It’s the preseason! And not just for the NFL, but for the people who create content about the NFL. The Buffalo Bills took down the Indianapolis Colts in a game where the score mattered less than getting film to make roster decisions and put in a little practice time. Speaking of practice time, this is my chance to get back into the game day GIF game, and hone my terrible puns and obscure references to things perhaps three of you will find entertaining. As you may have guessed from the title, our first 2023 season All-22 will feature the Renegade Matt Barkley.
Play 1 - Barkley’s first pass
After a failed run, the Buffalo Bills let Matt Barkley open up. A quick, timing pass to wide receiver KeeSean Johnson gained a decent chunk of yards. This was a trend for the not-quite-half of a game that Barkley played. Fast passes, mostly appearing to be predetermined reads. Johnson catches the ball while falling, but it’s hard to determine if the pass was a bit off, Johnson’s route was a bit off, or the timing was a bit off. Regardless, it’s an easy chunk.
Play 2 - 20 yards to Marcell Ateman
This was the very next play, another relatively quick play. Barkley doesn’t appear to be scanning much of the field, but times up Marcell Ateman coming free. They needed two, and got 20. If it was a predetermined read, it seems like it was the right one.
Play 3 - An incomplete pass?
Barkley went 14 of 15 on passing attempts. Here’s his lone incomplete pass. Wide receiver Tyrell Shavers has the ball hit his hands in stride and he just can’t bring it in. This would have been a very successful first-down play.
Play 4 - Touchdown to Tyrell Shavers
Shavers made up for it to end the drive as we see here. Although this was a deep play, Barkley seems to be locked in to Shavers from the beginning. The route pattern shown at the first pause creates some chaos at the line, and Shavers cleans up for an easy score.
Play 5 - Threading the needle
While Matt Barkley had a big game, there are pitfalls of the style of play the Bills had him running. Barkley locks onto tight end Jace Sternberger, does a great job avoiding pressure, and makes a throw into very tight coverage. I contemplated using the sideline angle to show that there may have been better options. After seeing this angle, I think it’s pretty obvious this was a risky decision. Sternberger boxes out the defender and comes up with it miraculously. The ball is hit loose and the Colts recover, but that’s not a Matt Barkley concern.
Play 6 - Touchdown to Dezmon Patmon
This is a nice throw helped out with a pocket Barkley can step into. Barkley’s arm is throwing well before wide receiver Dezmon Patmon is clear and drops it in perfectly.
I’ve generally been higher on Matt Barkley as a backup than many Bills fans, and this season doesn’t change anything. Barkley can navigate a pocket and has plenty of guts. Barkley won’t push for Josh Allen’s position, but he can operate a system as he’s told. Another positive for Barkley is the familiarity with the team. It’s less likely an offensive coordinator will put him in a system he’ll flounder in.