Oct 27, 2013; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Matt Barkley (2) looks to pass during the fourth quarter against the New York Giants at Lincoln Financial Field. The New York Giants won the game 15-7. Mandatory Credit: John Geliebter-USA TODAY Sports

Matt Barkley Can Be A Failed Experiment

The Philadelphia Eagles selected quarterback Matt Barkley in the fourth round of the 2013 NFL draft. Actually, they traded up a few spots to grab the former USC Trojan, who one year earlier was considered a top-five draft pick, had he opted to declare for the 2012 draft.

In his first season with the Eagles, Matt Barkley didn’t do much. He found himself on a team that was trying to pick up its pieces under a new coaching regime. As that was not already a difficult situation, he entered a “three-horse” race: a quarterback battle behind Michael Vick and Nick Foles. As expected, Barkley finished third and had to sit behind the two main Eagles’ signal callers.

For a rookie QB, sitting on the bench during your first year can be a very positive and fruitful experience. You see how the offense operates, the veterans’ approach (training, tape study, games, etc) and familiarize yourself with the locker room and the world of the NFL without having to carry a team on your shoulders.

This wasn’t exactly the case for Barkley. The Eagles started the season with Vick at the helm, then Foles replaced the injured starter, then they went back to Vick, until finally Foles took over as the starter.

Barkley was also thrown into the fire in Week 7 and Week 8, replacing Foles and Vick respectively. He was very bad in both games, completing 28 of 46 attempts for no touchdowns and four interceptions.

Barkley had the chance to learn the offense in 2013. He said recently:

It really feels like “my” offense now. Last year it was kind of like Oregon’s offense. It feels like the offense that I’ve been running for a while now. All the calls, all the checks, it all just comes to [me] quickly. I don’t have to think about it now.” (from BleeedingGreenNation.com)

However,  the lack of a real mentor at the position affected his learning process. Both Vick and Foles were not the ideal mentors. Vick is not a typical quarterback and relies much more on his mobility than most quarterbacks do. Foles could have been a great mentor, but he was very inexperienced for such a role.

To make matters worse, it doesn’t look like Barkley’s second year will be much better. Foles is the unquestioned starter and the Eagles brought in Mark Sanchez to back him up. Barkley has the chance to beat Sanchez for the backup job in training camp. Regardless, he will miss a good mentor for the second straight year. Sanchez is not a good quarterback and hasn’t manage to overcome adversity as professional. There are not a lot of things a young player can take from him.

One of the highest regarded college quarterbacks, Barkley landed in a “special” and less-than-ideal situation for a quarterback who wants to develop his skills and grow into a professional player. His working environment can easily limit his development and prove detrimental for his future career.

Definitely, this is the worst scenario for Matt Barkley, but also a very possible one. Hopefully, Chip Kelly will find a way to help Barkley reach his potential, otherwise the Eagles would have wasted a fourth-round and seventh-round pick (remember, they traded up to get him) for a player who never really got to contribute.

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  • ronnieblowhard

    Why are you saying Foles can’t or won’t mentor him? Foles has entered his third year and has nothing to fear from the backups at this point, so I see no reason for him not to help the other two. It only helps the team if Foles were to get injured. Also, I don’t really see Sanchez as being better than Barkley, just a bit more seasoned. Barkley technically has the upper hand and since Chip drafted him I’m sure he’ll get the benefit of the doubt in winning the backup job. Sanchez, like Vick, will only be a career backup at this point. He doesn’t have the winning, stats or durability behind his name to justify keeping him ahead of Barkley if the competition is a draw or even close. I’d have to say you go with the guy with more potential upside.

  • Giorgos Kassakos

    Foles is too young to be a mentor. Maybe if he had two three full seasons behind him. Now, he has two and he didn’t start in every game. Plus, he has not enough postseason experience, which in my opinion is very important for a guy you want to use as a mentor. Nothing like he is afraid to mentor Barkley, more like he doesn’t have enough experience to be a mentor. He will eventually, just not at this point.

    Like you, I’d rather see Barkley be the no.2 QB. But I don’t know. Sanchez has been bad the last few years, but he has experience and it’s not like Barkley is a clearly better option.

    PS: I like your nickname.

  • truthbetold

    Foles is brand new man. It’s not about him fearing for his job security. It’s about him not being able to teach someone when he’s still learning himself. Maybe in a few years, but definitely not now.

  • John Down

    Uh, does anyone else see that Barkley’s development will depend a lot on COACHING (gee, what a novel idea!), not to mention his observation and study of Foles and the other QB’s they get to see this year (Rodgers and Wilson, to name just two)? Huh?

  • Giorgos Kassakos

    Yes, of course, but development requires playing time, too. Not jut coaching and learning things in theory.

  • John Down

    No matter how you cut it, the Eagles back-up QB situation appears shaky right now. And we still do not know 100% for certain if Nick Foles is an elite QB capable of winning in the post season. Time will tell.

  • Giorgos Kassakos

    No doubt about that. This is the year that will either make Foles the Eagles starter for the next few years or will send the team back to searching for a QB. If that’s the case, Barkley will get his chance to show if he can be that guy.