Matt Barkley Will Start Final Preseason Game vs. Jets
Now that Sam Bradford has proven he is ready for the regular season, and Mark Sanchez has played enough through the first three preseason games, it’s Matt Barkleys’ turn and chance to prove he’s worthy of a spot on an NFL roster.
Barkley will get the start for the Eagles in their preseason finale in New York Thursday night, but head coach Chip Kelly said no decision has been made on who will be the third quarterback. It will be an audition of sorts for the third-year veteran, whether for the Eagles or another team.
"We haven't talked about that yet," Kelly said about who will make the team, Barkley or Tim Tebow. "We know Matt and Tim are playing, but we will sit down and kind of figure out, ‘Who is in, who is out?’ Really what is going on at the other positions, but we'll finalize all that later on."
(Listen to Eagles reporter Jimmy Kempski of Phillyvoice.com discuss the Eagles QB situation)
The Eagles traded up and drafted Barkley in the fourth round of the 2013 draft. Eagles head coach Chip Kelly has coached the 24-year old during his first two season, and according to Kelly, he has gotten better each season that he has been with the team.
"I think Matt can make all of the throws in this offense," explained Kelly. "It's just about getting acclimated, decision making and he's done a really nice job of it. I think he's better now than when we first got him, and he's shown improvement in every year. I think he's really well versed in what we do. He’s got a big night again on Thursday night, but I know he's excited about playing in it."
In Barkley's rookie season of 2013, he struggled in a big way in relief of an injured Nick Foles, who left early in the fourth quarter due to a head injury. In that game, Barkley completed 11 of his 20 pass attempts for 129 yards, and threw 3 interceptions. He's never made a regular season start for the Eagles, but he played in four games, completing 30 of 50 passes for 300 yards with no touchdowns and four interceptions.
Last week, in the Eagles 39-26 preseason win over the Packers, Barkley was the third QB to enter the game for the Eagles and went 5-for-9 for 28 yards. After a solid preseason opener, where he completed 12 of 20 passes for 192 yards, the USC product is 23-for-43 for 300 yards and one interception.
"He'll start the game," Kelly stated. "But who starts and who finishes in preseason games, I don't think that's important. Trying to distribute the reps is the big thing and we haven't talked about exactly how we'll distribute the reps."
Even though he'll start the game on Thursday night, the 6-3, 227-pounder was never a real factor in the Eagles QB competition, and must play well to hold off Tim Tebow, who many people around the team believe will make the team.
“No, our opinions aren't formed. It's one more time for a game opportunity," Kelly said.
"Obviously, I think especially with the quarterback position, practice is different just because they are wearing red jerseys. When they are not hit, when you get them out there in a game, it's another opportunity to get a legitimate evaluation of them. So there is a lot of weight in it."
So who will win the No. 3 quarterback spot? Barkley or Tebow?