Matt Barkley Film Study – The Good, The Bad, The Ugly

Posted by Brad On November – 28 – 2012

"Matt Barkley"

Gary A. Vasquez-US PRESSWIRE

In an effort to not place myself into the camp of believers that think Matt Barkley can’t play, I decided to breakdown Barkley in all his glory.  What I found was evidence that Barkley is still a work in progress in terms of what was viewed as strong points before this season.

We all knew Barkley wasn’t a great athlete, didn’t have elite arm strength, and his size was going to be questioned.  He was not Andrew Luck or Robert Griffin for that matter.  What made Barkley special was his accuracy, decision-making, mechanics, experience, pocket presence, and he seemed to have that “it” factor.  Then came a 7-5 2012 season.

Anytime you come in on top, people are looking to knock you off the pedestal. Andrew Luck thrived under the pressure and stood up to the test of time.  Barkley seems to have regressed.  Recently, I watched over two games from 2011 and three from 2012.  Barkley was blessed with solid weapons both seasons, neither offensive line was anything to write home to mom about, and the offensive system remained the same.  With that, it’s reasonable to believe Barkley would excel and accelerate his draft stock to lock down the first pick in the 2013 NFL Draft.

What I found to be true was the opposite.  Barkley didn’t thrive and took steps backwards in terms of accuracy and decision-making.  Those two aspects play hand-in-hand with each other.  The two games that I will feature in this piece are 2012 contest versus Stanford and Oregon.  Stanford fields the best defense in the PAC 12 and Barkley was without center Khaled Holmes. He was sacked six times and was pressured on a regular basis.  Oregon was a different story, Barkley was in a shootout and his numbers would suggest he played a good game (35-54 for 484 yards and 5 TD’s).  The breakdown of the film shows more of the same from Stanford.  Signs of pure bliss at the QB position and moments that were absolutely painful to watch.

The common denominator in both games was both teams were able to pressure Barkley the A gaps.  Barkley looked confused and with little mobility to escape the pocket he was a sitting duck.  Let’s take a look at some screenshots to highlight some good, some bad, and some ugly for evaluators to consider.

"Matt Barkley"

USC lines up in a no-back, empty set.  The TE is lined up as a wing and motions wide into the boundary.  Stanford’s secondary bumps to motion with corners at 8 yards depth and the safeties at 10.

"Matt Barkley"

This read is only half the field.  To the field, both receivers are running off.  To the boundary, No. 1 sells the screen.  the slot receiver is running a crosser, and the move TE is wheeling down the sidelines.  As you can see, both the corner and guy over the slot suck up on the screen, leaving the TE wide open down the sideline for a likely big play.  On the surface this is going to be a misread, but looking at it in-depth allows us to see it’s the right read and a nice play by Barkley.

"Matt Barkley"

Barkley knows he has a free rusher.  Given this fact, Barkley won’t be able to put enough on this ball to hit the TE wheel.  The safety is in position to get over top of the throw to the sideline. While it’s likely that the ball would have been completed, Barkley does the smart thing and throws to the crosser.

"Matt Barkley"

Barkley fits this one in before the linebacker can make a play on it.  The crosser beats the safety to the point and breaks an attempt at a tackle to take this for 48 yards before being brought down short of the goal line.

"Matt Barkley"

USC is in a one-back formation.  Stanford shows a blitz with their linebackers but backs off at the snap.  Barkley doesn’t process this and rushes this throw despite having time to make an accurate throw to an open receiver.

"Matt Barkley"

Barkley rushes into this throw expecting pressure.  He has his outside receiver open with a giant window to deliver the ball.  But his mechanics (detailed in screenshot, click on the image to enlarge) are terrible leading to an incompletion on 3rd and 14.  If Barkley sets himself and uses proper mechanics this could be a big play resulting in, at worst, a first down.

"Matt Barkley"

USC are emptied out with the TE in the wing position.  Stanford’s in a two deep, man look.  They show a B-gap blitz with Chase Thomas but he drops into coverage on the snap and the Cardinal rush three.

"Matt Barkley"

Barkley’s mechanics break all the rules of throwing a ball properly.  That said, perfect mechanics are rarely possible in the NFL with all the games they play up front and in the secondary.  NFL QB’s are often confused and have to adjust from their presnap read to what they get after the snap.  It looks as if Barkley wanted to go to his outside receiver but sees Marquise Lee open up over the middle.

"Matt Barkley"

While Barkley’s mechanics aren’t perfect, the ball finds it’s way into the hole between the corner and safety.  This is an NFL throw.  Look at how many times on Sunday’s that QB’s are forced to improvise with arm angles and their feet to get the ball to the open guy.  At the end of the day, the job of a quarterback is to get the ball to the open guy.

"Matt Barkley"

This is the most frustrating part of Barkley’s game in 2012.  It’s 3rd and 15 on USC’s own 15 yard line and you are up 14-7 at this point.  Take what they give you and most importantly take care of the football.  This is flat out reckless for a guy that is expected to be a franchise QB at the next level.  One you can’t make.

"Matt Barkley"

Barkley does a nice job of reloading the ball after he realizes the pressure and steps into the open void.  As you can see the TE released into the flats and has no one to account for him.

"Matt Barkley"

Barkley tries forcing this ball into Robert Woods who is blanketed by the defender.  This is a terrible decision at this juncture in the game (or any for that matter).  Check the ball down to the TE in the flats and take what the defense is giving you.  Barkley gets lucky that the ball short hops the receiver because it’s a pick if it’s on target.  My other concern is this is a 12 yard out to the wide side of the field, a throw that’s necessary at the next level.  Barkley misses badly on this one bringing arm strength into question.  This isn’t a huge concern for me as I see signs that Barkley can make all the throws.  That said, I wouldn’t count on him to be throwing into the Lake Erie wind in December at Cleveland Browns stadium.

"Matt Barkley"

The Trojans motion Robert Woods out of the backfield on bubble action with the hopes of creating some space to fit the out route into the sideline.

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This is a thing of beauty and proof positive what proper mechanics will get you.  Click on the screenshot to enlarge the images and see the coaching points.

"Matt Barkley"

The ball is placed perfectly over the outstretched hand (ball actually is tipped) of the defender and away from the corner.  Perfect example of when Barkley is on, he is can be as accurate as any thrower in this draft.

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Barkley has to know he doesn’t have anyone to block the guy walked up at the line of scrimmage.  It’s play action to left, away from the free rusher.  That leaves Barkley’s back to a free rusher, never a good thing.

"Matt Barkley"

Barkley does a nice job of avoid stepping the defender but isn’t athletic enough to make him miss.  The defender has Barkley in his wraps and he needs to eat this ball and live for 2nd down.  It’s 34-17 in the second quarter and you’re on your own 20-yard line.

"Matt Barkley"

There are four defenders in the area that can make a play on the ball to one receiver.  You just can’t make this play against Oregon.  They prey on mistakes as their offense strikes at a moments notice.

These are clips handpicked by me to show some positives with Barkley’s game and some areas of concern.  To say, Matt Barkley is a sure-fire franchise quarterback is not appropriate but there are some aspects of his game that would suggest he’s better than what many are making him out to be and not the next Matt Leinart.

Barkley will remain my fourth senior quarterback for the reasons I have highlighted.  That fact isn’t lost in that he will be ranked somewhere between 20-35 range in my rankings.  Barkley is best suited in a short passing game predicated on rhythm.  A west coast offense would be ideal for Barkley to live up to his potential at the next level.  Clearly, an offense based on deep drops and the vertical passing game isn’t going to suit Barkley’s skill set.  For that reason, he limits the amount of teams that may be interested in him as their future passer and could drop him out of the first round of April’s draft.

 

  • JDub

    Brad,

    This is why I’m a fan. Don’t find this stuff on other sites. Most of its regurtation of one opinion. I think Barkley is the best qb in the draft but I respect you for showing your argument rather than just making a blanket statement.

    • bradc11

      JDub

      Thanks for the complement. This is the reason I do it. I truly love the game. Live, breathe, and eat it 24-7. Between coaching HS and NFL’s Future it’s more than a passion. Love the film study part of what I do. The mocks and articles are great but breaking down prospects is why I started the site. Much appreciated.

  • Bex_R1986

    In agreement with the compliments of JDub on this. Sets this site apart. As mentioned previously I loved the Eric Fisher film study, this also. I know what you mean about living it 24-7, I’ve just checked and I’ve watched 237 college games so far this season!

    Barkley certainly has his faults but some people are too quick to bring out the USC quarterback comparisons I think. He is his own man, not Sanchez, Leinart or Palmer. Having said that, the elements of his game that had him projected as a high pick have been part of what has let him down this year, as you’ve discussed. He’s a late first, early 2nd guy just now, but certainly maintains the potential to succeed at the next level in the right system. Nice guy, felt for him not being able to play on senior day.

    • bradc11

      Thanks Bex, means a lot from someone that knows the game as you do. You are probably ahead of me on games watched, I’m way behind. I have 2 DVR’s just for games and they are about full. On top of that I have 7 unopened videos from MAC schools that I need to open…and watch.

      I’m never a fan of comparisons and don’t think its fair to compare a guy to someone just because they went to the same school and you are projecting busts. I, too, feel for Barkley. I haven’t had a chance to talk with him, hoping to at Senior Bowl, but by all accounts he’s a nice kid on and off the field and it’s tough missing Senior Day when you stayed and probably should have come out. I think he’s a candidate for someone trading back in the first. Has to be a WC team in my opinion. He doesn’t push the ball vertically well and will struggle with 5 to 7 step drops because of lack of athleticism. He’s good in a rhythm offense with short, timing routes. Hoping he’s successful as he’s become an underdog.

      • Bex_R1986

        Well, what can I say, I make the most out of my ESPN player subscription! Have to though, coverage here in the UK is ok, but limited. The MAC has been fantastic this year, packed with talent.

        As I’ve seen several people mention previously, Barkley will likely climb back up a bit during the pre-draft process through the interviews, and should ultimately end up in the 1st. There’s a reason he came into the season as a potential 1st overall pick, that hasn’t all evaporated!