Eagles Coaches High On Matt Barkley

Since Chip Kelly took the Eagles head coaching job, it’s been heavily debated: just what is he looking for in a quarterback? So we asked his quarterbacks coach, Bill Lazor, to name the main qualities they seek in a signal-caller.

“Accuracy and decision-making,” said Lazor without hesitation.

Later in the conversation, he was asked to assess Matt Barkley.

“From the moment he’s walked on the field here he has been accurate, and that’s the No. 1 thing. Accuracy and decision making. He’s been decisive and accurate,” he said. “I feel like the way we evaluated him so far — without having played a game — has proven to be true.”

It was interesting to hear Lazor discuss the rookie out of USC. He lauded all the quarterbacks. Talked about Michael Vick’s experience, willingness to learn and natural ability. Commended Nick Foles for his composure and capacity to process information quickly and accurately. But most of the questions were about Barkley. From his responses, it sounds like Lazor has pretty high expectations for the fourth-round pick.

“You’re talking about extremely high football intelligence,” he said. “A great work ethic.”

Lazor noted how Barkley took on the role of “face of the franchise” after NCAA sanctions were handed down at USC and helped navigate the program through some rough waters. Said that when he worked out Barkley privately prior to the draft, the QB proved extremely coachable.

“He understands football and understands technique enough that when you ask him to do something different, he could understand what you were asking and could do it. Some guys can’t do that; some guys are really good at what they do but can’t change.

“We talked about him being a natural when he walked onto the field. He can put it all together.”

Then the question came: does Barkley have what it takes to play right away?

Lazor paused a beat before delivering his answer.

“I’m confident Matt is going to play in this league. I’m trying to get a guy to be the championship-level guy,” said Lazor. “I think we are a long way from determining how quickly Matt will get to being a championship-level quarterback. So though everyone wants to know, ‘Who’s the starter? Where are we in the starting competition?’ my focus is so far beyond that. You can have a starter and win six games, no one is going to be happy. We need a guy who can take us where we want to go and bring a championship here. The expectations we’re setting in our room and the standard of excellence that we are trying to be achieve every day is well beyond, ‘Could this guy be a starter.’ ”

Does he see any of these quarterbacks having that championship ability?

“Absolutely,” Lazor replied, “but we don’t do it enough that it’s happened here yet.”

While Lazor seems to have a long-term plan with Barkley in mind, his opinion is that if a rookie QB proves to be the best option, then you play him.

Offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur has been around plenty of rookie quarterbacks that got the nod. He was an assistant for Andy Reid when Donovan McNabb eventually took over as the starter in 1999; was the offensive coordinator in St. Louis when Sam Bradford was named Offensive Rookie Of the Year in 2010; went with Brandon Weeden last season when he was head coach of the Browns.

How do you know if a rookie QB is ready?

“You never totally know,” said Shurmur. “But just by watching them function in practice first, all your training sessions and then you get to see them in all your preseason games. And if they’re not a guy who starts in Week 1, there may be a reason why he’s in; the guy ahead of him maybe isn’t playing well. At some point they’re in there. You thought enough of them to draft them, you thought enough of him to put him in there, and it just happens.”

If Barkley is to see the field his rookie season, he is going to have to find a way to leap frog not just one, but two quarterbacks. Vick and Foles are splitting the first-team reps and competing for the starting gig. Barkley is third currently in the pecking order, even if there isn’t an official depth chart at the moment. But he’ll have plenty of opportunity between now and September to try and nudge further into the conversation.

“He’s getting more reps here then he would get, I’m pretty certain, in other places because of the way we structure our training sessions. That’s not an issue, and he’s doing a good job with the ones he’s getting,” said Shurmur. “Plus he comes in with a very solid foundation of how to play quarterback. And there’s something about what he did at college that’s really going to help him at this level. You don’t throw for over 10,000 yards and just get lucky a lot. That’s not the way it works.

“He’s done a lot of things he needs to do, and we’re just trying to get him up to speed with the way we do it.”

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  • GumboGumbo

    Barkley is better off sitting behind Vick/Foles for a year to learn. Yes, there have been rookie QBs that have come in, won the staring job, and made an immediate impact (especially last year) but I don’t see Barkley doing the same. After 2013 Vick will move on and Foles might also. Stay patient Philly. Your time is coming.

    • xlGmanlx

      Or he could beat out everybody in a true open competition and start a la russel wilson etc. Who knows, but I agree, I like where this is heading.

  • Duh!! the kids good…keep doing your thing Matt. All the doubters can stand at the back of the line

  • This is all you can really ask from a 4th round QB in the spring. Make the most of your limited snaps, make the coaches keep an eye on you. I have no doubt that Chip will allow Matt to earn a chance if he deserves it.

    • cliff henny

      when he get’s his chance is when i’ll pay attention to the qb battle b/t vick and foles. at some point, Barkley will get a look with the 1’s and 2’s, and either MV or NF will be relegated to the 3rd’s.

  • cliff henny

    it’s also been reported Barkley is in by 6am, and spends up to 14 hrs at the NovaCare center. probably nothing he can ever do not to get lumped in with Leinert and Sanchez, but they never had this kid’s dedication.

  • Rick

    “Some guys are really good at what they do but can’t change” Is that Vick? Maybe I don’t know. ” You can have starter and win six games”. Is that Foles? Again I don’t know or can I ecen say those statements are in anyway related. I could be 1 million miles off base. However what clearly read between the lines is the Eagles Coaches think ( at this early fluid stage) that Matt Barkley is a “Championship caliber QB”.

    • Dempsey

      I think he’s just making a general statement about all football players there.

  • Corry

    Reading those quotes makes you think that Chip and Co. will give the kid a shot this year.

    • Johnny Domino

      By game 8, if things aren’t going well, I’d expect.

    • brent

      it’ll be vick until he gets hurt or they’re officially out off the playoffs; then the matt barkley era will begin

      • Johnny Domino

        I might assume Vick will start the season but if he is 2-6 with more turnovers than touchdowns, I think there would be a change sooner.

        • The likelihood of Vick being 2-6 with a strong running game and a solid online is slim to none – unless the defense is as putrid as they have been the last two years.

          Vick is a fumbler but he is NOT an INT machine – historically his INTs are pretty low – fumbles (as I’ve mentioned) are another story entirely.

  • Lukekelly65

    I agree that the coaching staff really likes Matt i think they see a really talented guy who has the skills to possibly take over as the starting Qb but i also think chip is smart enough to not throw Barkley into the fire if hes not ready… i think the team allows vick and foles to battle this year while Matt continues to get his feet wet. let him play in the preseason and see how he does if injuries come up maybe he gets in for a regular season game or two but i think the plan really goes into action next off season when Vick is gone… i think again they would let Foles battle it out with Barkley but by that time i think the staff will be leaning more towards starting Matt and getting this team run by the type of leader and signal caller chip really likes

    • theycallmerob

      I hear what you’re saying, and don’t necessarily disagree, but what’s to say Foles doesn’t grab the reins this year and hold them for a while? Nothing against Barkley, but I feel him and Foles have similar strengths. I would not take lightly the suggestion that Foles also succeeds in this scheme.

      • Lukekelly65

        Im totally for Foles winning the job… my point was just that it seems that the coaches are high on Barkley and they did pick him.. Foles is one of Andy’s picks that doesnt mean we should count him out i just think there is something to be said for a the guy the new staff picks.. i can definitely see Foles winning the job and holding it for years.. i like Nick alot and i think he showed alot of promise last year if he comes in and wins the job this year that’s great… i will support any of the three who wins the starting job this year but i am hoping Foles or Barkley step up if not this year for sure next year and give the team a true leader for years to come

  • Brian

    I didn’t really consider Barkley as a contender for starting game 1 in 2013. That is until I read this and this: http://www.philadelphiaeagles.com/news/article-1/How-Are-The-Rookies-Progressing/2f724a1c-612e-4fcf-b84d-2ddd71934a97 . Now I think there is a real chance that he’s the man. We’ll see, but it just got more interesting for me.

    • eaglepete

      that article makes it seem like we got a pro bowler with each pick ha.

      • Brian Meskill

        Lol. Yes it does. Lazor just seems to say a lot more about Barkley’s abilities etc. than he does when asked about Foles and/or Vick.

  • xlGmanlx

    I just want the competition, because I think it will push the best to the top. If you fold under competition for a position, doesn’t bode well facing other teams. I have confidence in Kelly and co picking the right one and am excited to see the process unfold, it is only May!!

  • knighn

    Lol. I apologize in advance. I just saw the movie “Ted” and the James Bond move “Octopussy” was a favorite of mine as a kid. Long story short, after reading the title today, the theme song “All Time High” popped back into my head!! For any of you Bond fans, just try to get it out of your head!!

  • Justin

    I’ve said a few times I’m eager to see what Barkley can do. I really jope he can return to the guy who would have been a top ten pick in the 2012 draft.

    • brent

      If you protect him like they did his junior year you’ll get a very good/great player; if they don’t protect him, like in his senior yr. you’ll get an good/ok player; could say that about most qbs, but it’s definitley the case with Matt

  • Vick and Barkley are the most talented Quarterbacks that Bill Lazor has ever worked around in his coaching career. I hope he’s not mesmerized by their presence and drives home what little he may have to offer if it’s going to be a benefit.

    Looking at his record he beings very little to the construction of a contender on neither the college or professional level.

    The best possible situation has occurred for Barkley and that’s coming to Phila and being paired with Pat Shurmur who’s a proven talented Offensive Coach and Quarterback tutor.

    Bringing alone Matt Barkley and, or Mike Vick isn’t too big a job for Shurmur

    Chip Kelly managed to hold Matt Barkley to 2 TDs and 187 yds as a Freshmen, in the games beyond that Barkley threw for 264 YDS 1TD , 1 Rushing TD in 2010, 323 YDS, 4 TD in 2011, and 484 YDS, 5 TD, in 2012.

    It’s pretty clear Chip Kelly is a bit more familiar with Matt Barkley and Nick Foles than he lets on

    • xlGmanlx

      He said accuracy and decision making is the things he values most, I don’t see him getting caught up in the charisma.

    • I’m meh on Barkley. And will be so until proven otherwise. Team after team passed on him for a reason – and while he may be a “gem” history tells us 4th round QBs don’t amount to much.

      I agree though – Kelly has two QBs he’s VERY familiar with – the only unknown quantity for him is M. Vick – but he’s obviously still very impressed with the freakish athletic ability Vick’s still possesses or he wouldn’t kept him.

      With that said I won’t be surprised if Barkley out plays Foles. If he’s as accurate as Lazor suggests than that should be easy enough.

      Can’t wait ’till the pads go on. That will separate the men from the boys if you will.

  • trojan4life83

    im glad to read phillie fans are excited about barkley. I am biased being a trojan fan. but i have watched every game in his USC career and you are getting a solid QB and excellent leader and youre lucky to have him. i wish he went to my team, but im sure being a raider wouldve been a bad thing for him. haha fight on matty.

  • I wish we weren’t wasting time with Vick. Let Foles and Barkley battle it out and then we’ll see if we need to draft a QB next year.

  • Interesting that when asked about Vick, the two things that Lazor finds the most important in a QB (decision making and accuracy) isn’t brought up.

  • Steve

    Most important thing is accuracy and decision making which bodes well for Foles and Barkley.Lazors words speak volumes about the possible pecking order.Barkley – from the moment he walked onto the field,accuracy was the number 1 thing.Accuracy and decision making….Foles – composure and ability to process information quickly and accurately…..Vick – experience,willingness to learn and natural ability…..Vick just recently said he learned how to carry the ball after numerous years in the league and experience has proven to show that he will take unnecessary hits,make bad passes,espscially in the red zone,turn the ball over and have passes batted down.Spend more time on the disabled list then on the field.He also is not able to run away from defenders like he did when he first came into the league,I think the writing is on the wall.

  • listen, Philadelphia, i have seen every game Barkley aka The Pious Passer has played, and he never led ANY 4th Qtr comebacks in his FOUR YEARS of starting at Sothern Cal!! he has ALWAYS choked under pressure. i mean, HOW can you be the starting QB and NOT lead a 4th Qtr comeback in FOUR FULL seasons???

    and his whole goody two shoes act is sanctimonious bull $hit!! he mocks opponents when he’s winning and when Trojans fall behind, he gets this vacant, glazed look and checks out. i love my Trojans and he broke my heart numerous times. good luck he you play him, you’ll need it.