The Wildcats got off to a 7-1 start that season and cracked the top 10 in the national polls. Things went south down the stretch as Arizona dropped its final five games, including a 36-10 loss to Oklahoma State in the Alamo Bowl. That was just the start of the problems. Plagued by injuries and offensive line issues, the Wildcats finished 4-8 Foles’ senior year. Longtime head coach Mike Stoops was fired midway through the season. Foles, though, still managed to throw for over 4,300 yards with 28 touchdowns and 14 interceptions while completing 69 percent of his passes.
“He played on a team that by their own accounts didn’t have great talent on the offensive side of the ball, didn’t have a great line, a young offensive line, and he was knocked around a little bit,” said Howie Roseman in a conversation with Birds 24/7. “You saw him constantly get up. And you went back and you watched him on third downs, and his accuracy and decision-making. And then you try to put a guy like that — where would he be if he was on a really good college football team? What kind of player would we be talking about?”
His interest piqued, Roseman took an up-close look at Foles at the Senior Bowl.
"His presence, physically, was imposing," Roseman said.
"All you have to do is watch our screen game, and see how he's able to wait until the last second to get rid of the ball because with his wing span, with his height and his arm length, he's able to reach over the top of the defensive linemen and still get the ball out, which is very tough to do. And then he's a very smart guy...And so he had all those things in him and then you met him and saw what kind of person he is and how hard he was going to work, and you put that with the talent, and it seemed like a no-brainer pick at that point."
The Eagles held their first draft meeting of the season on Monday. Roseman and his staff are in the early stages of formulating a plan for an event that is almost a half-a-year away. Really, the process of scouting and evaluating never stops. Their job requires them to constantly look ahead, to seek out answers for the future.
There is no bigger question facing them than this: Is the franchise quarterback they seek already on the roster, or do they need to aggressively pursue one this offseason?
The Eagles aren't ready to answer that question quite yet.
"When you're in the season you're kind of in this mode of making sure you are evaluating the big picture and not trying to ride the roller coaster," said Roseman. "When you're low not kind of throwing guys under the bus and when you're high, not anointing them to the Hall of Fame. And that goes not just to the quarterback position but all the positions. That's a time for after the season, in a quiet time. You go back and read your notes, you get in a meeting and you figure out what you have and what you need. Right now, we're just trying to win games."
Safe to say Foles will hold onto the job for the rest of the season if he can stay healthy and continues to play well. Michael Vick, inching closer to a return from his hamstring injury, will be waiting in the wings in the event that the roller coaster Roseman referenced rockets downwards.
Foles' stock has shot up and management is certainly high on him, but there's no point in drawing conclusions prematurely or altering their approach to the scouting process. It will be another five games at least before they begin having real discussions about whether quarterback is a position of need.
"As a scouting staff, we're making sure that we're as prepared as possible with free agency, with the draft, with the evaluation of our own players, so that when it's time to get in those modes we're able to make decisions," said Roseman. "Right now, we're not really in decision-making mode. We're in evaluation mode and making sure we're organized and prepared when we have to make some of those decisions. That doesn't mean when a player is playing well you're not noticing it and you're not excited about it, because naturally we are -- we want to win games and we want to have good, young players. But we're not going any deeper in terms of, 'What does this mean for the future?' [it's], 'What does this mean in terms of trying to win this next game.' "