Barkley’s Play Picks Up Along With Pace

JJF_6627The Eagles’ offense did something out of character Friday night. It huddled.

Chip Kelly has had his group working at a frenzied pace during practice, with the idea that the games will seem slower by comparison. When Matt Barkley came into the game, the pace was slow by any standard.

“I think he was just trying to start slow,” said Barkley, “but he eventually got excited and went up-tempo and we all felt better for it.”

Barkley’s night did not start well, and it wasn’t all tempo-related. There were likely some nerves involved as well. The rookie was just plain off-target to start, missing high on several of his passes. He finished the second quarter 4-of-11 for 22 yards.

Barkley doubled that output with a 22-yard strike over the middle to Clay Harbor midway through the third. He sat in the pocket, did a quick scan, then zipped it right past the outstretched hands of linebacker Jamie Collins and into Harbor’s chest.

“The long third down that he ripped in there to [TE] Clay Harbor was what I saw for a long time when I was on the opposite sideline,” said Kelly.

The pace started to pick up in the final moments of the third quarter. Barkley found Greg Salas for seven yards, got right back up to the line and hit Harbor for a five-yarder. A four-yard run for Matthew Tucker, then a 20-yard dart to Harbor down the middle to end the third quarter. A quick screen pass to Salas to start the fourth, and the receiver did the rest en route to a 12-yard score. Barkley then found Tucker in the right side of the end zone for a two-point conversion to cap his night.

After a rough start, he finished the night 11-of-22 for 103 yards and a touchdown.

“When Chip got into that tempo package, I felt like I did better. I was much more in sync with what was going on. It felt right,” said Barkley.

“This is the next stage and it’s a bigger stage. This is the highest level. I got the jitters out and I can move forward from here.”

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