QB Matt Barkley ‘confident’ he can contribute to the Arizona Cardinals
TEMPE, Ariz. — It’s hard to quantify, but quarterback Matt Barkley may have had the best offseason of any Arizona Cardinals player.
Of course his starting point was quite different from that of his teammates.
Officially, Barkley has a year under his belt with the reigning NFC West champions, but it was a year spent on the outside, so to speak, as the scout team quarterback.
In other words, Barkley played opposing team quarterback rather than Cardinals quarterback.
“Just threw that one week at the bye week when the vets kind of took the week off,” he said, referring to how much of the Cardinals offense he ran. “We got one, I think, maybe two practices. Not a whole lot but this has been way better.”
This, as in organized team activities and mini-camp.
For the first time since his arrival, Barkley was able to concentrate solely on the Cardinals’ offense
“It’s been fantastic just to get reps in this offense, to grow as a quarterback in this system and to understand where B.A.’s mind is at in his play-calling,” he said, referring to head coach Bruce Arians. “I feel way more comfortable than last year; just grasping what’s going on and the why behind everything; not just looking at one guy and trying to get him the ball, but seeing the whole picture.
“This whole spring felt really comfortable. I thought I had a good OTAs. I heard a lot of good feedback, so I’m excited for camp and preseason.”
Count offensive coordinator Harold Goodwin among those impressed by Barkley’s offseason progress.
“You can tell from being out here from Phase I to Phase II to even now, you can see him starting to mature a little bit, too, in our system,” he said. “Because you remember he came from Coach (Chip) Kelly’s system in Philly and you know, there’s not a whole lot you need to know other than look at the card and throw the ball where he tells you to throw it. We’re a little bit more complicated — not a knock on that offense because it’s been great for Coach Kelly, but we’re a little bit more complex as far as terminology, formations and things of that nature.”
The Cardinals acquired Barkley less than two weeks before the start of the 2015 season, surrendering only a seventh-round draft pick to Philadelphia.
It was a low-cost, low-risk move for the Cardinals, who decided to take a flyer on a former four-year starter at USC.
The Cardinals now have a pair of ex-USC signal callers on the roster.
Barkley has learned quite a lot from Carson Palmer, as well as Drew Stanton.
“Especially during the season just about their process, day-to-day how they prepare for games and for our opponents; just their mentality and their attitude in approaching game dates. It’s different than what I’ve been around,” said Barkley, a 2013 fourth-round pick. “I’ve never been around older guys like that and they’ve been through a lot; been through injuries both of them; been through good teams, bad teams. It’s fun to see them now that everything is clicking with this team, how they’re approaching it and how they want to keep it that way so we’re at a high level as a team.”
It’s a big year for Barkley. It’s his contract year, the final season under his rookie deal.
Barkley, however, doesn’t see it that way.
“I think every year is big, I think every game is big, I think every practice is big,” he said. “If you’re Carson and you’ve been here for ‘X’ many years, I think you still got to be locked in and pretend that it’s big. You can say it is, and it’s no bigger than any other thing for me.”
Come training camp, Barkley will be locked in a battle with undrafted rookie free agent Jake Coker to be the Cardinals’ No. 3 quarterback.
In other words, a lot of eyes will be watching the two.
“I’m not worried about who’s watching me,” said Barkley, who turns 26 in September. “I’ve had a lot of people watch me in the past, for good and bad reasons, so I don’t think you can worry about that. I know what I’m capable of and confident that this team can use me.”
Barkley’s NFL experience is limited, to say the least.
In three season, Barkley has appeared in just four games, completing 30-of-50 passes for 300 yards with no touchdowns and four interceptions. He last played Nov. 10, 2014 against Carolina, when his one pass attempt fell incomplete.
With both Palmer, 36, and Stanton, 32, signed through 2017, many have wondered — often out loud — about the Cardinals’ quarterback of the future.
Might that be Barkley?
“I think I’ve done a good job so far. I’ve shown the coaching staff what I can do,” he said. “Once we get to San Diego (in training camp) and play a different opponent that’ll be fun and the other preseason teams that we’ll have will be a good opportunity to show them that I can play.”