Jason Kelce learning to deal with newfound celebrity status – NBC Sports Philadelphia
Philadelphia Eagles center Jason Kelce has become a national sensation, despite the relative obscurity of most players in his position. At 36 years old, Kelce has not only been a beloved figure in Philadelphia for years, but his popularity has soared on a national level in recent times. He has a popular podcast with his brother, who is dating a major pop star, and even has a No. 1 single from a Christmas album with his teammates. Kelce was also named a finalist for People magazine’s Sexiest Man Alive. His rise to fame has been a whirlwind, and he admits that it has made everyday tasks, such as going to the airport, more difficult.
Kelce’s celebrity status has been a surprise to many, as when he was drafted by the Eagles in 2011, no one could have predicted the level of fame he would achieve off the field. His teammates have had fun with his newfound celebrity, and he has embraced it, becoming a folk hero in Philadelphia. This week, a duet he recorded with his brother reached No. 1 on the iTunes charts, adding to his list of accomplishments.
While Kelce’s star continues to rise, the Eagles will have to adjust to playing without star tight end Dallas Goedert, who is out with a broken forearm. The team will have to rely on a team effort to replace Goedert, as no one else can fill his role.
Meanwhile, Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes has managed to be sacked just 12 times in nine games, despite holding the ball for an average of 3.02 seconds. This remarkable ability has posed a challenge for opposing teams, as they try to disrupt his passing time and influence his ability to avoid sacks.
As the Eagles have completed their bye week, new offensive coordinator Brian Johnson has reflected on his first nine games as an NFL play-caller, noting that the more he does something, the better he becomes. This self-examination and reflection is an important part of the coaching staff’s process as they continue to grow and improve.
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Most centers live in relative obscurity.
They’re not the most famous player on the team. They are not the most famous player on offense. Heck, how many NFL centers can you name anyway?
But most centers aren’t Jason Kelce.
The 36-year-old Eagles folk hero has been extremely popular in Philadelphia for several years, but his national celebrity status has skyrocketed in the past year.
Kelce has a popular podcast with his younger brother, who happens to be dating the biggest pop star in the world. Kelce has a No. 1 single from a second Christmas album with teammates. Oh yeah, and he was named a finalist for People magazine’s Sexiest Man Alive.
How does he deal with his new celebrity?
“I don’t know. It’s been a whirlwind,” Kelce said this week. “It kind of started last year with the podcast and everything, and it’s been building more and more from the Super Bowl and my brother’s love life and the magazine People. Shout out to People magazine. I think it’s increasing.
“You just take it day by day. You just try to stay with it, you try to be realistic about it and you just try to stay the same person that you are. Harder to go out. Went to the airport. That is now more difficult than before. But other than that, I think you just try to keep doing what you’ve been doing. It’s clear something is working.”
When the Eagles drafted Kelce in the 2011 draft with the 191st pick out of Cincinnati, they probably thought there was a chance he would become a good player. But no one could have foreseen what happened beyond his success on the field.
As for appearing in People magazine’s Sexiest Man Alive issue? Yes, his teammates had fun with that.
“I think most people just have a smile on their face,” Kelce said. “I think everyone is a little tongue-in-cheek about it and just having fun with it. I certainly never expected that I would be eligible for that award. But most people just had fun with it.”
During the 2017 Super Bowl run, Kelce was a popular player, but his fame skyrocketed when he wore the Mummers costume for the parade and gave that epic speech. Since? Folk hero.
This week, the Kelce Brothers’ duet “Fairytale of Philadelphia” from this year’s upcoming Eagles Christmas album reached No. 1 on the iTunes charts. The song is a remake of The Pogues’ classic ‘Fairytale of New York’, which was released in 1987.
“I think everyone is really into it,” Kelce said. “Most of the people who are really excited about it are people who are familiar with the Pogues original. I think that song will generate a strong response from people who really like it, including myself.”
It’s just the latest addition to Kelce’s celebrity. And it probably won’t be the last.
Normally, an NFL team’s quarterback is the biggest star in a locker room. What’s it like for Jalen Hurts to have a celebrity center?
“I don’t look at him that way,” Hurts said. “I consider him my husband Jason Kelce. I know he is a man of many abilities and many characters. But he’s a guy that the city loves, that this team loves. I know one thing is certain: in everything he does, everything he puts his foot into, he always gives 110 percent.”
Dallas Goedert missing
While it’s certainly encouraging that the Eagles haven’t put Dallas Goedert on IR, they will have to be without their star for at least a few more games while he heals from a broken forearm.
Goedert is not an easy guy to replace, but the Eagles do have some experience. Goedert missed five games last season with a shoulder injury, so at least they know how to do it.
“Well, it’s very similar,” offensive coordinator Brian Johnson said. “It’s very similar to the way we get certain guys involved, how we put the guys in position to be successful based on play-in and play-out, and I know the type of competitors we have in that room. the kind of competitors we have in this building. Everyone is ready when their number is called.”
In terms of playing time, the man who will see the biggest boost is Jack Stoll. The Eagles’ TE2 will appear on the depth chart, followed by Grant Calcaterra and Albert Okwuegbunam. But it is not the case that this will simply be a 1-for-1 replacement. It will be a team effort to replace Goedert.
“It will be done by committee,” head coach Nick Sirianni said. “There just isn’t anyone else like Dallas Goedert.”
While the Eagles went 5-0 without Goedert last year, their first game without him was a 17-16 win over the Colts, which was one of the worst offensive performances of the Super Bowl season.
One of the biggest beneficiaries of the Goedert injury in 2022 was Quez Watkins, who saw 24 targets over those four games that he converted into 18 catches, 128 yards and 2 touchdowns. But Watkins is currently on IR with a hamstring injury.
While AJ Brown and DeVonta Smith will always be the focal point of the passing attack, those extra targets could be split between Julio Jones, Olamide Zaccheaus, Stoll, D’Andre Swift and Kenny Gainwell.
“Well, we have some guys that can fill that role,” Johnson said. “I think Nick said this before: Dallas Goedert is an elite player and it’s going to take all of us to combine for what we’re missing with Dallas, but I think everyone would like to have a chance to get involved and do what we want . able to put our best foot forward offensively.”
On the way to Mahomes
Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes will go down as one of the greatest quarterbacks in NFL history. We already know that.
But there is something he does this season that is truly remarkable. He just won’t get fired.
In nine games this season, Mahomes has been sacked just 12 times. There are 32 more quarterbacks in the NFL who have been sacked. And it’s not like Mahomes has an incredible offensive line. It’s OK, but definitely a bit weaker around the edges.
So that makes you think Mahomes will probably be off football soon, right? Wrong. His average throwing time this season is 3.02 seconds. Here’s a list of the quarterbacks who held the ball longer on average this season (minimum 200 dropbacks) and how often they were sacked:
Mahomes: 3.02 seconds (12 sacks)
Lamar Jackson: 3.09 seconds (27 sacks)
Deshaun Watson: 3.13 seconds (17 sacks)
Jalen hurts: 3.14 seconds (22 sacks)
Russell Wilson: 3.16 seconds (30 sacks)
Justin Fields: 3.23 seconds (24 sacks)
So how do you coach against Mahomes’ ability to not take sacks?
“That’s a great question,” Eagles defensive coordinator Sean Desai said. “The big emphasis for us is on understanding the whole of what we’re up against with this opponent – and that’s a big element, obviously 15 and 87 are very big elements of that. It’s really about trying to disrupt his passing time and really change that because, like you said, he’s elite at avoiding sacks.
“He does a really good job of holding the ball and creating and expanding play that way while he waits for his guys to open up. That’s where they are really artful. Our big emphasis is on trying to understand that fact and go after them in different ways, from a rush and coverage standpoint, to influence his time to throw.
Growing as a play-caller
The Eagles have completed their bye week, which gives the coaching staff some time for reflection and self-examination, which Sirianni has always called a very important part of the process. This year, the bye week was a chance for new offensive coordinator Brian Johnson to reflect on his first nine games as an NFL play-caller.
Did he see improvement?
“Yeah, I think you feel a little bit comfortable just like the players,” Johnson said. “The more you do things and understand the different ebbs and flows – and the different variables that come up over the course of the game. But it is certainly true that when you do something, the more you do something, the better you obviously become at it.”
While there have been many decisions along the way that could be questioned, the Eagles’ offense has performed very well overall. The Eagles are third in the NFL in points, fifth in yards and the team has an 8-1 record.
What is Johnson’s biggest takeaway from his own self-exploration?
“I think the biggest thing is that each game is so independent, and then when you look at each game you get so invested in what we have to do to win this particular game,” he said.
“We talk about this a lot with the players and deal with each piece individually. I don’t think that as a coach it differs from game to game. You will have to deploy different resources and use different strategies to win a given game.
I think you see that every week. Earlier in the season there were times when we had to run a lot to win, and earlier in the season there were times when we threw a lot. I think the way we deploy our resources is very important.”
Rain rain go away
The weather forecast for Monday in Kansas City calls for an 80% chance of rain and wind speeds of 10 to 15 mph. So the Eagles have prepared accordingly.
“Obviously there are things you do when it rains, on offense, on defense, on special teams, and every rain is a little bit different,” Sirianni said. ‘If it rains, what is the condition of the field? And then you do the same with wind.
“There are obviously things that, like everything we talk about, come from a bye week, whether it’s a Monday night game, a Sunday night game, whether it’s the first game of the year, it’s the same with rain games. You have a process that you follow.”
The Eagles don’t want to overdo it with their rain preparation. Sometimes the forecast is wrong and you don’t want to spend the whole week preparing for something that doesn’t happen. But the Eagles have to be ready.
And we saw them do some things in preparation this week during training.
That was receivers coach Aaron Moorehead hitting punt returners with spray from a water bottle on Friday.
“That’s more to simulate the rain and hitting the ball. The ball was already wet when we put it in the thing,” Sirianni said.
“So it’s just different creative things that we’ve tried to do over the years, and you keep trying to perfect your process so that you’re ready for any conditions in the game.”
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