The Bills pushed the decision as far into the week as they could, waiting to see if Josh Allen could make a return to the lineup. Come Saturday however, the decision was made to make Matt Barkley the starting quarterback for Sunday’s game against the Jets. Josh Allen was declared out for the game.
Barkley, 28, has been with the team for almost two weeks and will now be thrust into the starting lineup in much the same way veteran Derek Anderson was in Week 7 at Indianapolis. Anderson had all of 12 days to prepare for the Colts. By Sunday, Barkley will have had 12 days as well.
The six-year vet has only been tasked with learning the game plan in a given week since he is so new to the scheme. Barkley feels comfortable with this week’s plan for the Jets.
“I’m kind of surprised at how quickly I was able to pick this up because of how much carry over there is from other offenses I’ve run,” said Barkley. “This is the fifth or sixth system I’ve run, and I think in the end football is football just with window dressing or frosting on top. Getting the terminology down was a fairly simple process and the coaching staff has been unbelievable in helping me get up to speed with everything. I’d say my comfort level is pretty high.”
The only hurdle he feels he still must clear is the timing with his receivers knowing his reps on the field with them have been limited.
“That’s probably the biggest thing, getting a feel for the guys. I haven’t’ gotten too many reps with them, but the routes that they’re running are routes I’ve thrown before, so I have good timing for the play,” he said. “They’re consistent receivers so I know who I can count on. Just as long as they keep running the whole game, there should be chemistry.”
The former fourth-round pick of the Eagles (2013) is the fourth quarterback to start a game for the Bills in a span of 10 games this season. One former teammate of his believes he’ll be able to handle the challenge of a quick turnaround after signing less than two weeks ago.
“I know Matt from Philadelphia. He was drafted there so I’m familiar with him,” said LeSean McCoy. “He’s a smart kid, intelligent. He may have a tough time because they have a good defense and this is a fresh start. I don’t think it’s anything he can’t handle. We’ll support him and we’ll be behind him. I’m sure he’ll have a good game. It’ll be a tough matchup. They have a good defense.”
Barkley last started in a game during this past summer with the Cincinnati Bengals, but he suffered a knee injury and left the game without making a completion in a 27-26 loss.
The Bengals subsequently placed Barkley on injured reserve. He was released by the Bengals on Sept. 12th in an injury settlement.
The five-year veteran has appeared in 11 games in his NFL career, with a season-high six starts in 2016 while with the Chicago Bears. That season he threw for just over 1,600 yards completing almost 60 percent of his passes with eight touchdowns and 14 interceptions.
His last regular season start came on Jan. 1st, 2017 when he started for the Bears against the Vikings. He went 10-14 for 125 yards with two interceptions. He also lost a fumble in a 38-10 loss.
The Bills are the fifth club he has been with in his career joining Arizona, Chicago, Cincinnati and Philadelphia.