INDIANAPOLIS – This was the strongest vote of confidence yet for Nick Foles.
And it came from Eagles general manager Howie Roseman, speaking Thursday at the NFL Scouting Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium.
“There’s not an opportunity for a starting spot here.”
Can’t get any stronger than that.
Roseman was speaking in context of Michael Vick and how Roseman and head coach Chip Kelly told Vick that if he wanted to be a starter, he would have to sign elsewhere, since the job isn’t open here.
Until now, Kelly and Roseman had been muted in their support of Foles, qualifying their praise of the 24-year-old second-year quarterback with comments about competition at quarterback and the possibility of drafting a quarterback.
But this was pretty definitive.
“I think that we have tremendous support for Nick,” Roseman said in a chat with Philly writers covering the combine. “I think we’ve been unquestioned about Nick. Even when we talk about Mike Vick, that there’s not an opportunity for a starting spot here, I think that’s a reflection on Nick Foles and where he is in his career.
“It’s exciting to think he’s in his second year in this league and really one year in the system under Coach Kelly and [there is a lot of] room for growth. So I think he has tremendous support within the building and within the organization and [we’re] really excited about him as a player and a person in the Eagles organization.”
Even though Foles threw 27 touchdowns and just two interceptions during the regular season, led the NFL with a 119.2 passer rating, went 8-2 in 10 starts and led the Eagles to the playoffs, there’s been a sense among fans and media that the Eagles still aren’t sold on the former third-round pick from Arizona.
It only adds to that sense when Kelly and Roseman speak constantly about bringing in competition at the quarterback position.
Kelly did that the day after the season ended, and Roseman actually did it earlier in the day Thursday, speaking at a podium for the national media.
“We’re about competition,” he said. “We’re about increasing competition at every position. I don’t think it’s a slight at anybody on our football team. But everyone needs to be pushed a little bit.
“I know that’s a big part of how I act every day. I wake up every morning with a determination that we’ve got to get better. That’s how Nick thinks too. It’s not an indictment on him or any other player on our roster.”
Later, Roseman explained that competition at quarterback doesn’t necessarily mean the Eagles are planning to bring in a quarterback to compete with Foles.
It’s just part of the culture Kelly is trying to bring to the Eagles.
That’s a huge distinction, and it amounts to the strongest commentary we’ve heard yet indicating that the Eagles are moving forward with the 24-year-old Foles as the guy.
“Nobody’s saying we’re bringing in competition for Nick Foles or outwardly looking for competition for Nick Foles, we’re saying we’re looking for competition throughout our roster,” Roseman said.
“And we’ve said that when we had Donovan McNabb, we said that when we had Kevin Kolb, we said that when we had Michael Vick. That if there was an opportunity in the draft to get a player at an important position, and in this case we’re talking about quarterback, we’ve seen how that pays off in terms of even having backup quarterbacks and how you can parlay that into other draft picks and I think that just makes sense.
“You can’t be close-minded when you go into the offseason to look for value in free agency and the draft, and I think that’s how we look at every position, and I think that’s how we look at the quarterback position.
“It’s a different question about trying to add competition to your roster at the quarterback position and not being committed to Nick Foles and trying to support Nick Foles the best we can.
“Throughout our organization he has tremendous support from all of us. You watch him at the Pro Bowl, and see him having fun and winning the MVP and it’s prideful.
“He represents us tremendously well. He had a tremendous year, he’s a young quarterback who really fits into our culture and our chemistry. I just want to make sure we’re clear.”