Eagles' quarterback situation still unclear

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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.”

Nerlens Noel to get one-on-one experience while Sixers on road

Nerlens Noel to get one-on-one experience while Sixers on road

Being immersed in the team is important for Nerlens Noel, and so is continuing his rehab. 

While the Sixers are on the road for three days to play the Grizzlies and Pelicans, Noel will remain in Philadelphia to work out at the training complex in Camden, New Jersey. The team is not scheduled to practice in between games, so staying back allows Noel another day to get on the court.

“[I want him to] just start playing more and have a ball in his hands, get hit, physical, feel people, play one-on-one,” head coach Brett Brown said.

Noel has yet to play this season because of elective arthroscopic left knee surgery in October. He rejoined the Sixers after completing the first phase of his rehab in Birmingham, Alabama. There still is no timetable for his return. 

Brown has said there is a “classroom” element to Noel’s return. He has to learn a roster with new players and schemes. 

The on-the-court side of it is a reacclimation to the intensity of the league. Regardless of how many games Noel already has played in the NBA, there is an adjustment period getting back into the grind of the competition. Brown believes the time in the gym this week will help Noel prepare for the level of intensity he will face in his return. 

“It’s such fool’s gold to think somebody’s going to jump back into NBA basketball after you haven’t played for so long. I don’t care how athletic he is,” Brown said. “It’s a man’s world, this league, and there’s a physicality and there’s a real-time reaction you have to have to play in the game. You can’t make that up in practice, you can’t make that up playing one-on-one, but you can better position him instead of just going out to get shots. I want him to feel a body, get hit, hit back, play one-on-one, those types of things.”

Noel had been assigned to the Sixers’ Development League affiliate, the Delaware 87ers, to get in practice time when the Sixers had a game. The Sixers may forego another assignment and keep Noel at their facility as the Sevens also have two games in the next three days. 

Joel Embiid finally struggles in Sixers' loss to Nuggets

Joel Embiid finally struggles in Sixers' loss to Nuggets

BOX SCORE

Joel Embiid has been making the NBA look easy. Rookie of the Month honors, five double-doubles in 13 games, seven performances of 20 points or more … all having missed the last two years rehabbing from foot injuries.

Embiid, though, still is a player learning the league. Night’s like Monday’s lackluster showing are going to happen, even if it seemed unexpected against the struggling Denver Nuggets. 

“We’ve been used to seeing Jo have superhuman nights,” Brett Brown said after the Sixers’ 106-98 loss (see Instant Replay). “I thought Joel was down tonight.” 

Embiid tallied a total 16 points (5 for 15 from the field, 1 for 3 from three, 5 for 6 from the line) with four rebounds, one assist, a career-high five blocks, three turnovers and three fouls in 25:32. 

He had a quiet first half with six points (2 for 5 from the field) and one rebound in 9:21. The biggest struggle came in the third quarter. Embiid scored a single point off a free throw and shot 0 for 6 from the floor. By the end of three, he was shooting 18.2 percent. 

The big man said he needed to be better at passing out of the double team. He committed two turnovers in the third. 

“I wasn’t getting to my spot and I wasn’t getting what I’m used to getting,” Embiid said of the first three quarters. “I’m going to go back and watch the tape and see what I did wrong.” 

Embiid bounced back for another Embiid-like offensive effort in the fourth. He dropped nine points off an efficient 3 for 4 shooting in 7:31. Still, it wasn’t enough. 

“I made a couple shots,” Embiid said. “It didn’t help us win, so I don’t think it matters.”

Brown noticed Embiid rushing his game. He also thought Embiid’s balance was off, something the big man has been dealing with all season as he continues to find his legs. 

Embiid will not play in Tuesday's game against the Grizzlies. It is part of his workload management in which he does not play both games of a back-to-back. Expect him to hone in on game film until his next matchup, and get back on the roller coaster that can be a first year in the NBA. 

“It's just part of a young man's growth,” Brown said. “It just happens. I don't think we need to read too deeply into it. I think, in many ways, to expect from time to time not as good of a performance as we have been used to is fair enough.”