Monday, August 29, 2011

It's Official Rookie Jason Kelce Is The Starter At Center


Everybody swarmed rookie Jason Kelce’s locker when he walked into the Birds locker room at about 12:30pm this afternoon. We had talked to veteran center Jamaal Jackson, so now it was time to talk to the rookie.

We knew Jackson wasn’t going to be a happy camper after we heard offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg a hour earlier. When asked whether the rookie was going to be starting at center again, the guy who calls the Eagles offensive played responded, “Right now, he’s the starting center, yes,”.

Notice that Mornhinweg said “right now” before the starting part. That was a courtesy line for Jackson, but it’s just two words that don’t mean anything. Yes “Right Now” Kelce is starting and I can tell you that the youngster will be the Eagles starting center as long as Howard Mudd is the offensive line coach and he’s healthy.

Jackson knows what time it is. He knows the deck was stacked against him and Kelce is Mudd’s kind of center, undersized and athletic.

“You call it competition if you want,” the veteran center said. “I don’t. If he needs help, I’ll help him, but competition? There’s no competition. There’s no competition. Whoever’s in there, they’re the starter, point blank. I’m just out here working. Whoever the coaches feel as though can get the job done, they’ll put that person in there. And right now, that’s not me.”

Kelce told us today that Mudd has had him looking a video of Pittsburgh All-Pro center Maurkice Pouncey, who like Kelce is a bit undersized by very athletic.

“I think the scheme suits my abilities as a player so I think first and foremost that’s why they drafted me”, Kelce told a group of media members at his locker today. “……..From a mental aspect I pick things up quicker than most people”.

Eagles head coach Andy Reid has a great deal of respect for Mudd. He brought him in here with the agreement that he would be in charge of the offensive line. Of course Reid is still the head coach, but right now he’s giving, Mudd free rein.

Kelce seems to pick up things very quickly and he fits this offense with all the screens and sweeps. Rather than having only the guards getting out in front of the screens, Kelce has shown that he will have no problems getting out there and blocking defenders downfield. I also like the way Kelce has been respectful of Jackson in this transition. He wisely has had nothing but good things to say about the veteran. The youngster knows that one day he’ll be the one on the way out.

Mornhinweg is on board with it, but in truth does he have a choice.

“I know it can work,” Mornhinweg said. “I’m quite happy with their play. I’m very confident that it will work. It’s a difficult thing to do. Difficult thing with the center position alone. But I’m real confident they will be playing at a high level very quickly.”

I don’t see how anyone could look at the Eagles game against the Browns and come out of it, confident that the two rookies on the Birds offensive line “will be playing at a high level very quickly”.

I hope he’s right, but if he and Mudd are proven wrong, we could wind up watching Michael Vick get helped onto a cart and taken into the locker room. I like Kelce and think he’s going to be a very good center in the future, but I’m no sure about putting him out there in the first game of the year against the St. Louis Rams and Jim Johnson disciple Steve Spagnuolo.

Spagnuolo is probably working on blitzes to run against the right side of the Eagles offensive line right now as you read this article.

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