NFL.com's Albert Breer spent Monday at Philadelphia Eagles practice. Here are his 10 takeaways on new quarterback Matt Barkley, coach Chip Kelly's transition from college to the pros and how the players are adjusting to the new system.
1. Fourth-round draft pick Matt Barkley made his share of rookie mistakes, throwing into coverage and holding the ball too long. But on throws in which he was locked in and had it right, he flashed fantastic accuracy. And in the long run, that's important, especially in the style of play preferred by head coach Chip Kelly.
2. An overlooked key to playing quarterback in Kelly's high-speed, no-huddle offense is consistency. Avoiding short, three-and-out drives is important because those mean the defense is on the field even longer, leading to tired players. At the college level, the option game was a good way to keep the defense on the sidelines, but that scheme wonât be nearly as helpful in the NFL.
3. Much of Barkley's skill set could put him in a good position to help Kelly run a fast-paced offense. But the gap in arm strength between Barkley and Mike Vick was glaring.
4. LeSean McCoy said the misdirection built into Kelly's offense is the biggest reason why he thinks it will be a good fit for the personnel on hand. It provides the potential to get guys like McCoy and DeSean Jackson out into the open field for plays. But doing that in the NFL will require a different set of tools than Kelly used in college.
5. But one piece of college ball you can expect to see the Eagles adopt this year is the read-option offense. It's clearly been added to the teamâs offense, and it can work as part of an NFL offense. The key is balancing it so hits to the quarterback are limited.
6. On defense, there's no question that the 3-4 front is the guts of what the Eagles want to be, and it was especially clear when they went 7-on-7 and had edge players like Connor Barwin and Trent Cole participating. The 3-4 will be the team's base.
7. Speaking of guys like Barwin and Cole, one tenet that's clear -- and it was at Oregon too -- is that Kelly has put a premium on finding players across the board who can line up in different spots and play multiple roles. Flexibility is key.
8. The signaling system will be interesting to follow once the actual games start. Kelly gets the benefit of the direct coach-to-quarterback communication he didn't have in college. But Kelly didn't act like he was going to rely on that alone. In an effort to move as fast as possible, the other 10 guys were getting signals Monday from the sideline, which should streamline the process with everyone quickly getting cues directly from the coach, as opposed to waiting for a quarterback to relay them.
9. Another thing that's obvious was so much of what Kelly's doing on the practice field requires a lot of effort from the players. Getting people who buy in all the way is hugely important. Itâs easy now, when everything is new. Sustaining the enthusiasm over months and years will be more challenging.
10. Finally, anyone who can get to one of these practices in the summer, either at the facility or the stadium, should do it. Kelly's not reinventing the game here, but it is different, entertaining and definitely worth a couple hours to check out.