Spadaro: Jason Kelce maintains focus despite whirlwind of outside distractions
This is as straightforward as it can be for Eagles center Jason Kelce. The Eagles have a football game to win tonight and that is the sole focus. Win the game. Beat the Kansas City Chiefs.
For one of the leaders of this 8-1 team who has seen everything in the NFL, all of the surrounding interest – at the very highest level for football fans around the world – stays on the outside. Kelce is laser-beaming the details of what it requires to be a Kansas City team that is 7-2 in 2023 after defeating Philadelphia to win Super Bowl LVII in February.
“We’re more just focused on this one. They’re a much different team right now. The defense is playing unbelievable football. The offense always does with the playmakers that they have, the quarterback that they have, Pat Mahomes and Andy Reid,” Kelce said in the days leading up to tonight. “The thing that stands out, that’s drastically different, is their defense is playing really, really good football right now. They play well as a unit, they have great players, (Chiefs Defensive Coordinator Steve) Spaguolo, I’ve played against him a lot. He’s doing some really, really good things right now. So, we’re very much trying to prepare.”
One of Kansas City’s offensive playmakers is Travis Kelce, Jason’s brother, and we’ve been down this road before so for Jason Kelce there is no extra motivation to beat his sibling, nor is there a “revenge” part of the equation and nobody on the Eagles is thinking about what happened in February.
What we have here tonight is a game between two of the NFL’s best teams on a prime-time stage with big-time implications for both teams in their respective postseason pictures.
Kelce’s focus is on a Chiefs defense that allows just 15.9 points per game and that wins with strong personnel, excellent coaching, and a scheme that brings pressure and also creates the illusion of pressure. Kansas City hasn’t given up big plays, either, and that’s part of its magic. They can get to the quarterback and affect the pocket and not give up “X” plays on the back end.
There is a lot to prepare for when an offense plays the Chiefs.
“They play well as a unit, they disguise things – things look similar – so it’s hard to tell what’s coming, when,” Kelce said. “You have to be on your ‘A’ game.”
Kelce says that everything that goes on around him – the fame, the attention – for both him and his brother has been “a whirlwind and you try to take it one day at a time and keep doing what you’ve been doing.” The rivalry between Jason and Travis on the field is undeniable – the Eagles have not beaten Kansas City since Kelce has been here – and that continues. Kelce has his focus on the football aspect of things, but there is also no denying the rest of it.
“As with every week, even though there is a lot of familiarity and there is a lot of personal attachment to this game on my side, I think you really focus on ‘what do we need to do.’ I think if you look at that outside noise, you’re really doing yourself and your teammates a disservice, so the same things that allow us to be successful every week are going to come down to this week – taking care of the football, being smart, executing in the red zone. Things that we’ve improved on throughout the season,” Kelce said.
“If we can continue to do those things well this week offensively, and the defense continues to focus on the things they need to do, I think, regardless of who we’re playing, we’ll be in a good position.”