SCOTTSDALE, AZ -- Jason Kelce sees it all from the unique perspective of his center position. A young veteran who is one of the Eagles' leaders, Kelce thinks this football team is a step here, a move there away from being among the NFL's elite.
"I really believe that," Kelce said on Friday following Pro Bowl practice for Team Carter at Scottsdale Community College. The Pro Bowl is played on Sunday night (8 p.m., ET, ESPN) and Kelce, a first-time Pro Bowl player, is enjoying his time in Arizona with the game's best players. "We won 10 games this year and there were a lot of points during the season when we were really, really good. Really what it comes down to is consistency and we know that.
"We need to make a couple of corrections in this offseason, get a few pieces and I think we'll go from a good team to a great team."
Two thousand and 14 wasn't an easy one for Kelce, who suffered a sports hernia injury suffered in the Week 3 win over Washington. Kelce made it back to the lineup after missing four games, but he was never 100 percent healthy the rest of the season. He says now that he's only about "95 percent" healthy, and the Eagles haven't played since December.
Injuries like the one Kelce suffered hampered the offensive line and the lack of continuity up front stifled progress from an offense that still put up big points and piled up the fifth-most yards in the league, but still didn't play at the desired level week after week.
"The offensive line wasn't as good this past year as it was the year before," Kelce said. "A lot of that comes down to injuries and so much shuffling around. I thought towards the end of the year we did a little bit better, but we could have done better all year long. It's tough to put your finger on one thing. The guys who went in and played when we had injuries played great, but we had so many changes. Losing that continuity affected teamwork and hurt our cohesion factor. You need five guys playing together and building continuity up front."
Eagles Insider Dave Spadaro is on-site in sunny Arizona to bring you behind-the-scenes access from the Pro Bowl ...
The season ended with a win at the Giants, and the next day the players cleaned out their lockers at the NovaCare Complex and pledged to have a great offseason and then come back for 2015 better than before.
It's a message that Kelce lives every day. He's the Eagles' first Pro Bowl center since Jim Ringo in 1967 and is clearly entering the prime of his career. Kelce's athleticism is perfect for any scheme. He's strong enough to take on the huge nose tackles and quick enough to play into the second level of the defense.
And he thinks that every player on this roster has the same mindset: Get healthy and let's make 2015 a special season.
"We have to continue to work and get better and improve. We're really, really close," he said.
Kelce got away after the season when he went on vacation to Asia and he's got big plans once the Pro Bowl is over and he returns to Philadelphia -- he'll be at next Friday's Wing Bowl, in some capacity -- and foremost in his mind is taking the next step as a football team in '15. He and quarterback Nick Foles are very close and Kelce knows how frustrating it was for Foles to miss half of the season with a broken collarbone.
That injury had an impact on the season, even though Mark Sanchez stepped in and played admirably for eight starts and nine games.
Getting quarterback right, solidifying the offensive line and addressing free agency and the draft with success wait for the Eagles and head coach Chip Kelly. Kelce, like everyone in the organization, trusts in Kelly to make the right next steps.
"He's establishing the right culture and the right way to go about your work every single day," Kelce said. "You go out and get better every day. It's been awesome seeing how everything has morphed and changed even since last season. It's been a pleasure being part of this organization and this system. I'm here and the rest of the guys are having fun with me. They take note of the offense because it's so different than every other team, and they were joking with me when we were doing center-quarterback exchanges, saying, 'Hey, do you guys even do under-center plays?' It's fun. Everyone is curious.
"We know the system works. We just need to get better at it every week and become more consistent and then we'll be right there."