The sheen has yet to wear off the newest members of the NFL's quarterback fraternity. It has barely been two weeks since they were drafted. Fans got a first look at those fresh-faced signal callers when they slipped on their first pair of NFL-issued shorts as a smattering of teams held rookie minicamps this week. In Philadelphia, Matt Barkley was back in the spotlight.
Only the talking points were more perfect than the passes in the rookie quarterback's no-contact introduction to professional football.
The strange marriage of Chip Kelly and Barkley produced plenty of head scratching when the Philadelphia Eagles stopped the USC product's precipitous fall down the draft in the fourth round. Dinged for his lack of mobility and arm strength, he seemed like an odd fit for Kelly's uptempo offense.
Barkley brushed aside those concerns after Friday's practice.
"You know, I'll make it fit. It doesn't matter what plays we run, I'm going to find a way to help this team out, and I know Coach Kelly has a way of working things out as well in terms of how he schemes and how he calls plays, so I'm not worried. I'm just worried about the here and now and what I can do right now."
You have to be a smart decision maker, a quick decision maker, which I pride myself in. [My] football knowledge, getting the ball out quick, I can make all the throws in this offense, you know. I love what we are doing and just commanding, being a commander out there, commanding the field and if it persists I'll be good.
We NFL folks like our narratives simple and easy to follow. That means putting coaches, players and their teams into simple, well-defined boxes.
One man to watch in Philly is offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur. The former Browns head coach runs a sleepy version of the West Coast offense. Shurmur's affinity for dinking and dunking down the field in four-yard increments could evolve into something more with skill players like DeSean Jackson, LeSean McCoy and Jeremy Maclin surrounding the quarterback.
Shurmur also has a reputation for working with young quarterbacks. He coached Sam Bradford to the 2010 Offensive Rookie of the Year award as the offensive coordinator in St. Louis. He made Colt McCoy and Brandon Weeden look somewhat serviceable in Cleveland. Barkley and Foles could benefit working under Shurmur.
It may not matter, though. Michael Vick is the incumbent starter in Philadelphia, for now at least. Having Vick in the fold should make for a smoother transition by allowing Kelly to run an offense similar to the one he used at Oregon while the young quarterbacks get coached up.
As for Barkley, he was saying all the right things on Friday about competing for the starting job.
I'll get to know them those guys, and I'm sure from what I've heard they are outstanding men, but you come in knowing that you have a job and they're trying to take that job as well, so it's competition, you know. Competing is what it's all about.
Lost in all the hoopla about Kelly's offense is his work as a program builder at Oregon. The Xs and Os were just one outward manifestation of the focus and dynamism that characterized his Ducks. That was his main selling point as an NFL head coach.
It's hard to say what exactly Kelly has planned for Barkley and the offense. If Kelly and Shurmur can tap into his upside, they could adapt the Eagles offense to fit around him.
Philadelphia's newest quarterback said all the right things after his first day on the practice field, the usual bits about embracing the competition and having something to prove. However, it's Kelly who has the last word on Barkley's future.