Philadelphia Eagles News

Celek: It Comes Down To Protecting The Ball

Brent Celek didn't want to be standing at his locker, cleaning it out for the season, before ringing in the New Year.

But the veteran tight end was doing just that the Monday after the Eagles finished the season with a win over the division-rival New York Giants, finishing just short of an NFC playoff berth.

Celek expected his team to be in the playoffs this season instead of starting the offseason early after a tough final four games of the year.

"That is frustrating," Celek admitted. "We had three games right there where we kind of blew it.

"But the good thing is, this team came back strong against the Giants. I think that shows what type of team we have here."

2014 marked Celek's eighth season with the Eagles, a season in which he said he still saw good things from his team despite the hasty finish to the year.

In the second season under head coach Chip Kelly, Celek couldn't be happier with the team he's on.

"I think the culture around here is amazing," Celek said. "I think the type of guys that we've had around here is awesome. I think we're just going to continue to get better. That's how I see the organization going. I see that's where Chip's taking it.

"It's unfortunate that we didn't make the playoffs this year; none of us are happy about that, but I think this organization is really moving in the right direction. We've just got to be a little more consistent."

Celek caught 32 passes for 340 yards and one touchdown this season, a decrease in production in terms of statistics, but he contributes to the offense in more ways than just catching the ball. Celek finished the year as Pro Football Focus's second-best tight end in terms of run blocking, just behind Kansas City's Travis Kelce.

Kelly has often said that looking exclusively at statistics like receiving yards and touchdowns can paint an inaccurate picture, and in Celek's case that couldn't be more true. He brings much more than yards to the offense, and he knows his role on the team.

"I don't care about the stats," Celek said. "I've said for years now. There were years where I had good stats ... it doesn't matter to me, as long as we're winning. I have a job to do on every play that I'm in there, whether that's blocking, running a route, or whatever."

He thought the team had an excellent season offensively, and most every measurable would agree. The only department in which the Eagles' offense knows it has to be much better next season is with turnovers, and Celek acknowledged that. He, himself, committed a costly fumble in the Eagles' Week 15 loss to Dallas.

"I think we had a good offensive season except for the fact that we turned the ball over," Celek explained. "That's one of the biggest stats when it comes to winning and losing in football. We screwed that up. So we've just got to protect the ball.

"We protect the ball, we're not standing here right now having exit meetings."

In his quest to help the Eagles avoid another early end to the season next year, Celek is ready to hit the offseason as hard as he can and keep improving, day in and day out. He had a great year, but he still sees room for improvement, and he doesn't want to let it go to waste.

"I'm the type of person that says, 'Let's go get better,'" Celek said. "Obviously we weren't good enough to do it this year, so let's all work this offseason, get better, come back even stronger and use it as motivation to be one of the best teams in the league."

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