Eagles Wake-Up Call: Tebow Vs. Barkley

Photo by: Jeff Fusco.

Photo by: Jeff Fusco.

After the Eagles’ victory yesterday against the Colts, a reporter asked Chip Kelly if there’s a particular set of skills he’s looking for in his third-string quarterback.

“No,” Kelly said, before the reporter could finish the question. “They have to be able to do it all.”

Tim Tebow clearly outperformed Matt Barkley on the ground as he rushed the ball four times for 15 yards and a touchdown. But who had the better game through the air?

If you look at the box score, the answer is probably Barkley. Although he threw an interception because of a tipped ball (more on that later), he completed 12 of his 20 passes for 192 yards. Tebow, meanwhile, completed just six of his 12 passes for 69 yards.

But numbers can be misleading, so we went back through the game film and analyzed every Tebow and Barkley pass play.

For completions, we looked at whether the quarterback threw the ball not just in an area the receiver could catch it, but if the ball was in a place that allowed the receiver to make a play after he caught it. Did he lead the receiver to open space or make him come back for it? Did he make the receiver dive for it or could he stay on his feet?

All six of Tebow’s completions were placed in areas that let the receiver quickly make a move or led him up the field. Although Barkley completed 10% more of his passes than Tebow, only 70% of his completions allowed the receiver to make a play after the catch.

(Two of Barkley’s completions couldn’t be judged because the entire play wasn’t captured in the NFL Network broadcast.)

For incompletions, we looked at why the throws weren’t successful. The results of that analysis is below.

Quarterback*Bad ThrowPressuredDroppedThrown Away
Matt Barkley62%13%13%13%
Tim Tebow33%33%17%17%

As you can see, Barkley threw many more inaccurate passes than Tebow. Barkley also faced less pressure than Tebow did. You can probably attribute that to the offensive line Tebow played behind, which is something Kelly noted in his post-game press conference.

“You also have to look at who is in with who,” Kelly said. “There’s a different set of receivers in with Matt than Timmy had and really a different line at times.”

Barkley did have his areas of superiority, though, including throwing the ball down the field. Tebow’s longest completion was 18 yards while Barkley had five completions that went for at least 19 yards. Tebow also noted that he needs to improve his communication with the offensive line so they can run the offense faster.

Keep in mind, however, that regardless of how many numbers you calculate or how much game film you replay, there are positives and negatives with each quarterback we simply don’t know about. The interception Barkley threw? The defender who tipped the ball was in his face because of a missed block. Why did Tebow hold onto the ball for so long? His receivers ran the wrong routes a couple of times.

At the end of the day, though, Tebow’s stock seemed to get the biggest post-game bump among the quarterbacks.

“I liked how Timmy threw it,” Kelly said. “That’s the big concern with everybody coming in, is has he really changed? I think he’s sequencing better. He’s got his feet underneath him. When the guys ran the right routes and he had the opportunity to throw the football, I thought he threw the ball really well.”

*Note: Percentages may not add up to 100 because of rounding.


Chip Kelly isn’t concerned about Cody Parkey, even though the kicker missed an extra point and a 34-yard field goal attempt.

“He’s a guy that’s pushing to make the 53-man roster and I’m happy for him.” Kelly praised two of his 2014 draft picks.

Eric Rowe had an up-and-down game while Bennie Logan dominated the Colts.

“The starting defensive front performed well overall.” T-Mac’s observations.

Join the conversation: The open thread from yesterday’s game.

The list of Eagles who were inactive for the preseason opener.

NFC East roundup: La’el Collins impressed in his NFL debut.


Nelson Agholor impressed in his NFL debut, writes Jeff McLane.

But what a touchdown. Mark Sanchez threw a quick toss to Agholor, who ran a short hitch route outside. The pass was high, but Agholor extended and caught it, and when he turned upfield Colts cornerback Greg Tolar had overrun the play.

Some receivers might have scooted out of bounds. Some might have run and been caught. But Agholor turned on the jets. When safety Mike Adams came down to help, he took a bad angle – perhaps not realizing the receiver’s speed – and Agholor zoomed into the end zone for a 34-yard touchdown.

Ed Kracz says the rookies stole the show yesterday.

Usually they need time to marinate, slowly simmering in the weight room and meeting room.

That’s what rookies, for the most part, have done in the first two drafts with Eagles coach Chip Kelly in charge. There are some exceptions. Right tackle Lane Johnson comes to mind, but he was the fourth overall pick in 2013. Jordan Matthews was on the receiving end of nearly 900 yards last year after entering the league in the second round.

This year could be completely different.


The Eagles are off today, but we’ll have more content from yesterday’s game coming your way.