There used to be a time in the NFL when a rookie quarterback starting Week 1 was unprecedented. The standard procedure was a young signal caller holding the clipboard in his first and many times even second season, while the veteran QB showed him the ropes and illustrated to his younger counterpart what it takes to be successful at the professional level.
These days are now gone. More and more over the years rookie quarterbacks have been trained and spent up to four years in a pro-based system in college resulting in these young players being more ready for the league than ever. There is no better example of this fact than last season. Three rookie quarterbacks came right in had a major amount of success, and all three field generals led their teams to playoff berths, one coming a whisker away from the NFC Championship Game.
These three quarterbacks are of course Andrew Luck, Robert Griffin III and Russell Wilson. None of these three looked like rookies really at any point in the season, and you could have made a case for all three winning rookie of the year the award that eventually went to RG III. I believe with the college game trending more towards pro-style concepts in many programs, this will set a trend for future young quarterbacks.
This brings me to Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Matt Barkley. Barkley has spent four straight seasons in a pro-style offense at USC, first under Pete Carroll and then Lane Kiffin. This puts him in the drivers seat for a smooth transition to the next level having already learned virtually every pro-style passing concept in the playbook. Barkley’s biggest transition will come from playing in a huddle-based offense that got down the field methodically to now playing in Coach Chip Kelly’s high-paced offense, which calls for lightning quick decision making and rarely ever huddling up. If Barkley keeps up with the pace and tempo of the offense, I think he should transition seamlessly to Kelly’s offense.
Barkley is looking to continue the trend of rookie quarterbacks coming in Week 1 and making an impact on their teams. He has a history of doing this as he started right away for both his high school and college teams, both major National programs. If Barkley keeps his head in the playbook and can keep up with the tempo of this new high octane offense, the sky is the limit for this kid.