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Kelce explains why tanking is not an option for the Eagles

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Kelce explains why tanking is not an option for the Eagles

Rueben Frank

You want them to tank? You want them to play a bunch of rookies who may not be ready just to see what they can do? You want them to focus more on getting a high draft pick than trying to win a football game?

You want the Eagles to lose?

Leave it to Jason Kelce to explain why that's the worst possible thing a football team can do.

Kelce was asked Wednesday about the notion of the Eagles going young these last few games, evaluating as many rookies and inexperienced players as possible and doing everything possible to lose in order to avoid winning this watered-down NFC East and improve their draft position.

He could not have been any clearer on why that's a dangerous precedent for any team to set.

"Well, obviously, I think everybody's curious at all times to see what the young guys have in games," Kelce said. "Whenever a guy gets an opportunity here, 'OK, let's see what the young guy does.' These are the moments in the NFL, especially as an older player or especially I'm sure the coaches and everybody else, even fans, are like, 'I finally get to see this guy play.' It's an exciting time whenever somebody's going out there for the first time."

But ...

"That being said, at all times in the NFL the focus should be on winning the football game," he said. "Nothing else takes precedence. No player evaluation. No amount of curiosity from anybody within the organization. Everything is focused — in my opinion — in this league upon winning games. 

"You see a lot of losing teams sustain losses for a number of years when they have bad cultures. They have cultures where you don't try and win every week. Where you're trying to finish (with a bad record): 'What are we going to do in the draft? What are we going to do in free agency? What can we do over here?' In football, this isn't basketball. One draft pick isn't going to make us a Super Bowl champion. It might be a big start to a Super Bowl championship, but it's always going to be about the team. That's the greatest thing about this sport. And culture, and the way guys fight and the way guys prepare and the way guys go about their business, is a huge reason for success in this league and in this sport. So nothing takes precedence over trying to win a football game."

We always talk about a winning culture, and it's impossible to have that if you're trying to lose.

Which helps explain something like Alshon Jeffery taking Travis Fulgham's reps. Doug Pederson is always going to do what he believes gives the Eagles the best chance of winning, and right now he believes Jeffery's experience trumps Fulgham's potential.

Now, his judgment might not always be correct. He had Jason Peters at left tackle ahead of Jordan Mailata for precisely this reason. But the important thing is that everybody in the building believes the Eagles are doing everything possible to win.

And if that means you wind up with the 12th pick in the draft instead of the 5th? 

That's a low price for maintaining that winning culture.

"I don't care who you're trying to evaluate," Kelce said. "I don't care if you've lost every game, you're 0-15 and it's the last one you got. Everything is about winning. I know that won't appease a lot of people out there who always want to talk about getting better draft position or getting looks at certain guys to see what you've got for the future. 

"But the moment a team feels like you as an organization aren't doing your job for me to go out there and win, you've shown who you are. You don't care about me or this team. You care about the future. That's not what the focus is here and that's not what the focus is on any winning organization's team."

Jason Kelce is a very wise man.


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