When a frighteningly ineffective Nick Foles was (mercifully?) knocked out of the game, Matt Barkley made his NFL debut.
There was a contingent of Eagles fans who hoped that Barkley would win the job out of training camp. After all, he was a well-known college star who was once considered as a possible top pick in the draft. As it turned out, Barkley wasn’t the top pick of the draft (he fell to the 4th round) and he didn’t win the starting job at quarterback.
Barkley didn’t impress in camp, and never seriously threatened Michael Vick or Nick Foles for either of the top two spots. But with Vick hobbled with a hamstring injury, Barkley was moved up to the backup role for last week’s game. And then when Foles evacuated this week’s game in the second half, he finally got his chance.
How did Barkley look? Since I’m in a generous mood, I’ll say he looked “aggressive.” He made some throws similar to Brett Favre back when announcers used to describe him as being a “gunslinger.”
The Eagles needed to score relatively quickly, so I can’t fault Barkley for trying to push the ball downfield. However, he needs to learn that there’s a big difference between aggressiveness and foolishness. In his first series, he threw a would-be interception that was reversed by an offsides call. Barkley was not so fortunate on the next three balls he threw at Cowboys defenders. His second interception was particularly bad, as he rolled out of pressure and just seemed to toss the ball downfield with no real target in mind.
What does this mean for the future? Probably nothing. Barkley wasn’t the first quarterback to struggle in his debut. The important thing is that he learns from this experience and continues to grow as a quarterback. Considering the uncertain health of both Vick and Foles, the Eagles had better hope that the growth process moves quickly.