Foles' former coach still admires his resilience

North team quarterback Tajh Boyd of Clemson came up short at the weigh-in. AP
North team quarterback Tajh Boyd of Clemson came up short at the weigh-in. AP
Posted: January 22, 2014

MOBILE, Ala. - Frank Sceflo didn't know if Nick Foles would be an NFL starting quarterback. He doesn't know even after the Eagles quarterback's record-setting season if his former pupil will be the team's long-term solution at the position.

But one thing Sceflo said he knows about Foles is that when he hits a rough patch, he'll do whatever is necessary to weather the storm. He has already bounced back from a career-worst performance against the Cowboys in October.

But Foles' remarkable month of November was followed by an inconsistent December and finally a performance in the playoffs that was good but not nearly good enough. And it should get only more difficult now that defensive coordinators have the offseason to break down Foles' tendencies.

"People are going to adjust to him. Coaches are too good in this league," said Sceflo, who was Foles' quarterbacks coach at the University of Arizona. "The resiliency that Nick has as a person will carry over as a quarterback so when things don't go well - and they won't because there are going to be times when he has bad games and bad stretches - he's going to be able to overcome what I call the mudslide.

"Sometimes it happens with guys who don't have that inner fire because of the way they were brought up and raised."

Sceflo said he saw it in college when the Wildcats endured a 4-8 season in Foles' senior season and he was battered playing behind an inexperienced offensive line.

And then there was his performance during Senior Bowl week two years ago when, Foles later said, he struggled with accuracy during practices. But he stepped up in the game, completing 11 of 15 passes for 136 yards and a touchdown, outperforming Russell Wilson, Brandon Weeden, and Kirk Cousins, among others.

The quarterbacks at this year's Senior Bowl aren't considered to be on par with the 2012 class. But draft analysts have been wrong far too often to put too much stock in predraft evaluations.

The Eagles, of course, aren't expected to draft a quarterback with their first-round pick. But with Michael Vick likely gone and the jury still out on Matt Barkley, they could be shopping for another developmental prospect.

And there are several here, including Clemson's Tajh Boyd, the multipurpose quarterback that could be of the most interest to coach Chip Kelly. But as Foles and the drafting of Barkley showed, the Eagles coach doesn't believe he needs a mobile quarterback to make his offense hum.

"That was just people's perception. Chip told everybody, 'I don't need a guy to run. I just need a good decision-maker,' " said Sceflo, who is now the Jaguars quarterbacks coach. "And I said, 'Hey, Nick's going to make great decisions. He always made great decisions.' "

There were times in three of the Eagles' four final games - against the Vikings, Cowboys, and the Saints in the first round of the playoffs - when Foles didn't make great decisions. And partly because of those mistakes some are still questioning whether Foles can be the Eagles' franchise quarterback.

"He might not. Who knows? In this league, he might not," Sceflo said. "Matt Schaub? Who thought Matt Schaub wasn't going to be a great player. Nick might not. He better wake up tomorrow and know that he has to get back to work."

Even though Foles threw for 27 touchdowns against only two interceptions and led the NFL with a 119.2 passer rating, there remains the unknown of whether his production had more to do with Kelly's schemes and play calling or Foles' abilities.

Sceflo said it was likely a combination of factors, as it typically is whenever there is success.

Of the quarterbacks here, Derek Carr of Fresno State has what many scouts believe to be the most NFL-ready arm. He flashed it many times today during the South team's practice. The 6-foot-2, 215-pound Carr could slip into the second round.

Boyd measured less than his listed 6-foot-1 during the morning weigh-in, but one NFL personnel director said he wasn't concerned about his size and that he outperformed Virginia Tech's Logan Thomas and Miami's Stephen Morris at the North practice.


jmclane@phillynews.com

@Jeff_McLane

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