Nothing Wrong With a Little Swag and Self Confidence From Your Quarterback

By Chris Murray

For the Chris Murray Report and the Philadelphia Sunday Sun

Matt Barkley tells reporters he believes that he can start for the Eagles in 2013.

Matt Barkley tells reporters he believes that he can start for the Eagles in 2013.

PHILADELPHIA—Shortly before the 2011 NFL Draft, soon-to-be Carolina Panthers  quarterback Cam Newton declared to the world that he wanted to be an “icon and an entertainer” as a starting quarterback in the NFL.

Of course, a lot of us sportswriter types, especially one from CBS, got their collective panties in a bunch when Newton said that because they thought he was being arrogant and immature.

Apparently, Newton’s youthful bravado and self-confidence unnerved an uptight sports media establishment. Now the whole icon thing was a bit goofy on Newton’s part, but you had to admire his self confidence at the time.

Do you really want your quarterback to be unsure of himself? I saw Newton’s icon declaration as a silly expression of youthful exuberance, but I admired his uncompromising belief in himself. Self confidence in a 22-year-old quarterback or a sports writer is a damned good thing.

When Eagles fourth-round draft pick and former Southern Cal star Matt Barkley rolled into the Eagles rookie minicamp last Friday he said he expects to be competing for the Eagles starting job. That declaration raised a few eye brows among fans and media, especially with experienced players like Michael Vick, Nick Foles, Dennis Dixon and G.J Kinne all fighting for the starting nod.

At the end of the day, I’m not mad at Barkley for coming into camp with that kind of attitude and neither is Eagles head coach Chip Kelly. Barkley has a chip on his shoulder and wants to prove that he was better than a fourth-round pick.

“I would hope anybody that came into this place isn’t sitting here and saying I think I’m going to be a really good, solid backup,” Kelly said.  “I want our guys to come in here and show us everything that they can do, and our job as a coaching staff is to put the best guys on the field the first game against Washington that will help us win, and if that’s Matt, that’s Matt, so we’ll see how that goes.”

That’s the thing you have to like about this Eagles quarterback competition is that you have bunch of guys that are unafraid to claim it for themselves.  Vick came into the pre-draft mini camp saying that it was his job to lose, especially after last year’s tough season.

“It’s still my team, still my job and that’s the mindset you gotta have,” Vick said. “I believe in myself and my abilities and I believe in the guys on this football team.”

And then you have the case of Dennis Dixon who has a 2-1 record as a starting quarterback and has been struggling to find a place in the league after a season-ending knee-injury late in his senior year at Oregon.

After being a backup in Baltimore and Pittsburgh since his rookie year in 2008, Dixon believes that he can be a starter with the Birds.

“Anybody in their right mind would love competition and that’s what we have,” Dixon said. “And I’m quite sure that Michael Vick and Nick Foles would say the same thing as well. We’re excited. We’re just excited to work and let the chips fall where they may.”

Foles and Kinne will also have something to say in the outcome of this competition as well. They both believe that they will emerge as the starter when the dust settles.

It’s always given that you’re starting quarterback is a guy with a strong, accurate arm and has the ability to read and pick apart a defense.

You also want your quarterback to have some swag and an unshakeable belief in himself even when times are bad on the field.

I remember the first time I covered an NFL game as a reporter back in 1985, I saw then Washington Redskins Joe Theismann at his locker after a tough loss to the Eagles. He confidently answered every tough question, looking every reporter in the eye as if he welcomed the scrutiny.

No quarterback comes into any situation whether he’s a highly-touted rookie, a journeyman, a high-price free agent or a guy just trying to hang on for another pay check, hoping to be the starter.

I can never get a mad at a rookie quarterback or any position when he comes and says he’s going to be the man for a team.

“But if anybody came in here and said they were really vying for a backup job, then they would probably be on the bus down 95 pretty quick,” Kelly said.

Nuff said.


































































Eagles OTAs: Birds Get Acclimated to Kelly’s Way of Doing Things

By Chris Murray

For the Chris Murray Report and the Philadelphia Sunday Sun

(From left to right): Michael Vick, Dennis Dixon and G.J. Kinne take turns throwing the ball during the first day of OTAs. Photo courtesy of

(From left to right): Michael Vick, Dennis Dixon and G.J. Kinne take turns throwing the ball during the first day of OTAs. Photo courtesy of

PHILADELPHIA—If you drive by the Eagles NovaCare practice facility in South Philly and you’re hearing Nicki Manaj or hearing “What is Love,” a song made popular by a Saturday Night Live skit, you’re not driving by a nightclub nor is there a special on Margaritas.

It’s the 2013 version of Eagles organized team activities for new head coach Chip Kelly who has definitely put his own unique stamp on the team’s culture. As the team goes through its various drills, mostly dance music with a few rock songs thrown in for good measure is being pumped in through loud speakers.

Some players see the music as a way of getting used to cheering crowds on the road while others are experiencing it the way they experience on their I-pods or in the weight room when they’re working out. Eagles wide receiver Eagles DeSean Jackson said the music is forcing him to concentrate even more on what he’s doing on the field.

“It’s almost like a football game where you have the crowd, everybody screaming and all that other stuff,” Jackson said. “You just have to go in there and focus in, you can’t worry about the music.”

In between the different drills, a computerized voice blares over the loudspeakers and simply says: “Period 20 Teach.”  That’s when the coaches walk through the various schemes that they just ran on the field.

Meanwhile, if you’re trying to get a reading on who’s ahead in the race to be the Eagles starting quarterback, Kelly’s not going tell you anything just yet. At Monday’s practice, the quarterbacks were working with a mixture of starting and backup running backs and receivers.

“It’s May 13th and we’ve got a long ways to go before we set a depth chart or do anything like that,” Kelly said during his post-practice press conference.

Last week at a team charity event, wide receiver Jeremy Maclin said Michael Vick got most of the reps during the pre-draft minicamp last month and appeared to more than few people that he was getting most of the work at Monday’s practice.

“He hasn’t,” Kelly said. “Count them up. Someone charted them, I would imagine. (Vick) and Nick switched to different groups. We’re just trying to get the reps off and trying to get film and look at it.”

Relying on the eyeball test based on the idea that Kelly wants his quarterbacks to make quick decisions with the football. Vick seemed slow in going through his progressions, but was accurate with his passes.

Dennis Dixon, who worked with Kelly at Oregon, seemed to be the most comfortable with the offense in both the seven-on-seven drills and the 11-on-11drills.

Former USC star and seventh-round draft pick Matt Barkley did a good job of getting the ball out and quickly finding the open receiver. He doesn’t necessarily have the strongest arm in the world. According to Kelly, Barkley has done a good job of learning in the offense in the four days he has been with the team.

“Matt has been really good. Really thought he picked up things quickly,” Kelly said. “He’s an extremely hard worker. He’s every morning at six a.m. working at whatever it is to work on.”

Nick Foles looked comfortable in the offense and made some decent throws, but made some bad throws, too.  He also made some good reads when he handed the ball off in the running game. G.J. Kinne was about average, nothing to write home about.

Speaking of the running game, LeSean McCoy said the tempo of the offensive is a good thing for the running game and that there will be more touches for the Eagles running backs in this offense.

“There’s definitely a difference,” McCoy said. “Being able to run the ball a lot more because if you look at (Kelly’s) track record, a lot of his backs touched the ball quite a bit.  Sometimes, a big hole may be happening when a guy (on defense) might be out of place. With the backs we have here you don’t need that much room to get going.”

One of the features of Kelly’s up-tempo offense is that the players, as they are going up to the line of scrimmage will be getting the plays signaled in from the sidelines similar to the way it was done at Oregon.

“I think the game is about making quick decisions,” Kelly said. “The difference here that we didn’t have in college is we can communicate to the quarterback and there’s a lot to put on him, so there’s a whole system involved in that. We can talk to him.”