A quarterback can win or lose games for you. In a league with frequent time lost to injuries, this also holds true for backup quarterbacks. No one wants Josh Allen to get hurt but the Buffalo Bills need to be prepared. Does this mean Matt Barkley? Let’s take a look at the current “Plan B” at quarterback.
Matt Barkley attempted 51 passes this season. Below you can see my notes on all of them and if you look for the word “drop” you’ll see seven passes with that label. One of these I don’t put a ton of blame on the receiver so let’s call it six. While Barkley’s 52.94 completion percentage was less than ideal, a couple less drops would have helped in a big way.
This was one credited directly to the receiver as Matt Barkley delivers a nice ball to Duke Williams. Williams is the best option as well. A and B are both short of the line to gain (the 46) and unlikely to get there. Options C and E are both running longer developing routes and won’t look for the ball until after the pressure has made the decision for Barkley. Duke has a shot to break from his defender. If he makes the catch that is.
While Play 1 talks about options, the reality is that Matt Barkley didn’t look around a whole lot. This is almost certainly by design with Barkley spending less time running the offense than Josh Allen, but it does lead to some problems. Barkley’s tendency to lock right onto his target backfires here. He turns his body to such a degree it tips his hand, with throws being available only in the slice of pizza in the GIF above. Despite how quickly the ball is out, it’s batted at the line. In his 51 attempts, I counted four instances of a tipped/batted ball.
While Matt Barkley only had a handful of bad throws if you check the notes, that’s not a positive sign when there’s so few attempts. This has an argument for worst throw as the easy lob goes seriously awry. There was a decision or two that rivaled this one however. There’s reason to expect some of this would smooth out if forced to play more than one game, but there is some reason to think Barkley would be a little shaky at times.
Another phrase to check for in the notes is “in stride.” With little opportunity to build chemistry it was a pleasant surprise to write those words as often as I did. Some of this may have been due to the laser focus on a single receiver at times and/or the simplified play designs called for Barkley. Neither are knocks on the quarterback, mind you, but rather a necessity of the position.
Not only is this a really good throw, notice the pump fake to prevent another batted ball. This play helps us be a little more comfortable that Matt Barkley would improve if he needed to settle in a little bit. We should also note most of Barkley’s time on the field in 2019 was with backups on the line who didn’t always do him favors. Barkley was consistently willing to stay in a rapidly shrinking pocket to deliver the ball.
The Buffalo Bills should feel comfortable sticking with Matt Barkley as the backup quarterback. There are clear reasons he’s not the starter but he filled in well, all things considered. Brian Daboll also seems to understand Barkley’s ability very well and routinely called plays with a shot at success. Throw in what appears to be an excellent locker room presence and the Bills should consider the backup spot set.