Roseman shows full support of Foles at combine


Roseman shows full support of Foles at combine

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.”

Doug Pederson not afraid to get aggressive with play-calling

Doug Pederson not afraid to get aggressive with play-calling

Talk to Doug Pederson and he comes across … what’s a nice way to put it … dry?

Very nice guy. Very friendly. Very down to earth. But not the most dynamic personality in public.

Which is why his personality on gameday has been so surprising.

Pederson is a risk-taker as a play-caller. Aggressive and fearless.

Whether it’s going for it on fourth down with the lead, going for two after a successful PAT or throwing deep in a situation that doesn’t necessarily call for it, Pederson has proven to be the proverbial riverboat gambler that Chip Kelly was expected to be but never became.

“My personality is probably a little more conservative by nature, I think,” Pederson said Monday. “You'd probably agree with that.”

Pederson got a laugh with that comment because his public persona is exactly the opposite of his gameday demeanor.

It only took one day before we all got a taste of Pederson’s fearlessness.

In the season opener against the Browns, with the Eagles clinging to a 15-10 lead and a rookie quarterback making his first NFL appearance and a 4th-and-4 at the Browns’ 40-yard line, he kept the offense on the field.

Carson Wentz responded by connecting with Zach Ertz on a five-yard gain to move the chains, and one play later, the Eagles took command on Wentz’s 35-yard TD pass to Nelson Agholor.

Six weeks in, the Eagles are 5 for 5 on fourth down. Only the Falcons have converted more fourth downs in the NFL this year, and they’re 6 for 10.

In the win over the Bears, the Eagles were 3 for 3 on fourth down, their best fourth-down conversion day in nine years.

This is the first time in 14 years the Eagles have converted five or more fourth downs through six games.

According to Pro Football Reference, the Eagles are one of only seven teams in NFL history to attempt five or more fourth-down plays through six games and still be at 100 percent. The Lions are also 5 for 5 this year.

Pederson said analytics are a big part of his decision-making process, but he also trusts his instincts.

“I think it's both,” Pederson said. “But I trust our guys and I trust our offensive line and I think it sends a great message to the rest of the team, to the defense and special teams, that, ‘Hey, if we can convert this and stay on the field,’ it sends a good message.

“And on the other side of that, if you do convert, [it’s about] the message you send to the other team and the fact that you're going to stay aggressive.”

The Eagles are 29th-best in the NFL on third down at just 34 percent. But they’re one of only three teams that’s at 100 percent on fourth down.

“It's kind of a crazy deal when you're not great on third down, but you can be 5 for 5 on fourth down and convert them,” Pederson said. “It's a weird deal. But credit to the guys for the execution.

“I'm going to continue to look at it. I don't ever want to be in a position that I'm going to jeopardize the team at the time [by being too aggressive]. Looking at the five fourth-down decisions this year, I don’t think they put us in any harm at that time.”

Wentz is 3 for 3 for 21 yards on fourth down, with the four-yard completion to Ertz, a seven-yard first down to Jordan Matthews in the Bears game and a nine-yarder to Dorial Green-Beckham, also in the win in Chicago.

He also rushed six yards for a first down on a 4th-and-2 Sunday in the win over the Vikings. The Eagles’ other fourth-down conversion this year was Ryan Mathews’ one-yard TD on a 4th-and-goal against Chicago.

Pederson said as an assistant coach under Andy Reid, he always found himself asking himself whether he would be conservative or aggressive in crucial situations.

We’re all learning the answer now.

“Yeah, you definitely put yourself in those situations, as a coordinator and a position coach,” he said. “Putting yourself in those spots, it's a lot easier when you're not making the decision obviously to go, ‘Oh, yeah, I would have not gone for it there or not gone for it there.’

“Now, being in this position, it's my tail on the line if we don't convert.”

NFL Notes: Giants release kicker Josh Brown

NFL Notes: Giants release kicker Josh Brown

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- The New York Giants have released placekicker Josh Brown after police documents revealed Brown had admitted to repeatedly abusing his former wife while they were married.

The release came Tuesday shortly after the player issued a statement insisting that he never hit his wife during a six year period when he admits spousal abuse.

Giants President John Mara says the team was "misguided" in how it handled its relationship with Brown. He says the team hopes Brown will dedicate himself to rehabilitation and becoming a better person and father.

Brown was previously suspended for the opening game of the season for violating the league's personal conduct policy after the NFL investigated his arrest in May 2015 for spousal abuse against his now ex-wife, Molly. Brown was not charged by local authorities in the case in Washington state.

Dolphins: RB Foster abruptly retires
MIAMI -- Four-time Pro Bowler Arian Foster says he can no longer take the punishment an NFL running back endures, so he is retiring midway through an injury-plagued season with the Miami Dolphins.

Foster, 30, tried to come back from a torn Achilles tendon, but was slowed this season by groin and hamstring injuries. He announced his retirement Monday on the website Undefeated as the Dolphins began their bye week.

The team confirmed the decision, effective immediately.

"There comes a time in every athlete's career when their ambition and their body are no longer on the same page," Foster wrote. "I've reached that point. It's hard to write those words because this game has been everything to me ... my therapy, my joy, my solace and my enemy."

Foster signed a $1.5 million, one-year contract with the Dolphins in July after spending his first seven NFL seasons with the Houston Texans. He holds the Texans' franchise record with 6,472 yards rushing.

This season he rushed for 55 yards on 22 carries, and he had 5 yards on three carries Sunday against the Buffalo Bills.

"My father always said, `You'll know when it's time to walk away,'" he wrote. "It has never been more clear than right now. I'm walking away with peace. I know it's not commonplace to do it midseason, but my body just can't take the punishment this game asks for any longer."

Foster was one of several Miami players this season to kneel during the pregame national anthem to protest social inequality. His playing time was curtailed with the emergence of Jay Ajayi, who tied an NFL record by surpassing 200 yards rushing in consecutive games (see full story).

Jaguars: DT Miller out for year with torn Achillies
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- The Jacksonville Jaguars will be without defensive tackle Roy Miller for the rest of the season because of a torn right Achilles tendon.

The Jaguars (2-4) made the announcement Tuesday, two days after Miller left the game against Oakland and did not return.

A disruptive run-stopper whose 10 tackles this season don't show how important he is to Jacksonville's defense, Miller will be placed on injured reserve and undergo surgery later in the week.

Abry Jones is expected to replace Miller in the starting lineup when the Jaguars play at Tennessee (3-4) on Thursday night.

Miller has 244 tackles, eight sacks and a forced fumble in eight seasons. He has missed just six games in his previous seven years.