Eagles’ Backup QB Battle is On
For the second straight year at the Nova Care Center, the Philadelphia Eagles have a quarterback competition on their hands. No, not the most obvious one. Nick Foles is firmly the top man on the depth chart and will enter the 2014 season as the starter.
The competition lies within the backup role, meaning last years fourth round draft pick, Matt Barkley has a battle on his hands if he wants to win the job as the next man in this season. Veteran quarterback Mark Sanchez, who hasn't started a game since the 2012 season, was brought in to ensure Barkley is ready and not just handed the back-up role behind Foles.
Head coach Chip Kelly expects a "real healthy competition"
"[Barkley] had a real good offseason in terms of training," Kelly said during one of the teams mini-camps. "I think Matt's throwing better here and there, too."
Barkley and Sanchez both have the prototypical frame, the team traded up to grab Brakley in last's years draft and pursued Sanchez in free agency. Given the new opportunities so short into his second training camp, Barkley isn't taking anything for granted and is making sure to do all the little things and that's something that excites Kelly.
"I'm excited to get a full offseason with Matt in here to really get a chance to work with him because I think he's got a skill set that's exciting when you see him, how the ball comes out of his hands, the decisions that he makes," Kelly said.
Any time Barkely's name is brought up, some variation of the words 'arm strength,' is used. The second-year quarterback took it to heart, challenging reporter Jimmy Kempski to catch his footballs after Kempski observed during OTAs and minicamp that Barkley's "arm simply isn't good."
"Shut up Jimmy," Barkley wrote on Reddit. "You don't know a thing about that route, the defensive coverage, technique of the wide receiver, the route he was actually running, let alone my maximum velocity arm strength. We can play catch sometime if you want to figure out for yourself how hard I can throw it, just lemme know."
With Kelly declaring that there is indeed a competition to be Foles' backup, the expectation is that both Barkley and Sanchez will continue to split time with the second offense for the first few practices at least. The two will get on the field on Saturday morning with their attempt to impress the coaching staff.
Prediction: Sanchez is a veteran who has won 33 games in the NFL, if Nick Foles goes down for any extended period of time, having Sanchez's experience would be a nice addition to the huddle. Sanchez isn't making to much money, his one-year deal with the Eagles is worth a "max" of $4 million, but his base is believed to be half of that.
Unless Barkley has come to camp much improved, my money is on Sanchez being the back-up in 2014.
Practice starts at Nova Care Center on Saturday, with all players set to report on Friday.