Help Wanted: Leaders
The Philadelphia Daily News - Eagletarian
Help Wanted: Leaders
Paul Domowitch, Daily News NFL Columnist
Everybody has an opinion on what the Eagles need to become a playoff contender again.
So does Jason Kelce.
"I think we’re in desperate need of leadership on both sides of the ball," the Eagles center said Monday as the players cleaned out their lockers at the NovaCare complex just before owner Jeff Lurie made Andy Reid’s firing official.
"I think (quarterback) Nick Foles did a great job. But it’s always tough to lead as a rookie. I experienced that my rookie year. You haven’t developed enough respect from you teammates yet to earn that.
"We’re a young football team. Somebody said we’re the second youngest team in the NFL right now age-wise. There’s got to be a lot of guys that grow up, and we’ve got to come together. And there’s got to be guys that assert themselves as those leaders and people that are role models on the right way to go about your business.
"I think we have a lot of those (leadership) guys here. I’m sure the general manager and everybody will make sure that we have those in place for next season."
Kelce started 16 games as a rookie last year, but tore his ACL in the second game of the season this year. He was one of three starters on the offensive line to miss most or all of the season.
All Pro left tackle Jason Peters missed the entire season with a ruptured Achilles tendon. Right tackle Todd Herremans missed the final eight games with a broken foot.
Asked if he can be one of the team’s leaders next season, Kelce said, "Absolutely."
Kelce said being a leader doesn’t necessarily mean being a yeller and screamer.
"Sometimes, vocal guys can spark some enthusiasm and stuff like that," he said. "But that’s not really enthusiasm. It’s more like an adrenaline rush. And an adrenaline rush only lasts so long.
"The enthusiasm, the natural passion for the game, that’s how you lead. A guy doing everything right all the time. And you set the bar so that everybody sees it and replicates it.
"I’m much more of a lead by example (player). Lead by the way you go about your business every day, than how you look and talk before a game on Sunday."
Kelce said teams that have good leaders generally are able to persevere through adverse situations.
"There’s always a sense that you’re still in the game," he said. "If you look at all of the good quarterbacks, you never see them on the sideline at any point in the game where they’re flustered, where they think they’re out of it.
"That goes from the quarterback to the offensive line to any position. When you have that leadership, you have that sense that you control your own destiny at all times.
"Overcoming adverse situations is important to winning football games. Because every single week you’re put in a position where you’re going to fail or where a bad play happens. It’s the teams that are able to come together and overcome those (things) that are successful."
Guard Evan Mathis echoed Kelce’s sentiments.
"We need a lot more leadership," he said. "Guys like myself and other guys who have been around for a while, we need to step up and take the reins and lead it.
"Guys lead in different ways. A lot lead by example. A lot lead by talking to guys and being more rah-rah. We just need more (leaders). Guys who are doing the right things. Playing well.
"The best leader is someone who sets the example of always preparing in the best way possible, and then performing when it comes game time. That’s the best leader. The best way to lead is by setting an example for someone."