Matt Barkley through 3 games as the Chicago Bears starting quarterback has done the following:
- Gone 59/104 for 720 yards, 4 touchdowns, 2 interceptions, earning an average 87.5 quarterback rating.
- Gone 1-2, the only win coming against the 49ers who were 1-10 entering the game.
- Generated an intense amount of excitement from Bears fans who feel like he may be a diamond in the rough.
Tweets like this certainly don’t help the hype train go off the rails:
Yet descriptions like this may dampen the coals:
“He’s functional,” said another scout. “I didn’t see a lot of energy (against the Lions). It was kind of like he was managing the game. It’s not like he’s a high-risk type player. He just takes what they give you.” – source
Matt Barkley was once prospected as a top-10 pick coming out of USC in 2012, but returning for his senior season dropped his pedigree substantially. After a fizzling-out in Philadelphia and a cup of coffee in Arizona, the Bears signed him to the practice squad.
His performance as a starter in a season where the quarterback position has been ravaged by injury shows promise, yes, but there are factors you have to consider about his three starts:
- All three starts were in the late stages of a lost season.
- All three starts were against the 15th, 22nd, and 32nd overall defenses in the NFL.
- His only win was against one of the NFL’s worst franchises, and he played more of a game-manager role, putting up very few stats of note (but no turnovers!).
- In the game against Detroit, the Lions dropped two passes that should have been interceptions.
- …but in the same game, two Bears holding penalties denied a very feasible opportunity to tie or even win the contest.
- Barkley by all rights should have another win against the Titans, but Josh Bellamy dropped the game-winning catch in the end zone.
- Barkley’s primary targets for these games are the 4th, 5th, and 6th receivers on the WR depth chart, in addition to missing starter Zach Miller at Tight End and the protection of Kyle Long, starting Right Guard.
Some will argue that these are just excuses, and stats are stats are stats. Some will say that his lack of size is a problem. Others don’t think he has the arm strength to be a long-term elite starter.
Yet for all that, Bears fans know all about “serviceable” starting quarterbacks, and if you haven’t been convinced of Barkley via the eye test, chances are you’re not going to be swooned any time soon. In some viewpoints that kind of doubt is extremely viable and justified; for others there’s no reason not to pour yourself a large cup of hope over the play of #12 in navy.
It’s been a small but satisfying sample size for the 26-year-old California native, and while many disagree about his talent and his future, I don’t think any Bears fans are complaining over seeing somebody young and interesting start at quarterback these final few Sundays.