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Spadaro: Jason Kelce leads the chorus – Eagles close to taking next step

Jason Kelce
Jason Kelce

The Eagles close the 2023 calendar year on Sunday at 1 PM against the Arizona Cardinals at Lincoln Financial Field, looking to reach 12-4 as they end their home schedule for the regular season.

It's time to take the weekly trip around the locker room and visit a team that thinks it is thisclose to putting it all together and keeping it that way ...

Jason Kelce: Monday was a step in the right direction

The offense continues to move forward, with the win over New York the latest example. Philadelphia marched up and down the field on offense, stymied in the red zone with 2 touchdowns in 5 trips, but otherwise in command of whatever it wanted to do.

Center Jason Kelce takes that as a positive.

"The turnovers as a team and the penalties we commit hurt us at times, but we did some very good things and Jalen (Hurts, quarterback) played very, very well," Kelce said. "The reality is that we have to keep cleaning up the things that are very correctable. We're going to keep doing that and we're going to put ourselves in a good position moving forward."

Improvement. Kelce feels it. And he has the pulse of what's happening, no doubt about it.

"You just keep pushing and paying attention to the little details and you find out that you're playing good ball. We're in our routine. That doesn't change, no matter the time of the season. I think we know what we have here and we just have to keep working to improve on the things we're doing. We're 11-4 and that's a positive. We have to keep winning and that's what we're here doing."


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Shaquille Leonard: Learning how to be an Eagle

It has been a smooth month for veteran linebacker Shaquille Leonard as he assimilates into the defense, and last week he made his biggest impact with seven total tackles, including five solo stops and a quarterback sack, in 54 snaps, his most since signing with the team.

"I feel fine. I feel confident. I feel like the coaches are doing a great job of teaching the defense, so it feels good," Leonard said. "I think we haven't reached our potential yet on defense. I feel we can still take the ball away, stop the run more, and get after the quarterback. I feel like we're in the upward slope building to greatness.

"We have a lot to improve on, getting a feel for each other and so that's exciting."

Leonard said he has "done my job" when asked to assess his performance and he says the goal is to just "build off that and continue to get better each day."

"We're taking this thing day by day and we know where we want to be and where we expect to be," he said. "It's a matter of everyone working together and staying on the same page and building on what we've done so far."

Julio Jones: 'I look forward to every day'

Seven catches, 27 yards, and one touchdown playing 194 offensive snaps in nine games. That's the statistical line so far for wide receiver Julio Jones as an Eagle, but those numbers don't measure everything he's brought to the offense: versatility, depth, blocking, a winning attitude, and a veteran presence that means so much in the locker room.

For Jones, it has been a great fit.

"This is football and there are ups and downs all the time and here, I'm loving it. I'm enjoying the process, the role, what this team is doing," he said. "We're winning games and we have high expectations and that makes every day fun to be in here. You contribute what you can contribute and you never say that you're at your best.

"I compete with myself every day. I feel amazing. I feel great about being here, being in this room of great guys and what I've done. Whatever they've asked me to do, I've done it. That's what I'm here for and I embrace the role."

What is ahead for Jones? The offense? The Eagles?

"I don't put a cap on me, on this offense, on this team," he said. "The sky is the limit in my mind. We're working hard throughout the week and we're going out there and winning football games and I think we are only going to get better and better. I look forward to every day coming to work and getting better."

Josh Sweat: Sacks aren't a measure of all we're doing

He is a Pro Bowl defensive end and is being treated as such: Offenses don't want Josh Sweat to break loose, so they're rolling away from him, using the quick game, throwing screen passes at him, sliding protection his way. Anything to slow him down. That damages Sweat's quarterback sack totals, yes, but it doesn't diminish the effectiveness of his performance.

"I want to get sacks, of course, but I don't want that to be the measuring stick solely, because I'm out there winning," he said. "I'm right there – I have a lot of hits (22, one shy of his career high), a lot of pressures (72, nearly 30 more than his previous career high), and I'm still impacting the quarterback. I know I'm rushing at a high level and am affecting the quarterback anyway I can. I feel good about that. I feel good about where this defense is heading, and that is really what's important.

"We are around the quarterback so much and we're winning so much and I don't want that number to take away from me being a ballplayer. I'm doing the same thing I've been doing: Rushing, winning, affecting the quarterback."

On Sunday, it's Kyler Murray, Arizona's super-quick quarterback with a rocket arm. The Eagles have seen Josh Allen and Patrick Mahomes and while they are different in style, "the threat level is still the same," Sweat said.

"We're going to play hard. We're going to out there to win a big ballgame," he said. "We know what this means. We're locked in. All on board. Excited for this game on Sunday."

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