This probably isn’t where Matt Barkley thought he’d be going into his second season in the NFL.
A fourth-round pick in 2013, he entered the league in what seemed like an attractive position. Michael Vick was on a one-year deal, and Nick Foles was an unproven commodity with limited experience.
During the regular season, of course, Foles seized the opportunity. And in limited action as a backup, Barkley threw four interceptions on 49 attempts, compiling a passer rating of 44.6.
“If people know me and they know who I am, not just what they saw this season, they know what I’m capable of and that I can throw the ball downfield,” Barkley said. “I can put the ball where I want it and make plays, win games and what-not. So I’m not worried about last year.”
But Year 2 is not off to such a promising start as the Eagles went out and signed Mark Sanchez. During the practices open to the media, Sanchez has taken all the second-team reps ahead of Barkley.
Asked about that decision, Chip Kelly said: “There is no decision. There’s no decision. We’re just getting reps. So there’s not a decision of who’s who.”
But isn’t Barkley getting fewer reps?
“It’s not less – we chart it every day,” Kelly said. “Our ones and twos and threes are getting the same amount of reps. G.J. [Kinne] sometimes takes the one reps when it comes back. If anybody is trying to make anything of who is playing what or how many reps, all we are trying to do is see if we can get three reps a minute as fast as we can go, get it on tape and coach off of that.
“So there’s nothing to read into who is where, what, whatever, because we’re not playing a game until September. We are just trying to get as many plays as we can possibly get. So I would not read anything into who is where or what.”
It’s true that the coaches mix things up all the time. But we saw a quarterback competition last year, and Foles and Vick alternated first-team reps – either by day or by drills. The truth is, if the Eagles were confident in Barkley being their backup, they wouldn’t have gone out and signed Sanchez in the first place.
Could Barkley still end up winning the backup job? Sure. But at this point, Sanchez is clearly the favorite.
Asked if he’s content with the number of reps he’s currently getting, Barkley said: “I think every quarterback would take every rep in practice if they could. Even in college, that was my M.O. But that’s not my say in this organization. Mine is to complete balls and make the right reads and what-not. So that’s what I’ll be doing.”
There’s also the injury factor. Sanchez is working through a shoulder ailment, but has not missed any time. Barkley had a shoulder injury coming out of the draft, but says his arm feels stronger in Year 2.
“It bothered me early into the season,” he said. “It was bearable, so I said that it was fine. It wasn’t falling off or anything, but it definitely wasn’t the way it should have been. It wasn’t normal, so it took some time just to get used to throwing the way it hurt last year. But it’s all healed up. I’m surprised it took that long to heal, but it feels good now, which is a good thing.”