The state of the NFC East is so bad that a good way to move up, as it happened, was not to play at all. By sitting at home idle while the Giants fell to 0-5 with a loss to the Philadelphia Eagles and the Cowboys fell to 2-3 against the Denver Broncos, the Redskins (1-3) actually improved their position. Under the circumstances, a bye week was the best possible thing. Why, it was lemonade and bluebirds.
Wake-Up Call: Matt Barkley Comes Clean
During the run-up to the NFL draft, Matt Barkley downplayed talk about his ailing shoulder. Same for when the topic came up once he was a member of the Eagles.
On Tuesday, though, Barkley admitted that it was affecting him more than he was letting on.
“I’ve come a long way, come a long way,” said Barkley after practice. “My shoulder — I didn’t think it would take that long to get healthy — but it was really hurting during OTAs at one point. [Training] camp it hurt a little bit, too. But right now I feel it’s the strongest it’s been all year, I feel like I’ve got more power on the ball, more zip. I feel comfortable with the offense and that always helps with the timing of things.”
Barkley separated his right shoulder last November against UCLA, and was unable to play against Notre Dame in the regular-season finale or in the Sun Bowl against Georgia Tech. He did not participate at the Combine, waiting until his pro day in late March to throw in front of would-be suitors. The arm wasn’t right.
“It’s a tough situation,” said Barkley, “but you have to suck it up. It’s the NFL, no one cares about stuff like that. Feels good now, though.”
Barkley slipped to the fourth round before being taken by the Eagles. After early hopes that he would be part of the quarterback competition, the Pac-12’s all-time leading passer has since faded into the background. As the team’s third-string quarterback, he hasn’t been active for a game yet. That is expected to change this week. Michael Vick is dealing with a sore hamstring and Nick Foles could very well get the start against the Bucs. Barkley is next in line.
“In my eyes it’s just another week. The fact that I get reps with our offense is always a bonus,” he said. “I’m approaching it like I have the previous weeks of the season so far — like I am playing. Hopefully Mike gets healthy as soon as possible but Nick and I are ready to take over in the meantime. A little more exciting than a normal week, I would say, but my mindset hasn’t changed from a preparation standpoint.”
With limited opportunities in practice, Chip Kelly has Barkley throw 90-100 balls each Sunday before the game. You will often see the head coach just a few paces behind the rookie, looking on as Barkley gets his work in.
“I think Matt’s done a nice job. It’s hard when you have three quarterbacks and getting reps and things like that,” said Kelly.
“I’ve seen Matt improve, and I think the one thing about Matt is he loves football. So he’s around here all the time. He studies all the time. Obviously he’s not going to have as many reps as you would feel really comfortable in with a guy getting thrown into that situation. [He’s] not going to have the reps that Nick had but I feel comfortable in what Matt can do as a quarterback.”
WHAT YOU MISSED
Kapadia uses the All-22 to dissect what went wrong in the run game against the Giants.
DeSean Jackson believes not even Darrelle Revis can shut him down one-on-one.
The latest on Vick, who was limited at practice Tuesday.
Vick or Foles? And what about Jairus Byrd? All in the latest Twitter Mailbag.
Sheil offers three numbers that matter.
WHAT THEY’RE SAYING
The Eagles come in at 21 in the latest ESPN power rankings.
The hike can be explained a couple of ways: a sense from the six voters that Chip Kelly will get a handle on this whole NFL thing and get his team on track, as well as the sheer numbers being posted by Kelly’s offense. The Eagles are ranked first in the NFL in rushing offense and second, behind only the Peyton Manning machine in Denver, in total offense. The Eagles’ highest ranking, by John Clayton, was 19th, while Ashley Fox had them at No. 24, their lowest ranking.
On Sunday those yards translated into points — a season-high 36 — for the first time in three weeks. And there were at least signs of life from the defense. If that unit can be respectable, with this offensive production, the Eagles should be able to start winning some games.
Sally Jenkins of the Washington Post writes about the sorry state of the NFC East.
In the first month of the season this miserable quartet of teams has racked up just a 2-11 record against outside opponents. Only the Cowboys’ effort against the Broncos, putting up nearly half a hundred points in a 51-48 loss, rescued its reputation. The Giants and the Eagles, vying to avoid the basement, produced a sloppy stinker of a game in which both teams fulfilled various measures of awfulness before the Eagles won, 36-21. By the time they filtered off the field to scattered boos, there was a distinct stench, of exhausted kerosene fumes from burned out parking lot barbecues, mixed with a dank wetness from the fog, and a pronounced whiff of desperation.
Kelly addresses the media at 10:40. Practice right after that.