PHOENIX, Ariz. – Doug Pederson didn’t hesitate.
The subject was new Jaguars quarterback Nick Foles, and it unsurprisingly was one to which Pederson – the Philadelphia Eagles’ head coach – immediately warmed.
“They’re getting a great person,” Pederson said.
That was the first thing Pederson said Tuesday morning when asked about Foles during the Coaches-Media breakfast at the 2019 NFL Annual Meeting – that the oft-cited thought that Foles is about as good a locker-room presence as can be imagined indeed is true.
“A great leader,” Pederson called Foles.
The Jaguars need that to be the case.
Foles, the Most Valuable Player of Super Bowl LII for the Eagles following the 2017 season, signed with the Jaguars earlier this month as an unrestricted free agent. The Jaguars while introducing Foles discussed not only his on-field skills, but his skills as a leader.
Pederson, who coached Foles as the Kansas City Chiefs’ offensive coordinator when Foles was a backup there in 2016 as well as Foles’ two seasons as a backup in Philadelphia, discussed those skills first on Tuesday when asked about Foles.
“He’s someone who can really bring that offense together, and bring that team together,” Pederson said.
Foles, a third-round selection in the 2012 NFL Draft by Philadelphia, threw 27 touchdowns and two interceptions for the Eagles in his second NFL season before struggling in 11 games as a starter for the St. Louis Rams in 2015. While he backed up Alex Smith in Kansas City in 2015 and Carson Wentz in Philadelphia the past two seasons, he also went 10-3 as a starter in place of Wentz the past two seasons.
Included in that starting record: a 4-1 postseason record that included three victories and a Super Bowl title following the ’17 season.
Eagles players and coaches talked often during the ’17 and ’18 seasons about Foles’ leadership ability.
“He’s not going to be a rah-rah guy,” Pederson said. “He’s not going to stand on the table and say, ‘Hey, follow me.’ He’s one of those guys who’s going to lead by example. He’s going to work extremely hard. He’s going to be in early and out late. He’s going to demand excellence from everybody.
“That’s who he is. I’m excited for him.”
A major question about Foles that will remain unanswered until next season: how he will fare as a 16-game starter. He never has started more than the 11 games he started for St. Louis in 2015, and he hasn’t entered a season as a starter since that season.
But to listen to Pederson on Tuesday morning was to hear a coach who absolutely said everything the Jaguars hoped to hear about the player they consider a franchise quarterback capable of lifting an organization.
“He won a Super Bowl for us,” Pederson said with a smile when asked if Foles was a quarterback who could lift players around him. “He lifted a lot of players up that year, so yes he is.”