Should Matt Barkley Enter 2014 as the Backup Quarterback for the Eagles?

Bryn SwartzSenior Writer IIIFebruary 11, 2014

Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Nick Foles, center, passes while quarterbacks Michael Vick, left, and Matt Barkley look on during NFL football practice at the team's training facility, Wednesday, Jan. 1, 2014, in Philadelphia. The Eagles host the New Orleans Saints in a wild-card playoff game on Saturday. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)
Matt Rourke/Associated Press

Oh, how things have changed.

Just a year ago, Matt Barkley was viewed by many as a potential No. 1 pick in the 2013 draft. But he suffered through a disappointing senior season, slipped to the fourth round and spent this past year as the third-string quarterback for the Philadelphia Eagles. When he did earn his chance to play, he was largely ineffective, throwing four interceptions in just 49 pass attempts.

In fact, according to Pro Football Focus, he rated as the single worst player (subscription required) at any position in the entire National Football League. 

You look at it this way and Barkley should be a long shot to even be on the team in 2014, let alone compete for a spot as the team's backup quarterback.

But it's not about just the disappointing numbers for Barkley during his rookie year. He had almost no chance at success when he was thrown into a pair of midseason games against the Dallas Cowboys and then the New York Giants. He moved the ball well but every drive ended in the same fashion: a turnover. He didn't look lost, though. He simply looked like a quarterback completely overwhelmed by the situation.

There's still hope. There's a lot of hope. 

Look at the incredible jump Nick Foles made from his rookie year to his second season. Yes, a change in head coach helped, but it's not like Andy Reid struggled at developing quarterbacks. He knows how to bring out the best in his young signal-callers, just like Kelly did with Foles.

Barkley deserves at least one more chance. If Michael Vick wasn't a virtual lock to leave in free agency, there's no way Barkley would have any chance at earning a backup spot. But Vick will leave and Barkley should be the favorite to win the No. 2 job. 

Expect him to thrive over the next seven months as he continues to learn the offense and work with the rest of the team. He may never project into a starting quarterback in this league, but he certainly has a future as a reliable backup. 

The Eagles have had a quarterback make all 16 starts in the same season exactly one time since 2004 (Donovan McNabb in 2008). Foles has suffered through a pair of injuries during his two years in the league. There's a very good chance Barkley will see playing time, legitimate playing time, during the 2014 season. 

Expect him to be ready.