurie is thinking. I have been convinced of that ever since 2015, when Lurie gave a fiery, exuberant endorsement of Chip Kelly’s leadership just before the season started. Lurie didn’t speak again until a little less than four months later, when he fired Kelly, and it became clear Kelly had been grating on Lurie pretty much throughout his three-year tenure.
So whatever gets said on national NFL TV shows about this person or that person’s job being safe, I always keep that episode in mind. Anyhow, until Lurie does or says something, here is how it looks to me. Howie Roseman enjoys a very close relationship with Lurie. He will be fired only if Lurie is convinced the organization is in chaos and there is no alternative. I don’t believe even losing the last three games gets us to that point. And making the playoffs would make huge, transformative change impossible.
If the Eagles make the playoffs, Pederson certainly isn’t getting fired. If the boost from Hurts lasts only one week, and the Eagles end up at the bottom of the NFC East, I think a coaching change might be the only way to regroup. But if the team continues to show progress, even if it misses the playoffs, I think we might see some sort of half-measure. An offensive coordinator. Maybe a quarterbacking guru who doesn’t have the OC title. I think the offensive bureaucracy built last offseason will be dismantled.