A Big Moment For Barkley

Photo by: Jeff Fusco.

Photo by: Jeff Fusco.

The dynamics have shifted a good deal in the short time Matt Barkley has been a member of the Eagles.

When he was selected in the fourth round of the 2013 draft, the quarterback position was still up for grabs. There was Nick Foles and there was Michael Vick and there were questions about both. At that time Chip Kelly‘s depth chart was written in sand and with that came possibility, especially for a signal-caller that the head coach hand-picked.

That depth chart at quarterback has hardened considerably since, at least at the top. Foles established himself as the QB of the present and is a quality season away from securing the gig for the foreseeable future. Barkley, meanwhile, still hasn’t worked himself into the primary backup role yet. Heading into these preseason games, that job belongs to Mark Sanchez. 

Barkley is still young in this league but has seen enough to know that things rarely go as envisioned in this sport. The first time that hit home in a big way was when Pete Carroll left USC for Seattle after his sophomore season.

“I remember thinking, ‘This isn’t supposed to happen.’ My plan was to play for him and then he just took off out of the blue,” said Barkley. “That was kind of a young rude awakening to the business of football.”

His senior year didn’t go as planned, either. Not by a longshot. He returned to play for a USC team that had championship aspirations. When the season ended, the Trojans were 7-6 and Barkley had a separated shoulder. Both things appeared to hurt his draft stock.

At present, he’s in a situation —  partly because of circumstance, partly because of performance — where he is behind a pair of quarterbacks, one of whom may be franchise-caliber. There is no clear way to the top.

“I don’t know what [the path] is yet. We’ll see in a couple years what it is,” said Barkley. “But obviously I do want to be a starting quarterback and play in the NFL. I definitely think I have learned a whole lot here and hope to learn a lot more. I don’t know what the future will hold but I’m excited for whatever it brings.”

Friday night in Chicago presents an opportunity to bolster his resume. The starters are expected to play just a couple series, so there should be ample time for he and Sanchez (and perhaps G.J. Kinne) to get in some quality snaps in a game setting.

“I figure every chance you get to be on the field in front of an audience is a tryout of sorts, whether it’s for your own team, your own self or for another team, you have to prove that you’re capable of playing in the NFL,” said Barkley. “I’m not going to be thinking of it as a test while it’s happening — I’m just going to be playing, having fun — but when it comes down to it that’s what is going on.”

Barkley did not fare well in his opportunities last season. Injuries forced him into action against the Giants and Cowboys in back-to-back weeks in October. He went 28-for-46 for 287 yards with zero touchdowns and four interceptions.

The 23-year-old has looked improved during camp this summer, both in terms of arm strength and command of the offense.

“I think just speed with the offense. Getting the plays called quicker, getting the ball snapped quicker I think has been improved. But also just speed once the ball is snapped within the progressions and knowing where the ball should be in a timely fashion,” he said. “Chip wants the ball to get in a playmaker’s hands as quickly as possible, and the right guy’s hands. There are five guys available on nearly every play so to make use of all those guys, and I think I’ve done a better job of that.”

It is likely that Barkley will spend the bulk of the season on the sidelines once again. And if things remain the way they are now, he probably won’t even be active on game day. That makes these next four games pretty important as he tries to position himself for the future.

“There are so many things that you don’t have control of in this league, so I feel if you can just worry about how your passes are, how your mindset is going into a game, how your preparation is and just knowing your responsibilities and your reads, then everything will take care of itself,” he said. “You don’t know who is watching you on any given day, you don’t know who is talking behind closed doors or what not. As long as I’m putting my best foot forward and showing them what I’m capable of, it will take care of itself.”

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  • peteike

    I thought he already had a big moment at an imaginary practice with that headline.

    • OldDuckMcDoc

      The photo makes it look like he’s so far down the depth chart he’s taking snaps from a ref, but not sure if that would qualify as a ‘big moment’.

      • peteike

        haha it does

  • 370HSSV 0773H

    Dear god, please keep Nick Foles healthy so we never have to watch Mark Sanchez or Matt Barkley play. Thank you.

    • Kev_H

      I think either guy would do fine.

      • Dominik

        If and only if Kelly has one week to gameplan for him. Of course, he had one week of game planning for Foles in his meltdown week, but that was just horrible execution – something that could happen to Barkley or Sanchez, too.

        One of those two jumping in mid game, we’re screwed. Remember, both of them aren’t used to being the back-up. That’s a special situation for a QB and both need time to learn that, imho. Only chance we’ll survive such a game would be a great running game, a D that plays to the occasion and tremendous in-game adjustments by Kelly.

        • EagleDuck

          Not sure I agree with all of your comments, but I’m with you on Sanchez. Hate that guys game and never want to see him come in cold off the bench.

    • Anonymous

      Think you meant *Dear Jordan Matthews

    • peteike

      Ill say this again, Sanchez is a fine backup. Its safer to have a guy that was a starter as a backup (and one who went to afc champ games) than a rookie or young guy coming in. Everyone remembers the butt fumble but forgets the complete lack of skill players on the Jets last few yrs. I mean really, were talking Chris Ivory and Holmes, just a god awful WR corp.

  • Brent E. Sulecki

    Hope he does well these next 4 games

  • Token

    I believe Kinne will prove to be more worthy of roster spot, but they will keep Barkley anyway.

    • JofreyRice

      Another thing we can learn about Kelly. We know he’s smart, but how willing is he to admit a mistake?

      • Wilbert31

        Hopefully way better than Reid. Great point. It will be interesting.

  • JofreyRice

    Almost sounds like the noodle-armed whiner has his sights set somewhere else. If he can’t beat out Mark Sanchez, then the Eagles were right to make a move to bolster the backup QB spot.

  • evanphilly

    Still not as big as a bust as Tyler Wilson.

    • Corey Dawson

      A 4th round pick on a QB is a complete flyer, no one really expects to get a quality starter there. Maybe a servicable backup or a short term stop gap guy. Anything more than that and you know you got lucky. Kinda hard to be a bust at that point.

      • evanphilly

        Well, when you cut this guy after training camp in the year that you drafted him and then he gets cut again, he is deemed a bust. There is still hope for Barkley though, he needs these pre-season games to go well for him though, or may he find more success elsewhere

        • Corey Dawson

          I don’t remember him getting cut, he was the #3 and just inactive on game days, exactly what you would expect from a 4th round rookie QB since the #2 is almost always a veteran that you know can step in and perform at an acceptable level. Can’t expect that from rookies drafted outside the first 1-2 rounds as it takes a few years to acclimate to NFL defenses and being able to read them.

          You’re right that he needs these to go well for him, but I don’t see him beating out Sanchez for the back-up spot. Sanchez has a higher pedigree (1st round pick) and has proven over the years that he can play to some extent. He fits that #2 veteran role I outlined above exactly.
          I think the two most likely possibilities are that Barkley performs and locks in the #3 and Kinne goes pack the the practice squad. Barkley continues to develop and can posibly snag the #2 as the year goes on, but next year is his real chance to get it. In this case, he may also be traded in the offseason if the coaches like what they see in Sanchez and think they can develop him to his true potential better than the Jets did

          The other possibility is he sucks and Kinne takes the #3 spot, though this is pretty unliekly. In this case, Barkley is traded for pennies just so we get something out of him, because if he’s the one that goes to the practice squad, someone will pick him up because of his potential. I still don’t think this is a bust though, it’s what you get when you draft a 4th round QB who fell that far because they have some obvious flaws, or they would have been drafted higher.

          • evanphilly

            Yeah, I don’t see Kinne beating out Barkley, unless Barkley falls off a cliff or Kinne is really, really good. I think in the end, Barkley’s biggest mistake was not leaving after his Junior year, when he would have been the #3 pick overall. Much like Jake Locker, staying that extra year really hurt him in the long run despite their best intentions.

            And Barkley was never cut, I was referencing Tyler Wilson who the Raiders drafted in the 4th round in 2013 and then cut him after training camp that year.

    • JofreyRice

      yeah, the hardness with which he’s failed is really surprising. That whole QB class really looks like garbage. EJ Manuel, Wilson…Geno Smith doesn’t have a long leash, IMO. If Vick is there and healthy, and Geno is playing like he did last year, I’d say he’s a likely candidate to get benched.

  • Andy

    Barkley was a fine fourth round pick as a developmental QB. He’s getting lots of reps in practice and after a couple of years (i.e. next year) he should be ready to be a serviceable back-up. If not, he will move on and we will draft someone else.

    Best case is Nick Foles never gets hurt but if he does Barkley can run the offense and back-up Foles for several years, and/or he demonstrates he is ready to start and we have Foles locked up to a long term deal so Barkely gets traded for picks. Worst case he cost us a 4th and was the third QB for 2-3 seasons before moving on, which does have some value.

    • Craig


  • Craig

    I’m wondering what ever happened to giving a kid a chance to develop. The same complaints we heard about Foles the previous year we’re hearing about Barkley from many fans. While I have no idea if the kid will be a competent QB in the future, can we at least give the kid a chance to fail. Players have been known to improve with experience and better understanding of the schemes they are in. We only have a very small sample of Barkley right now and he looked like a lost rookie last year….guess what….he was. We’re so quick to label a guy…..I wonder how many will admit to eating crow about Foles?

    • Re: your last sentence, not many…those “fans” left these boards when Vick left town

      • JofreyRice

        haha, remember how they all said they’d stick around (because they were Eagles fans, first and foremost)? They all got too “busy” to post here simultaneously.

        • Yes well it was only ever a matter of time. Good riddance

      • EaglesEsMiFamilia

        How true, but they weren’t really bird heads anyway…. Foles turned out to be a pretty good QB. Vick was to inconsistent and did not make his progression through receivers in a reasonable time. With that said I’m a big Vick fan, but an even bigger Philadelphia fan and they made the right decision as far as the QB position.

  • Rick H

    The jury is still way out on Barkley! No one knows what he is going to become or develop into in the NFL. I am optimistic about him. Last year was so chaotic on so many levels for the Eagles. Give this young man an open minded chance! The Eagles will benefit greatly if he comes into his own.