Eagles GM: Foles is our quarterback

Eagles' Nick Foles holds the football against the New Orleans Saints during a NFC wild card playoff game on Saturday, January 4, 2014. ( Yong Kim / Staff Photographer )
Eagles' Nick Foles holds the football against the New Orleans Saints during a NFC wild card playoff game on Saturday, January 4, 2014. ( Yong Kim / Staff Photographer )
Posted: February 22, 2014

INDIANAPOLIS - When Eagles coach Chip Kelly said after the season that the team would build around Nick Foles as the starting quarterback in 2014, he later added the qualifier that he is always looking for competition at the position. When general manager Howie Roseman continued to insist that the team is open to drafting a quarterback early in May's draft, it added to the perception that the team might not be totally sold on Foles.

But on Thursday at the NFL scouting combine, Roseman wanted to make clear how much the Eagles value their 25-year-old quarterback.

"Throughout our organization, he has tremendous support from all of us," Roseman said. "You watch him at the Pro Bowl and you see him having fun and winning the MVP, 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 the question of the quarterback position is a broader question about the competition level. It's not any slight on Nick Foles."

Foles lost a competition last summer to Michael Vick, but he relieved Vick and became one of the biggest revelations of the NFL season. Foles finished with 27 touchdowns and two interceptions while starting only 10 games. He added two more touchdowns without an interception in the Eagles' postseason loss and even left the field with a lead.

The team has been fighting the perception that Kelly desires a more mobile quarterback. One year ago, Roseman's message at the combine was that the team was not looking to trade Foles. Now Roseman's message is that the team is not trying to bring in a player to unseat him. That was made clear in the talk about Vick, who wants a chance to start.

"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," said Roseman.

When Roseman was asked where he would like to see growth, he compared it with a rookie pitcher in baseball. Opponents will spend the offseason studying the player and finding weaknesses, and the challenge is what happens during the second time through the league.

Foles' big emphasis from his first year to his second year was improving his footwork and driving the ball downfield. There was growth in that area in 2013, and Roseman expects continued improvement in 2014.

"And it's not necessarily in the numbers," Roseman said. "He's a young quarterback. He's [25] years old. . . . And he's going to continue to develop and get better."

Roseman did not back down from his stance about potentially drafting a quarterback. If a quarterback is ranked higher than any other player remaining on the team's draft board, he said, it would be in the team's long-term interest to select him.

This is part of Roseman's insistence on drafting the best available player, which will be a common refrain during the next few months. Roseman believes that philosophy will help the Eagles avoid reaching for players to fill a need, and will allow the team flexibility.

"We've seen how they pay off in droves if you get a really good player at that position," Roseman said. "If there was a part of the draft where we felt like we were getting really good value who was going to be a future starter and who could thrive, then we would certainly look at that."

Another quarterback, whether in the draft or free agency, would compete with Matt Barkley to be Foles' backup. Roseman hopes Foles is pushed by a potential new addition, but that player would not start over Foles.

"It's not an indictment on [Foles] or any other player on our roster," Roseman said. "We do have some really good players on our football team that are going to be starters. But that doesn't mean they don't need to be pushed or don't need to try to get better."


zberman@phillynews.com

@ZBerm

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