5 Reasons Matt Barkley Should Be Quarterback for 2013 Philadelphia Eagles
Unlike most quarterback competitions, however, this isn't just a two-player race. No, this battle is open to everybody on the team; technically, even G.J. Kinne could win the job.
Realistically though, the race is between veteran former No. 1 overall draft pick Michael Vick, last year's rookie Nick Foles and this year's rookie Matt Barkley. Experts everywhere are stating their opinion on the Eagles' quarterback battle. Very few, if any, have given the rookie much of a chance to win the job.
Call me crazy, but I think Barkley will win the starting job. In fact, I predicted it the moment the former USC standout was drafted back in April.
Here are five reasons why, in no particular order.
1. Neither Vick nor Foles Won the Job in 2012
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Both Michael Vick and Nick Foles had their opportunities to lock up the starting job for the future based on their 2012 performance. Neither came away with a particularly resounding performance.
Vick suffered through arguably the worst season of his career, throwing 10 interceptions and adding nine fumbles on the ground. He also showed a knack for turnovers at the absolute worst time.
Who can forget the 93-yard fumble return touchdown the Cardinals had on the final play of the first half, or the 99-yard interception touchdown by the Saints, or the fumble diving into the end zone against the Steelers?
As Cold Hard Football Facts did such a tremendous job of pointing out, Vick also played extremely poorly early in games, which put the Eagles into deficits they couldn't recover from. He led the Eagles to 10 first-half points in one of his 10 games last season. And he threw just a single first-quarter touchdown all year.
He did lead three dramatic fourth-quarter comeback victories, but he also played poorly enough in the first 55 minutes to put the Eagles into that position, a la Tim Tebow in 2011.
Foles wasn't much better than Vick, but you have to take into account that he was a rookie still learning the game, not a 10-year veteran who showed an extremely alarming inability to recognize even the most basic blitzes.
Foles also played with a significantly worse supporting cast. He had LeSean McCoy and DeSean Jackson each for two of six games. Vick had McCoy for 10 of 10 and Jackson for nine of 10. Foles also played without Todd Herremans for all six games (Vick had Herremans blocking him for eight of 10 games).
Both played without Jason Peters, and Vick had Jason Kelce for just over a game, compared to none for Foles.
Foles led the Eagles to double-digit points in the first half in five out of six games. The Eagles averaged 18.67 points per game with Foles under center, compared to 15.89 for Vick.
Looking at the basic picture, it's clear that Vick is on the decline of his career. He's 33 years old and has significantly regressed since he was an MVP candidate in 2010.
2. Chip Kelly Brought in Matt Barkley
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Head coaches like to do things their own way. Always have and always will.
Let's look at Chip Kelly's options at quarterback. Michael Vick is a 33-year-old veteran who entered the NFL years before Kelly even became the head coach at the University of Oregon. Foles is a 24-year-old rookie who was drafted by Andy Reid in the third round of the 2012 draft.
Matt Barkley is the only one who was specifically brought in by Kelly. That's a big deal.
He also likes to give his former players at Oregon a chance. Look who he brought in: Dennis Dixon and Patrick Chung.
My point is that Kelly has no loyalty to anybody on the current Eagles roster, including Vick and Foles. He does feel a little bit of loyalty to players he coached in college or players he drafted.
He can work with Barkley's mechanics any way he wants, and he's the first coach who's done so.
The fact that Vick claims to finally have learned how to hold a football for the first time at age 33 is beyond alarming. It's simply pathetic. He's never going to get any better at this point in his career, only worse.
And Foles may have a future, but he was merely solid as a rookie.
Why not go with the guy you brought in and see what he's got?
3. Highest Upside for Matt Barkley
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Let's look at the potential upside for the quarterbacks on the Eagles.
Vick is 33 and has drastically declined since his amazing 2010 season, when he won Comeback Player of the Year honors. There's a chance he could revive his career under Kelly's new offense, but Vick has made a living out of convincing head coaches that he's on the verge of finally turning in another breakout season.
Foles played okay as a rookie, but he didn't exactly light the world on fire. It's absolutely impossible to predict whether he'll be a future franchise quarterback based on his limited NFL action. It also doesn't help that he didn't get to play with a number of starters on offense.
Barkley appears to have the highest upside moving forward.
This is a player who fell to the fourth round just a year after he was rumored to be a top-five pick, possibly higher, in the entire draft. So which quarterback is he? Is he a mid-round prospect who's due for a career of mediocrity? Or could he turn into one of the game's brightest signal-callers with proper coaching and a talented supporting cast?
Without a single snap in the NFL, no one knows how Barkley will do. But it's definitely worth finding out.
4. Not a Super Bowl Year
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If the goal for the Eagles was to win the Super Bowl this season, Michael Vick would probably be the quarterback I'd pick. I'd still be worried that things would blow up in my face, like it did in 2011 and 2012, but if Vick was anything close to the electric weapon from 2010, the Eagles would have a real chance at making a run.
But it's not just about 2013. It's not about 2014 either.
It's about the future, and Vick is clearly not the quarterback for the future. At best, he would serve as a one-year stopgap for either Foles or Barkley. That's just a wasted season then.
There's something about a rookie quarterback working with a rookie coach that gives optimism for the future. Just look at Chuck Pagano and Andrew Luck last year or Mike Smith and Matt Ryan in 2008 or John Harbaugh and Joe Flacco in 2008.
5. Success for Other Rookie Quarterbacks
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You can't possibly think that Kelly didn't look at the incredible success of the other rookie quarterbacks in 2012 and imagine what he could do with Matt Barkley in 2013.
This isn't an era where quarterbacks sit on the bench for three years to learn, like Aaron Rodgers did behind Brett Favre, or even a year, like Carson Palmer did behind Jon Kitna. Even though that was within the last decade, it feels like a generation ago.
Rookie quarterbacks are immediately thrown into the fire nowadays, and what's even more impressive, they've been succeeding.
Andrew Luck, Robert Griffin III and Russell Wilson turned in three of the greatest seasons by a rookie quarterback in NFL history in 2012. Cam Newton was equally impressive in 2011.
Ryan Tannehill in 2012 showed flashes that he could be a franchise quarterback, and even Brandon Weeden wasn't a complete waste.
Fresh off the most productive year by rookie quarterbacks in history, Barkley could look to do the same and surprise the world in 2013.
That is, if Kelly lets him.