Eagle Eye: QB controversy continues
Giants cornerback Terrell Thomas forces a Matt Barkley fumble on a 1st and goal near the end of the second quarter. (AP)
It didn’t seem to make sense then. And after what Matt Barkley said Tuesday, it makes less sense now.
The crucial 1st-and-goal play the Eagles ran just before halftime Sunday?
On Monday, head coach Chip Kelly defended the surprising play call by saying it was a play everybody on the team was familiar with.
But Barkley said Tuesday that the play Kelly dialed up on the biggest snap of the game against the Giants -- 1st-and-goal from the Giants’ 2-yard-line -- was a play he had never practiced.
“I never got a rep of that play,” Barkley said after practice Tuesday. “You see it, you see it on film, you see other guys doing it and so you go through it in your head, but the timing of getting it out with someone coming off the edge like that, you just haven’t experienced it yet.”
Barkley relieved an injured Michael Vick in the second quarter and nine plays into his first drive of the game and fifth of his career, he had the Eagles on the 2-yard-line.
First-and-goal with 1:14 on the clock. A touchdown makes it a 12-7 game, gives the Eagles momentum going into halftime, and gives Barkley the first TD drive of his career.
But even though Barkley was playing in his second NFL game and had gotten very few practice reps with the first offense and even though LeSean McCoy is the NFL’s rushing leader, Kelly opted for a slow-developing pass play.
Barkley faked to Riley Cooper, running left to right on a fake end around, then dropped back and looking to the left side of the end zone while blitzing cornerback Terrell Thomas closed in on him.
Thomas overran Barkley briefly, and Barkley tried running out of trouble, but before he could throw the ball away, Thomas stripped him of the football, and Giants cornerback Jacquian Williams pounced on it just before it bounced out of bounds.
The Giants, leading 12-0 at the time, went on to a 15-7 win over the Eagles.
And because it was a one-possession game, much of the postgame focus was on Kelly’s decision to put the ball in the hands of an untested rookie instead of an All-Pro tailback.
On Monday, Kelly defended the play call, saying it’s a play the Eagles have worked on the entire offseason.
“That's the first play we've run since Day 1 here,” he said. “We're going to go to kind of what we know the best, what everybody should understand is what we're going to go to.
“If you ask everybody on our team, they know what we were going to call in that situation.”
Maybe not everyone.
Barkley, who inexplicably got very few first-team reps last week despite Vick coming off a serious hamstring injury, said it’s a play he would have been more comfortable with had he run it previously.
“As much as you want to go through your reads and you know when to get the ball out, it’s different until you get out there,” he said. “The more experience, the more you learn.”