Some pretty high praise for Jason Kelce today from one of the NFL’s most highly regarded defensive coaches.
“He’s the Tom Brady of centers,” Ravens defensive coordinator Don “Wink” Martindale said Thursday.
Kelce, the Eagles’ only remaining healthy offensive lineman from the projected opening-day group, is once again playing Pro Bowl football in his 10th NFL season, and Martindale has noticed.
“I think that that whole offense starts with Jason Kelce,” Martindale said. “He is the Tom Brady, the Peyton Manning, if you will, of centers in this league. I think he’s playing at a very high level.”
Kelce is a three-time all-pro and three-time Pro Bowler. Only eight centers in history have made more first-team all-pros than Kelce, and all eight are in the Hall of Fame.
Martindale coached with Jack Harbaugh at Western Kentucky and has been with Jack’s son John since 2012, the last three years as defensive coordinator. During that span, the Ravens’ defense has allowed 17.3 points per game, 2nd-fewest in the NFL.
“Just like the city of Philly, I think he’s a blue-collar guy,” Martindale said. “But the thing that stands out is just how smart he is and getting (the Eagles) in the right protections, because he handles that show. He studies defenses just like we study offenses from a coach’s perspective. It’s really hard to get them in the right protections (for the defense) when you’re running different kinds of pressures and things like that, because he’s so good at doing it.”
Martindale also spoke highly of right tackle Lane Johnson, who is also a three-time Pro Bowler but hasn’t practiced so far this week because of a nagging ankle injury.
“He is a top tackle in the league as well, in the NFC,” Martindale said. “It’s always fun going against those two, especially Kelce, because of who he is and what a great player that he is. He is a perennial Pro Bowler. I know he’d get my vote if I was in the NFC and I could actually vote for him."
The Eagles face the Ravens Sunday at the Linc.