Matt Barkley threw three interceptions in the fourth quarter of the Eagles' 17-3 loss to the Cowboys on Sunday. (USA Today Images)
In relief duty on Sunday, Matt Barkley looked like a young quarterback.
And that’s because he is a young quarterback.
As a third-string signal caller, Barkley’s inexperience and lack of first-team reps did not bode well for the rookie thrust into an unexpected debut.
“A lot of people may not understand this, but he’s been the scout team quarterback since the beginning of the season,” Brian Westbrook said on Comcast SportsNet’s Monday edition of “Philly Sports Talk.” “The job of the scout team quarterback is to throw the ball to the defense. Every single play that they throw the football, they’re throwing the ball to the defense so they can intercept it.”
That’s exactly what Barkley did on Sunday. The USC product was intercepted three times in one quarter of action against the 30th-ranked pass defense of the Cowboys, while completing 11 of 20 passes for 129 yards and a quarterback rating of 35.2.
Like many rookie quarterbacks, the 23-year-old telegraphed pass after pass, which made for a turnover-filled fourth quarter and a lousy finish to a big day for the Eagles.
“What he did was what a lot of young quarterbacks do — you stare down your initial guy, the guy that you really want to throw the ball at, and the good defenses — [Cowboys defensive coordinator] Monte Kiffin’s defense — they’re going to intercept the football," Westbrook said. "And that’s just the bottom line.”
Barkley’s mid-week role of preparing the Eagles’ defense instead of jelling with the first team clearly showed on Sunday — and he admitted that.
“The only difficult thing about that is the timing with [the receivers],” Barkley said on Sunday after the loss (see story). “To go live speed, 100 percent, seeing their breaks, seeing them drop their hips, their little tendencies that those receivers have with [the first team], I don’t totally know all their’s yet.”
Westbrook shared the same feeling, which is why Barkley resembled what he has been: a third-string quarterback.
“You’re not used to timing, the important things that a quarterback needs … and he doesn’t have that,” he said. “He didn’t have the timing, he didn’t have the accuracy. He’s talking about the body language of the players, that he’s trying to read the receivers so he can throw them the ball accurately, but he hasn’t worked with these guys because he’s a third-string quarterback.
“So my expectations were kind of low for him.”