Matt Barkley: I'm still in the Eagles' QB race

Matt Barkley: I'm still in the Eagles' QB race

August 19, 2013, 1:45 pm
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Matt Barkley was 11 for 22 for 103 yards and a TD against New England, and 8 for 14 for 72 yards against Carolina. (USA Today Images)

Don't tell Matt Barkley he has the best seat in the house for watching the Eagles' quarterback competition.

"I don't want to say I'm more so watching as opposed to playing in it," Barkley said after practice Sunday at the NovaCare Complex. "I'll still say that until one's named."

Although head coach Chip Kelly has not yet named a starting quarterback, the consensus opinion is that Michael Vick -- who saw almost all the first-team snaps at the Eagles' open practice Saturday -- is the favorite to win the race. Nick Foles still has a chance, but Barkley won't get the job.

"I'm not evaluating it like you guys are," Barkley said. "I'm trying to play the best I can."

The rookie quarterback has gotten the most playing time of the three in the Birds' first two preseason games, albeit with the second-stringers. And although the USC product has played well, his statistics just don't compare to those of Vick and Foles.

In two games, Barkley has gone 19 for 36 throwing the ball, a completion percentage of 53 percent. Vick, at 13 for 15 (87 percent), and Foles, at 11 for 14 (79 percent), have far exceeded that.

But Barkley doesn't think it's fair to look solely at the stats.

"You try to complete every ball, and every time that's not the case," he said. "You want that to be high, but it's kind of hard to look at numbers right now. Just looking at the circumstances that you're put in and whatnot, you want that number to be higher, but I try to look at concepts."

Is he saying his level of play is reflecting that of the guys he's playing with -- the rookies?

"It might be," he said. "There's a lot of factors that go into why a play works and why it doesn't."

There's no doubt Barkley would like a shot at commandeering the first-team offense. It's an opportunity he hasn't been given in a game thus far. Perhaps the Eagles have something up their sleeve for Saturday's contest against Jacksonville?

Offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur would entrust Barkley with that task, at least, if he were given it.

"If we put him in the ballgame, we would have confidence that he could execute for us," Shurmur said.

But Shurmur, like Barkley, is more concerned with the fourth-round pick's development at this point than anything else.

"He's made great strides. ... As he settled down, he played better, so I think it's just a matter of him playing more and more and more," Shurmur said.

"I've said it before, we've seen him do tremendous things in college, and he'll pull the trigger. He gets rid of the ball quickly, which is a tremendous attribute for a quarterback, and he's like everybody else. He's learning the offense and getting comfortable with the plays we call, and I think you'll only see him get better and better."

And how does Barkley think he's progressing?

"The way I'm supposed to," he said. "I think I've gotten better from each preseason game, let alone week by week in camp."

Even between the first two games, Barkley showed improvement, though the numbers don't really tell the full story. He was 11 for 22 for 103 yards and a TD against New England; 8 for 14 for 72 yards against Carolina.

His comfort level got better in the second game, in making reads and quick decisions. But basically, Barkley said he just felt more at ease against the Panthers than he did against the Patriots.

"It was really just like playing football again, just like I know how," he said. "I felt good, felt like I started off on a better note."

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