Jason Kelce is the Last Man Standing on the Eagles' Once-Powerful O-Line
PHILADELPHIA - For most of the Doug Pederson era the strength of the Eagles has been the offensive line with Pro Bowl-level players like Jason Kelce, Lane Johnson, Brandon Brooks and Jason Peters giving Philadelphia a leg up each and every week.
On Sunday in South Philadelphia, during a 30-28 setback to the powerful Baltimore Ravens, Kelce was the last man standing with 80 percent of the projected O-line sidelined and Jeff Stoutland pulling his weekly MacGyver act, cobbling together a different unit for the sixth consecutive week with chewing gum and chicken wire.
The attrition has been head-spinning.
Left tackle has bounced between Andre Dillard to Matt Pryor to Peters and now Jordan Mailata. At left guard, it's gone from Isaac Seumalo to Pryor to Nate Herbig. Right guard has transitioned from Brooks to Peters to Herbig to Pryor and now Jamon Brown, who was tortured by Calais Campbell on Sunday. Finally, RT has been Johnson to Jack Driscoll to Johnson back to Driscoll and finally Brett Toth in-game against the Ravens.
“We have had some injuries here before, but obviously this is on another level," said Kelce. "The whole offseason and everything that has transpired this season, COVID and everything, you are seeing injuries up across the league. Everybody seems that they are dealing with this issue right now.
"I haven’t really been a part of something like this drastic like this in my career, but you are always trying to overcome this stuff."
For Kelce the only path forward is moving forward no matter the cards he's dealt.
"You are always game planning and coaching, and trying to get guys ready for whoever is going to be there on game day," he said. "At the end of the day, in this league, that is all that matters. You can’t make excuses. You can’t say we have this, this, and this. At the end of the day, do you win the game or do you lose the game?"
That's the bottom line that defines the NFL and Kelce refuses to grade on another curve.
"Is the guy that is in there getting the job done?" the veteran asked rhetorically. "Are we getting the job done as a unit? It could have been better (Sunday) for sure. Really good defense. It’s just part of the way this game is going and the way this season is going. You roll with the circumstances and try and do the best you can and find a way to get it done.
"... We've got to start winning football games."
By the end of Sunday's game when the Eagles were furiously fighting back, quarterback Carson Wentz and Kelce were the only two projected starters Pederson had left.
"Obviously more is on my shoulders," said Kelce. "I am trying to be a better leader and trying to make sure we are overstating communication and the guys understand everything that is going on. I have been honestly quite happy with a number of the guys who have come in and played. Some of these young guys have gone in and battled and have done a great job."
The grind continues for the three-time All-Pro with the New York Giants on Thursday night after a short week of preparation and the extra hurdles have provided a unique challenge for a player who's done it all.
"I don’t have the luxury of Brandon Brooks being able to help me out or Isaac Seumalo or Lane and stuff like that where we have had tremendous players and guys with a lot of experience," said Kelce. "I enjoy helping guys out. I enjoy giving of myself to other people to try and win a game.”
John McMullen contributes Eagles coverage for SI.com's EagleMaven and is the NFL Insider for JAKIB Media. You can listen to John every Monday and Friday on SIRIUSXM and every Monday and Thursday with Eytan Shander on SportsMap Radio. He’s also the host of Extending the Play on AM1490 in South Jersey. You can reach him at email@example.com or on Twitter @JFMcMullen
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