Who Crowned Matt Barkley?

Who Crowned Matt Barkley?

There has been some buzz since the Eagles chose Matt Barkley
in the fourth round of the NFL Draft on Saturday, as you might expect. For one
it defied many of the preconceived notions people held about what works in Chip
Kelly’s offense. Also, had Barkley departed USC one year earlier, he might have
been a far more heralded prospect, perhaps even a top 10 pick.

News flash: Barkely didn’t go in the top 10 or in the first
round at all, not even during the first two days of the draft. Again, he was a
fourth-round pick, a mere 10 spots later than where Nick Foles went in 2012,
and the same round where the Eagles grabbed Mike Kafka in 2011. I don’t recall
anybody writing the story two years ago entitled, “What Mike Kafka and the
Eagles’ Offseason Say About Andy Reid’s Plans.”

Yet that story was written about the Eagles, Barkley, and
their new head coach
by Chris Brown at Grantland yesterday. Brown admits
Barkley is likely a hedge by an organization that lacks a franchise
quarterback at this point in time – or at least doesn’t know who that person is
yet. Then comes the part where his addition might be a sign of things to come for Kelly's offense.

There is another possibility,
though. In addition to drafting Barkley, among the major moves Kelly made was
signing tight end James Casey in free agency and drafting Stanford tight end
Zach Ertz, two movable chess pieces to go along with Philadelphia’s other
multipurpose tight end, Brent Celek. These moves might be an indication that
Kelly’s focus is shifting from the roster of speedy running backs and
dual-threat quarterbacks he had at Oregon. Instead, Philadelphia may be looking
to mesh the fleet-footed receivers already on its roster with a group of
dynamic tight ends. As part of that group, Kelly is likely hoping Barkley can
be an extremely accurate, intelligent, intangible-heavy quarterback who can
efficiently operate his lightning-fast no huddle.

This is no different from saying Chip needs a mobile
quarterback. He keeps saying he doesn’t, and now the Eagles have drafted as
though he doesn’t. Now Chip says we’re just taking the best player on the
board, and it’s a statement about what the Birds’ offense will look like.

Don’t me wrong, Brown is a knowledgeable football guy, and I
respect his opinion. That probably is
what the offense is going to look like if Barkley or Foles for that matter are
under center. But then Kelly has said all along he will coach to the strength
of his personnel, so if it’s Vick or the shiny new mobile quarterback they choose
in the first round next April, maybe it won’t look like that then.

Barkley’s arrival in this town has been treated like no
other fourth-round pick I can remember (except maybe Na Brown). It’s as if his being groomed as the franchise
quarterback is almost a foregone conclusion. Les Bowen of the Daily News wrote
shortly after Barkley was selected “you'd have to think Barkley is Kelly's
quarterback of the future,” and has since suggested his presence may not be a
good sign for Foles.

With the Eagles, Barkley faces a
crowded field, led by Michael Vick. Barkley's arrival is bad news for Nick
Foles, in that Foles was the young QB drafted by the previous coach, and
Barkley is the young QB drafted by the new coach. But this also might mean
Foles really will get that even chance to compete for a starting role, given
that drafting Barkley means Kelly isn't wed to the idea of great QB mobility.

I’m not sure either Foles or Barkley was drafted by their
head coaches for one. Howie Roseman took the credit for the 2012 draft that
netted Foles, and while Chip’s finger prints are all over this year’s group,
there were a lot of seasoned talent evaluators such as Tom Gamble and Tom
Donahoe working on this class. Let’s forget about whose guys are whose and just
look at the reality of the situation.

  • • Vick turns 33 this summer and is playing on a one-year deal.
    If he doesn’t start and have a great season, he’s gone.


  • • Foles is a third-round pick with six NFL starts under his
    belt. He’s earned an opportunity to compete for the job, but we don’t know what
    they have yet.

  • • Barkley is a fourth rounder. To put that in perspective, the
    best three fourth-round quarterbacks of the last 20 years are Kyle Orton, David
    Garrard, and Aaron Brooks.

In other words, any one of the three Birds QBs could be the starter on
opening day over a year from now in 2014 – or none of them.

Barkley isn’t special just because at one time people
believed he might go in the top 10. As Bowen points out, even though somebody
thinks it doesn’t mean that’s what would have happened (just look at Sharrif Floyd this year), and I would add it
doesn’t mean Barkley would have been successful, either. He went
where he went in the draft, and expectations should be adjusted accordingly.

Chip Kelly’s plan wasn’t to discover the next Tom Brady in
this draft. The Eagles have a need at quarterback, and Barkley was the player
available when they were on the clock, so they took him. For the time being at
least, there really isn’t too much more to make of the selection than that.

>>
What Matt Barkley and the Eagles’ Offseason Say About Chip Kelly’s Plans [Grantland]

>> Matt Barkley’s fall ‘a perfect storm’ for Eagles [Daily
News]

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Joel Embiid unhappy with how Sixers handled injury updates

Joel Embiid unhappy with how Sixers handled injury updates

CAMDEN, N.J. -- Joel Embiid will miss the next four games and is slated to return March 3 against the Knicks in Philadelphia, so long as he is symptom-free. While Embiid wants to play as soon as possible, he’s just glad there is now a definitive timetable announced.

Prior to Thursday, the team had not announced a specific timeframe.

“I wasn’t too happy with the way it was kind of handled before,” Embiid said. “I saw the day-to-day part. I was told that I was going to miss at least two or three weeks. So I wasn’t happy with the way it was handled.

“I thought keeping my name out there was going to just like literally have people think about me all the time instead of just saying when I was going to be back. So I’m happy that they did that today and they said that I’m out for the next four games.”

Embiid suffered a left knee contusion on Jan. 22 against the Trail Blazers. He sat out three games and returned on Jan. 27 to play the Rockets. He has not played since then, sitting out the last eight games.

An MRI also revealed Embiid has a slight tear in his meniscus, which is not thought to be related to the contusion.

Embiid went through a full practice on Thursday for the first time, he estimated, in four or five weeks. (Wednesday’s practice was not intense.) According to the Sixers, they are encouraged by the progress Embiid showed but do not feel he is game-ready. Team doctors are holding him out the next four games to minimize the risk of aggravating his knee. In order for him to be cleared, Embiid has to be symptom-free.

Embiid had eyed a return on Friday against the Wizards because he was feeling well, he said, but he had some swelling on Thursday.

“No swelling, no pain, nothing,” Embiid said of his criteria to play.

Now the team -- and fans -- can move forward without daily questions of Embiid’s status.

“I think it’s good for everybody,” Brett Brown said. “For you all to understand, the people that buying a ticket to understand, for me as a coach to prepare my team that he’s not going to be here for four more games. I like that clarity. I’m fine with it. Obviously, you want him playing, but the mystery that surrounds that speculation I think is frustrating for people and we understand that.”

Embiid reiterated the patience aspect of the injury, noting he waited two years to rehab his foot and there is no need to rush his knee. Now everyone can be in the loop with his status.

“The end point is basically making sure I’m ready to play instead of just putting me out there,” Embiid said.

In Justin Anderson, Sixers get solid defensive wing who was buried in Dallas

In Justin Anderson, Sixers get solid defensive wing who was buried in Dallas

On the surface, the Nerlens Noel trade doesn't look good.

The Sixers on Thursday traded the third-year big man to the Dallas Mavericks for forward Justin Anderson, center Andrew Bogut and a top-18 protected first-round pick. That first-rounder turns into two second-round picks if it doesn't convey in 2017. Yuck. And double yuck.

The only hope in this trade comes in Anderson. The former first-round pick has the look of a prototypical NBA wing. At 6-foot-6 with a nearly 7-foot wingspan, he has the frame to disrupt passing lanes and the bulk at 228 pounds to muscle up stronger swingmen.

At Virginia, Anderson was a key cog for a team that was ranked as high as No. 2 and earned a 2-seed in the 2015 NCAA Tournament. After that season, Anderson opted to forego his senior year and enter the NBA draft. He was selected 21st overall by the Mavericks in 2015.

Virginia coach Tony Bennett preaches defense and Anderson was one of his finest disciples in that regard. Offensive limitations and being a part of a balanced attack with the Cavaliers caused Anderson's stock to drop. Despite shooting 45 percent from three in his final season, Anderson was considered a streaky shooter and, frankly, that's remained the NBA.

His rookie season was one to forget. The Mavericks were competitive in the Western Conference, finishing as the 6-seed and losing to the Thunder in the first round. Anderson couldn't find his way into Rick Carlisle's rotation. Dallas' never-ending supply of point guards coupled with the sharpshooting duo of Wesley Matthews and Chandler Parsons relegated Anderson to just 11.8 minutes a game his rookie season. In his limited time, he shot 41 percent from the field and 27 percent from three.

Unfortunately, it's been a similar story this season, but with some glimmers of hope. Anderson is still losing minutes to Matthews and also big free-agent acquisition Harrison Barnes, who's having a strong first season with the Mavs. But over a three-game stretch in late January, Anderson averaged 15.7 points and 4.3 rebounds in 20 minutes per game. He also shot 6 of 16 (38 percent) from three during that span.

“I don’t want to sell myself short,” Anderson said to the Star-Telegram during that run. “I still think that I can be a really great player in this league, but I think it’s going to take a lot of hard work.

“I think [the early-season struggles] may be the best thing that’s happened to me in my career. All we can do is wait and just keep working hard, push through it and hopefully one day it’ll all pay off."

The most promising numbers in Anderson's young career are that he's averaging 1.2 steals and 1.1 blocks per 36 minutes as a pro. At the very least, Anderson should develop into a solid defensive wing. If he develops offensively, who knows?

Per ESPN's Kevin Pelton, "Noel and Anderson (who just sneaks over the bar) are both among the 21 players in the league who have averaged 2.0 steals per 100 team plays and blocked 2.0 percent of opponent 2-point attempts or better in at least 500 minutes."

It's tough to argue that this trade was a good one for Bryan Colangelo. With that said, Anderson could still turn out to be a decent NBA player. He needs minutes and patience, two things the Sixers can offer in spades.