Roseman shows full support of Foles at combine

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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.”

Eagles Film Review: Carson Wentz's improvisation pays off big

Eagles Film Review: Carson Wentz's improvisation pays off big

Carson Wentz takes pride in not letting plays die easily. 

In Sunday’s 34-3 win over the Steelers, one play he didn’t let die ended up being the back-breaker in the blowout. 

We’re, of course, talking about the 73-yard touchdown pass to Darren Sproles at the 13:08 mark in the third quarter. Coming into the second half, the Eagles had a 10-point lead, but this touchdown pushed it to a 20-3 advantage and the rout was on. This play was a tone-setter (see story)

“That’s something that we talk about a lot,” Wentz said after the game. “We always say that a play is never dead. I like to make plays when we need to and everyone just does a great job of getting open in those situations.”

This was the first big off-schedule play Wentz has hit during his three weeks as the team’s starter, but the signs were there. In the Chicago game, there were several times where he showed his ability to extend plays. We broke them down in a film review last week (see story).

Throughout the week, Wentz had been compared to Pittsburgh quarterback Ben Roethlisberger. One of the reasons was their shared ability to extend plays and make something happen. Big Ben showed his ability in the first quarter and almost connected on a huge touchdown pass to Markus Wheaton in the back of the end zone, but the receiver couldn’t pull it in. 

When Wentz got his shot later in the game, Sproles was able to pull it in, then make something happen with his feet. 

“I saw Carson scrambling this way,” head coach Doug Pederson said. “Darren was literally right in front of me and when I saw him wheel, my first reaction was to find the sideline to see if he stepped out to be quite honest.  He hadn’t, and Carson just — it was like in slow motion — floated that ball up the sideline and Darren did the rest from there. It was a tremendous play from those two individuals. I guess the last thing I did is I always look back to make sure there are no flags on the ground on those long plays.”

There were no flags. Touchdown. Game. 

Let’s take a closer look at the play: 

Wentz is in shotgun with Sproles in the backfield with him. The Eagles come out with three-wide on the far side of the field and a lot of space on the near side. 

Stephon Tuitt, who actually had a pretty good game against the Eagles, takes this route to the quarterback. When he gets to left guard Allen Barbre, Barbre either didn’t see him or didn’t react quickly enough. 

While Sproles is still running his short out, Wentz feels the pressure and is able to step up through the hole created by Lane Johnson and Brandon Brooks. As soon as he makes it through, Wentz still has his eyes downfield. 

Now Wentz is through the hole and sees Sproles finishing his out-route. This is when Wentz, on the run, motions to Sproles to take off. This is something we’ve seen Wentz do a few times during his three weeks as Eagles quarterback. 

Wentz was left with a tough decision here. He could have run for 10, maybe even 15 yards. It was wide open, but he decided to try to make a play with his arm instead. 

“I always want to be a thrower first,” he said. “Even when a play breaks down, I’m always looking [to throw] because that’s where the big plays are happening. If I scramble I might get 5, 10, 15, 20 yards, but I’m not that fast. I always want to get it to the guys that can make plays. We always want to make plays when they’re there, and that’s what happened.”

With the line of scrimmage at the 27, Wentz has enough awareness to run horizontally to make sure he didn’t cross. And as soon as Pittsburgh safety Mike Mitchell takes that first step toward him, Wentz sees how much room Sproles has to work with. 

Ryan Shazier, who was covering Sproles on the play, froze and then started to step toward Wentz too. He said he thought the quarterback crossed the line of scrimmage, but Wentz was aware enough to stay behind.  

Once Sproles catches the ball in open space, he begins to do Sproles things. Defensive back Sean Davis took a bad angle on him and once he gets close, the veteran turns it inside. Davis said he was trying to buy time for the rest of his defense to get there and stop Sproles. It didn’t work. 

“Man, it’s Sproles!” receiver Nelson Agholor said. “Did you think he was going to get tackled?”

While he’s blocking downfield, Dorial Green-Beckham actually trips himself up and does a somersault. But it didn’t matter — Sproles didn’t need a great block. He pretty much did it himself. 

“Anytime that you can put it in the hands of [Sproles] something special can happen on any play, and he did the rest of it,” Wentz said. 

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Now 22/1 to win Super Bowl, Eagles also the NFC East favorite

Now 22/1 to win Super Bowl, Eagles also the NFC East favorite

The Eagles crushed a Super Bowl contender on Sunday at the Linc. And Vegas took notice.

According to Bovada, the Eagles' odds to win the Super Bowl went from 33/1 to 22/1. Just nine teams have shorter odds to win the Super Bowl. The Patriots are tops at 15/4, followed by the Packers (8/1) and the team the Eagles beat, the Steelers (9/1).

With the win, the Eagles also became the favorite to win the NFC East, going from 11/4 to 2/1. They're followed by the Cowboys and Giants (both at 11/5) and last year's division champs, Washington, is at 6/1.

The Eagles are also 12/1 to win the NFC.

Of course, the biggest story for the Eagles this season has been the emergence of rookie quarterback Carson Wentz. He had his first 300-yard passing game Sunday and was named the NFC's Offensive Player of the Week. His odds to win MVP went from 50/1 to 33/1. Those are the same odds as Drew Brees and Eli Manning.

Meanwhile, former Eagles quarterback and current Minnesota Viking Sam Bradford went from 50/1 to 25/1 to win MVP.

While Wentz's MVP odds shortened, his odds to win Rookie of the Year actually got longer, going from 8/5 to 7/4. That could have something to do with the odds of Ezekiel Elliot (7/4), Dak Prescott (5/1) and Sterling Shepard (7/1) all improving.

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