Eagles' Foles: 'I'm here to compete'

AKIRA SUWA / STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER Nick Foles, though not the fastest quarterback on the Eagles, says he can run the read-option offense.
AKIRA SUWA / STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER Nick Foles, though not the fastest quarterback on the Eagles, says he can run the read-option offense.
Posted: April 05, 2013

NICK FOLES was trying in vain Wednesday to convince a group of skeptical reporters that he can run a Chip Kelly offense when Eagles center/class clown Jason Kelce stuck his head in the room and shouted, "Tell'em how fast you are, Nick."

As anyone who watched the three-part miniseries that was his 10-yard touchdown run against the Bucs last December knows, speed isn't part of Foles' skill-set.

He has decent mobility in the pocket, but you don't want him running the anchor on your 4-x- 100 relay team. Or the read option.

If the 82 quarterbacks on the Eagles' roster had a foot race right now, Foles, whose best predraft 40 time last year was 5.14 seconds, would finish last.

If Andy Reid still was the Eagles' head coach, or if Jeff Lurie had hired Gus Bradley to replace Reid rather than Kelly, we wouldn't be wondering right now whether Foles is a dead quarterback walking.

He played reasonably well in six rookie starts last season, completing almost 61 percent of his passes and finishing with the sixth best interception percentage in the league.

But the read option was an integral part of Kelly's offense at Oregon, and we all have assumed that he'd very much like it to be a part of his offense here in Philadelphia as well. Which would seem to leave Foles on the outside looking in.

"Whoever's the quarterback of your team, you build your offense around them," Foles said. "There are different kinds of quarterbacks. You play to the strength of whoever your quarterback is. I feel like I can go in and run anything.

"I have no concerns," about fitting in to his offense. "I love being a Philadelphia Eagle. I'm here to compete, no matter what. There are no concerns."

Kelly has said he's not necessarily married to the read option and that he will adapt his offense to fit the skill-set of his quarterback. But while he was saying that, the Eagles were restructuring Michael Vick's contract and bringing in mobile quarterbacks like Dennis Dixon and G.J. Kinne. So who knows what to believe.

"If you've got a good coaching staff, you adapt," Kelly said. "The best example of that in the NFL is [the Broncos'] John Fox. A year ago, he had Tim Tebow, and went to the playoffs. Now, he has Peyton Manning and ran an entirely different offense and went to the playoffs. When you're good, you adapt to who you have."

Or maybe you don't. While Foles was playing can-to-can-not with reporters Wednesday, Kelly was not very far away chatting with the draft's top quarterback prospect, Geno Smith, who the Eagles brought to the NovaCare Complex for a visit. Last month, Kelly, Lurie and general manager Howie Roseman flew to West Virginia for a private workout with Smith.

Smith didn't run the read option much at West Virginia, but has more than enough athleticism to do it. He ran the fastest 40 time of any quarterback at the scouting combine in February (4.59). They've also worked out or interviewed two other read option-capable quarterbacks - EJ Manuel of Florida State and Matt Scott of Arizona.

"I'm just going to keep working," Foles said. "It's a business. I know from the draft process I went through last year that teams bring you in and analyze who they think are the best players in the draft. That's the smart thing to do. That's out of my control. My only concern is getting better every day. I'm excited to be here and I'm going to keep working."

Kelly and the rest of the league's coaches were prohibited from talking football with their players until this week when teams began their offseason strength and conditioning program.

Kelly met with his players on Monday, but Foles said he hasn't defined his offense yet other than to say it will be up-tempo.

"We're just getting to know each other," the quarterback said. "Still learning."

Foles and Kelly aren't strangers. They faced each other in the Pac-12 when Kelly was coaching at Oregon and Foles was the starting quarterback at Arizona.

Kelly has spoken highly of Foles' play at Arizona. But just because you think somebody's pretty doesn't mean you want to be married to them.

"I'm playing for a coach I competed against in college," Foles said. "It's going to be fun. I have the utmost respect for Chip Kelly. We knew each other as competitors. Now I'm getting to know him as a coach.

"He knows me well. He studied me. It's not like I'm going into a situation where we don't even know who each other is. I feel comfortable. I'm excited. Excited for the opportunity to compete."

Foles said he "wasn't worried about it at all" when Kelly was hired as the Eagles' head coach. Said he has ignored the skeptics who don't think he's a Kelly kind of quarterback, just like he ignored the rumors last month that he might be traded.

"I didn't mess with it," he said. "I stay out of it. I was with my family and training. If something was going to happen, my agent would've called. But he never called. I was set on coming back here."

Even if the Eagles don't draft Smith or another quarterback later this month, even if what you see right now is what you get, and even if Kelly is willing to adapt his offense to Foles' skill-set, he still needs to beat out Vick for the starting job.

"I think Michael is a great quarterback," Foles said. "On a team, you want the best quarterbacks possible competing against each other. And Mike's one of the best in the league.

"We want competition. We want the best quarterbacks. I'll keep saying it. We're all on the same team. We're all going to compete against each other. The guy that can score the most points and be a leader is going to be the guy [that starts]. Somebody's going to be that guy."

And if he only runs the 40 in 5.14, so what?

Email: pdomo@aol.com

On Twitter: @Pdomo

Blog: eagletarian.com

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