Eagles' quarterback situation still unclear

031913_foles-vick.jpg

Eagles' quarterback situation still unclear

PHOENIX -- Asked Tuesday morning how many college prospects he would consider with the No. 1 overall pick in next month’s draft, Chiefs coach Andy Reid estimated anywhere between eight and 10.

Reid said he recently hit the road to work out two pass rushers -- Oregon’s Dion Jordan and Brigham Young’s Ziggy Ansah -- and would be keeping tabs in coming weeks on all the top offensive linemen prospects.

The natural assumption is that Reid wouldn’t pull the trigger on Geno Smith, the former West Virginia quarterback who will probably be picked in the top 10 despite mixed reviews from scouts and talking heads. The Chiefs addressed their quarterback deficiency by trading for Alex Smith.

But Reid, ever the salesman and bargain shopper, made sure to keep the clouds of smoke billowing out the Arizona Biltmore chimney during the owners meetings.

“That doesn’t mean Geno is out of the water,” said Reid, surrounded by a herd of Philadelphia reporters and, surprisingly, no representatives from the Kansas City media. “I’m going to keep my eyes open on everybody. I think Geno is a good quarterback. I’m going to keep this workout thing going.”

Hours later in the Biltmore lobby, Eagles general manager Howie Roseman likewise fanned the flames about his nebulous quarterback situation. Roseman reiterated his intent to keep Nick Foles on the roster and let competition decide the fate of his second-year quarterback.

Roseman also didn’t squash the idea of adding another arm -- he already has five -- in next month’s draft. He recently traveled with owner Jeffrey Lurie and new coach Chip Kelly to Morgantown for a bird’s-eye view of Smith during a private workout. That same day, Arizona quarterback Matt Scott arrived at the NovaCare Complex, presumably to interview with offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur and quarterbacks coach Bill Lazor.

Therein lies the confusion.

If the Eagles have already committed roughly $7 million this year to Michael Vick, and if they’re not averse to landing another passer in the draft, wouldn’t it be more logical to deal Foles now, when quarterback-needy teams still have time -- and picks -- to deal?

What is the benefit in having Foles sit every Sunday if he’s really not part of Chip Kelly’s vision?

“It’s the most important position in football,” Roseman said. “If you’re telling me that the worst thing we can have on our football team is we have a bunch of good players at the quarterback position, where do I sign up?”

That sounds all well and good. But this comes from the man who heads the same front office that twice dealt odd-man out quarterbacks for hefty draft compensation: Donovan McNabb after the 2009 season and Kevin Kolb after 2010.

Roseman was also quickly ascending the Eagles front office ladder in 2003 when the Eagles pilfered a second-round pick from the Dolphins in exchange for third-string quarterback A.J. Feeley.

This is different, Roseman promised. So long as Foles is in the hunt for the starting job, the Eagles don’t see value in moving in.

“I can’t sit here and tell you for a fact I know exactly what Nick is going to be,” Roseman added. “Because he hasn’t been our full-time player.”

Roseman admitted that his story is hard to believe, given the team’s reputation for sending quarterbacks packing. But an old ally backed Roseman’s claim. Reid was asked if he made any serious overtures about trading for Foles before he explored the Smith deal.

“They weren’t in a position where they were gonna let him go,” Reid said. “That was really never part of the discussion. We kind of had our sights set on Alex, and that’s the route we went.”

Roseman repeated what Kelly said in February at the NFL Scouting Combine, that Kelly has honest plans to have Foles compete for the starting job and looks forward to working with the former Arizona quarterback who once carved up Kelly’s defense at Oregon in 2011.

“You heard it from Andy, we have not tried to trade Nick,” Roseman said. “And to be totally honest, I understand that people don’t believe that. I get that. Chip came in, he watched him and he told you the truth. He wants to work with him. We want to see him at minicamp. We drafted him.

“He didn’t get a chance to play with his full complement of skill guys. He didn’t get a chance to play with his full offensive line. I think the worst thing you can do is trade a young quarterback before you at least think you know what he is and then go see him have a tremendous amount of success somewhere else.”

Roseman painted an incomplete picture of Foles, a third-round pick who replaced a concussed Vick as the Eagles spiraled downward to their worst season ever in Reid’s 14 seasons as head coach.

He won just one of his six starts and missed the season finale with a broken hand but also averaged nearly 247 passing yards per game and completed 61 percent of his passes. Mobility -- or lack thereof -- would seemingly be his disadvantage as Kelly prefers that his quarterbacks have some running ability to freeze the extra defender who comes down into the box.

Kelly has repeatedly said that his playbook will be built around the best quarterback instead of vice versa, but it’s telling that the two quarterbacks who have joined the roster since Kelly’s hiring -- Dennis Dixon and G.J. Kinnie -- are dual-threat quarterbacks with plus mobility.

Reid, who also looked for mobility in his quarterbacks to run his West Coast offense, said Foles “is mobile enough” to keep defenses honest and noted the 14-yard touchdown run against Tampa Bay, a game the Eagles thrillingly won, 23-21, on Foles’ 1-yard touchdown to Jeremy Maclin at the buzzer.

“Most of the quarterbacks in our offense have been mobile guys,” he said. “If you take the history of the West Coast offense most of the kids have run when needed, and you saw Nick do that against Tampa, when they played all the two-man they were playing. He took off and scored and had a couple of good plays. You just have to be able to do enough of it. He’s always been able to go when he needed to. I think that’s a plus.”

Jon Dorenbos advances to America's Got Talent finals

Jon Dorenbos advances to America's Got Talent finals

Jon Dorenbos' magic run continues.

The Eagles' long snapper on Wednesday was voted into the finals of NBC's America's Got Talent.

Dorenbos performed this incredible trick Tuesday night to advance.

Shortly after receiving the results, Dorenbos expressed his gratitude.

Dorenbos will play in the Eagles' preseason finale on Thursday night. He'll get some time off from the show, as he was part of the first semifinals. The second semis round starts next week.

This is all super cool. Dorenbos' magic has lots of meaning. If you don't know about his story, read it here.

Instant Replay: Nationals 2, Phillies 1

Instant Replay: Nationals 2, Phillies 1

BOX SCORE

The Phillies’ losing streak against the Washington Nationals this season rose to nine games in a 2-1 loss Wednesday night at Citizens Bank Park.
 
The Phils gave up five first-inning runs and had just nine hits in being swept in the three-game series. They had four hits Monday night, three on Tuesday and two on Wednesday.
 
The Phils entered the game hitting .239 as a team. Only San Diego was worse in the majors.
 
The Phillies have lost three in a row and seven of their last nine.
 
Starting pitching report
Adam Morgan absorbed his ninth loss but had the best of his 16 starts in the majors this season. The lefty gave up a first-inning home run to Jayson Werth then did not allow another run until there were two outs in the seventh. He was one strike away from getting out of the frame with a 1-1 tie when he gave up a full-count RBI single to Wilson Ramos.
 
In all, Morgan gave up just three hits in 6 2/3 innings. He walked none and struck out five. He had entered the game with a 6.50 ERA and lowered it to 6.21.
 
Washington lefty Gio Gonzalez (10-9) held the Phillies to two hits and a run over six innings.
 
Bullpen report
Blake Treinen, Marc Rzepczynski and Shawn Kelley closed it out for the Nats. Manager Pete Mackanin pinch-hit Ryan Howard against the lefty Rzepczynski with two outs in the eighth. Howard, hitting .138 against lefties, struck out. Rzepczynski stayed on for the ninth. He walked Cesar Hernandez to lead off the frame then got Odubel Herrera to bounce into a double play before handing off to the righty Kelly. Herrera has two sacrifice bunts this season, but was not asked to get one down on this occasion.
 
At the plate
Freddy Galvis clubbed his 15th homer, a solo shot in the fifth, for the Phillies’ only run.
 
Werth’s homer in the first inning was his 20th of the season. It was a bomb to dead center. It came off the bat at 107 mph and traveled 453 feet. Werth also homered in the first inning of Monday night’s game. He has reached base safely in 55 of his last 57 games.
 
Ramos’ tie-breaking hit against Morgan came one batter after Anthony Rendon extended the seventh inning with a two-out double.
 
Ramos leads major-league catchers with 71 RBIs.
 
Reinforcements coming
The Phillies will add three players from the minors on Friday (see story).
 
Up next
The Phillies are off on Thursday. They open a three-game series with the Atlanta Braves at Citizens Bank Park on Friday night. Here are the pitching matchups:
 
Friday night — RHP Jeremy Hellickson (10-8, 3.80) vs. RHP Joel De La Cruz (0-7, 4.66)
 
Saturday night — RHP Vince Velasquez (8-6, 4.21) vs. TBA
 
Sunday afternoon — RHP Jake Thompson (1-4, 7.86) vs. RHP Julio Teheran (4-9, 3.12).

Union goalie John McCarthy ready for 1st MLS start of season

Union goalie John McCarthy ready for 1st MLS start of season

CHESTER, Pa. — Long after Wednesday’s morning training session ended, John McCarthy remained on the practice field to sign autographs for a bunch of young campers.
 
This is a typical activity for the popular Philadelphia native, who in many ways is a perfect backup goalkeeper for the Union.

But this weekend, McCarthy will be more than just an ambassador for fans. With Andre Blake on international duty with the Jamaican national team, the La Salle alum will be thrust into the limelight and make his first MLS start of the season when the Union face the Chicago Fire on Saturday at Toyota Park (8:30 p.m./TCN).  

“Obviously he’s itching to get his first MLS game this year,” Curtin said. “He’s a professional. This is what he prepares for. It’s similar to a backup quarterback role — you have to be ready when your number is called, and I know Johnny will be. He’s a guy I trust a great deal. He’s a winner. He won big games last year, and I expect him to do the same in Chicago.”

McCarthy indeed had a memorable rookie season last year, starting 11 games in league play while playing a key role in the Union’s run to the U.S. Open Cup final. 

But with Blake overcoming injuries and growing into an All-Star this year, McCarthy’s opportunities for playing time have dried up. So far in 2016, he’s played in just one U.S. Open Cup game on top of the 11 starts he's made for the Union’s USL affiliate, Bethlehem Steel FC.

How has he dealt with such a change?

“You don’t want to change anything up,” McCarthy said. “You just want to be as consistent as possible, keep training the same and keep your mindset the same because it’s the same when you’re sitting on the bench. You’ve got to be ready to play — and the opportunity is here.”

Another international call-up for Blake left the door open for McCarthy to potentially start June 1 vs. Columbus Crew SC. But Curtin instead opted to go with Matt Jones, who gave up two goals but got the win in what's been his only MLS start. Jones has since been dealing with an injury though, which led to McCarthy getting the nod this weekend. 

Despite the competition, McCarthy insists he and Jones — and Blake too — have maintained a great rapport.

“We’re all really good friends,” he said. “We all sit next to each other in the locker room. We can give each other crap off the field, joke with each other and stuff, and then when it comes to [being] on the field, it’s time to work. And we work together as a group because at the end of the day, whoever’s playing, we want the best for them and we want to win.”

McCarthy certainly wants the best for Blake, who is set to start in net for Jamaica in a couple of key games vs. Panama and Haiti as the Reggae Boyz look to advance to the fifth round of CONCACAF World Cup qualifying. 

Alejandro Bedoya will also be involved in the final two games of the fourth round of qualifying as he joins the U.S. national team. And if he plays in Friday’s game vs. Saint Vincent and the Grenadines as expected, it will mark just the second time in club history an active Union player plays for the USMNT.

That’s a big deal, according to Curtin.

“Listen, when kids watch the game and they see who’s on the national team, that’s who they should all aspire to be like,” Curtin said. “I think Alejandro is a player every kid should want to be like. … To have a guy from the Union with this badge represent our country is really powerful. I think that shows the growth of our club. We want more and more of our guys to represent our country.”

At the same time, Bedoya’s absence will naturally create a big hole for the Union, who are dealing with injuries to other midfielders. Blake — who’s usually good for a spectacular save or two — not being in Chicago will be tough for the team to cope with, too.

But Curtin is eager to see some of his bench guys fill important roles this weekend — especially McCarthy.

“All goalies are a little bit crazy in their own way,” Curtin said. “I put Johnny right in that category. So he’s not fazed by pressure. I think he embraces pressure. He’s a fighter. He has a good strong mentality and he works his tail off every day in training.
“He’s one of our hardest working guys. He stays after to take shots, and puts a ton of work in. I’m happy and excited for him to get his opportunity now.”