The axiomatic foundation of being a professional in any line of work is consistency, delivering a top-level performance time after time after time regardless of your mood, what’s going on at home or celestial alignments. Matt Barkley is at the point of establishing whether he indeed can qualify as a “professional NFL quarterback.”
Barkley shook off early interceptions to put the Bears in position to win late vs. Tennessee. He played a strong game last week against the San Francisco 49ers. Now?
As Ian Fleming’s James Bond once declared, “Once is chance. Twice is coincidence. Three times is enemy action.”
Barkley was given a second chance at an NFL career with the injuries to Jay Cutler and Brian Hoyer. He’s had two successful starts (the Bears would've beat the Titans if Bears receivers had only dropped five passes instead of 10). Now Barkley at age 26 starts his first game on the road, his first game against a team with a winning record and his first game with game tape that opposing defenses can study.
“You go on the road and it's a different experience for a quarterback,” offensive coordinator Dowell Loggains said. “He's starting a road game. He did play a little bit in Green Bay, but he was coming off the bench and he didn't take one practice rep. Now he's got a chance to own this game plan, have a full knowledge of it, what's going into it. We're excited to see how he goes out and plays.”
He’s not the only one.
The organization’s quarterback depth chart is in a molten state. Some decisions have been made but not all of them and certainly not all of them regarding Barkley, who is in a prove-it situation after failed stops in Philadelphia and Arizona under head coaches from the offensive side of the football.
Barkley took those experiences as motivation, not failures.
“I think it made me hungry,” Barkley said. “Seeing Carson (Palmer in Arizona) work gave me a new perspective on what it means to be an NFL quarterback. Coming from a vet with his experience and how he still works his butt off every day, harder than anyone else on the team, gave me a new perspective on the position and made me hungry to want to play.”
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And the winner is ...
Few Bears seasons have been more difficult to assess than 2016, in no small part because of the personnel carousel that has started with three different starting quarterbacks. The Bears have won games with each of the three but have proved capable of unexpected highs (Minnesota) and jaw-dropping lows (at Tampa Bay).
View from the Moon operatives predicted the Bears would win the first Detroit game, which they did. The Lions have been the NFL’s best comeback team of 2016, playing 60-minute games and winning them in the final quarter. But it has been difficult to trust the Lions and quarterback Matthew Stafford late in seasons. The Lions are tied for fewest giveaways in the NFL; the Bears are No. 31 with just eight takeaways, which bodes ill for the Bears.
“That’s probably our weak link right now,” coach John Fox said. “I think it affects our scoring offense. I think it affects scoring in general. Yards are important. There’s things you look at, the indicators. But ultimately, it’s points, whether it’s on offense or defense. But it’s something that we’ve preached. It’s going to be critical in this game just like it is in all games.”
The Lions are favored. View from the Moon will stay with its early prediction, anticipate a Stafford issue (he has thrown zero interceptions in seven of his last eight games — he’s due) and call for the upset.
Bears 20, Lions 19
View from the Moon 2016 record: 7-5