Wake-Up Call: Barkley And the Catch-22

Chip Kelly said he was concerned about his quarterback situation all week.

Michael Vick looked like he was on target to start but there were obvious questions surrounding his hamstring. Nick Foles was unavailable because of a concussion, meaning rookie Matt Barkley was the next man up. Kelly had two quarterbacks that needed prep time, and zero QBs that gave him a sure thing.

“It’s a Catch-22 for everybody. Mike hadn’t been in for two games and you have to give Mike his requisite amount of reps and you also have to get your second-string guy the amount of reps,” said Kelly. “It’s tough to get that second guy ready to go.”

Barkley indicated that he received very few first-team reps at practice this week. The coach’s fears were realized on Sunday afternoon against the Giants. Vick re-injured his hamstring early, and the rookie was asked for the second straight week to go in cold.

He went 16-of-27 for 158 yards with an interception. He also fumbled three times, losing one of them. Barkley inherited a 12-0 deficit and the Eagles went onto lose 15-7.

“He’s a rookie and we can’t ask that much from rookies. They need time to develop,” said LeSean McCoy. “I think he’s a good young quarterback and in the future, he could be one of the best. But we just have to help him out. It starts with me, getting the running game started and helping him out.”

McCoy had 48 yards on 15 carries (3.2 avg.). Kelly appeared to dial up the read option a good amount even with Barkley in the game. The Giants did little to honor Barkley as a running threat and McCoy was kept in check.

“The game plan is designed for any quarterback and Mike has some plays, I have some plays, but the offense is built to run with whoever is at the helm,” said Barkley. “I do not think it makes a difference who’s at that position as long as you are making the right decisions and getting the ball out.”

Still, it would be interesting to see how much the game plan would change if it was catered specifically for the fourth-round pick out of USC.  We may have that answer soon. Vick is all but out and Foles has yet to be cleared for a return. Barkley could be the one getting the first-team reps this time around as the Eagles get ready for their trip to Oakland.

“I think it is valuable just to practice with those guys and see their timing and know their breaks in a full-speed environment,” he said. “Routes versus air is one thing but to be able to get reps in team periods and seven on sevens I think it will be valuable.”


Kelly is learning the hard way with Vick.

The head coach explains some of his questionable in-game decision making.

Kapadia offers his observations from Sunday’s loss to the Giants.


Mike Sielski  writes about Kelly’s early struggles.

His team had just lost to the Giants, 15-7, and for the second straight game, the Eagles didn’t score an offensive touchdown. The ballyhoo that had accompanied Lurie’s January hiring of Chip Kelly as coach seems a little silly now, with the Eagles at 3-5 and with their quarterback situation in such turmoil. So when he was asked how confident he is in Kelly after what he has seen over these last eight weeks, [Jeffrey] Lurie didn’t hesitate to buck up another NFL rookie.

“Oh, terrific,” he said, before slipping out the door.

No, Barkley wasn’t the only pro football neophyte making costly mistakes Sunday. Kelly had a rough afternoon, too, and as cursory as Lurie’s answer might appear, there is truth in it. It’s important to remember that Kelly has to have time to grow into his job, that it’s OK to give him a grace period, that his decision-making and play-calling and all the elements of managing a game that were so puzzling and infuriating Sunday should improve. They have to. It’s difficult for them to be worse.

John Gonzalez weighs in on Vick.

Kansas City. That’s when it began to crumble for Vick. He got off to an excellent start against Washington and San Diego, but the current version of Vick hasn’t looked like the early-season version of Vick. Not at all. Not even a little.

It makes you question how much he has left to contribute. If the first two games of the season were his zenith, do the rest represent an irreversible decline? Is this Vick’s nadir? Or is it possible that he might recover from his hamstring injury and play well – or at least play in a not-entirely-terrible manner?


We’ll speak with Kelly at 1 p.m.