Inside the Eagles quarterback factory: The backups that time forgot

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The Eagles’ ‘QB factory’ has become quite the subject over the last few weeks ever since the selection of Jalen Hurts. Calling your team a factory for producing quarterbacks is fine in premise, but just how accurate is that tag up to this point?

A factory would imply the Eagles can bring in talent, develop it, then flip it for profit or maintain its higher value. We obviously know names like Nate Sudfeld who have stagnated in Philadelphia, but what about some of the names who slipped through the cracks?

Matt Barkley

Continuing the trend of USC quarterbacks who were just ‘meh’ at the NFL level, Matt Barkley hardly set the world on fire during his time with the Eagles. In fact, he threw for 0 TD and 4 INT in 3 games, completing 61% of his passes. Yummy.

As much as it may be a little light-hearted looking back on the former fourth-round pick’s struggle in Philadelphia, his stunning outing as a Buffalo Bill against the Jets in 2018 was nothing short of iconic. Out of nowhere, Barkley averaged 9 yards per pass, scored 2 touchdowns and threw for 232 yards. Eagles fans everywhere watched on with a tiny sense of pride…but it was to never be repeated.

Barkley remains on the Bills to this day, with that one dominant showing against the Jets living on in our memories forever.

GJ Kinne

Kinne was on and off the Eagles roster between 2013-2015 as a QB3 but rapidly transitioned to coaching after a short stint in the XFL. He joined SMU as an assistant coach in 2017 before following his Head Coach to Arkansas in 2019.

The story comes full circle when Kinne joined the Eagles coaching staff as an offensive assistant later that season, but he would eventually become Hawaii’s offensive coordinator.

This is probably the most wholesome QB3 story you’ll find when it comes to the Eagles QB factory.

Dane Evans

I miss piloting the Dane Train. The 2017 preseason was an explosive one all thanks to the Tulsa product who stepped onto the field with this daredevil attitude. A huge 41-yard touchdown pass to Marcus Johnson against the Jets stands out in a game where he rallied the offense all the way down to the five-yard line late in the game only for the drive to stagnate. Heartbreaking.

But the rushing ability flashed was so fun to watch. Matt McGloin’s Eagles preseason was about as exciting as watching paint dry. Evans finally got his shot against the Jets and quite literally ran with it, scrambling all over the place and just letting it rip like we hadn’t seen all preseason.

As of right now, he’s doing exactly that in the CFL. Evans completed 72%(!!!!!!) of his passes for 3,754 yards, 21 touchdowns, and 13 picks last year for the Hamilton Tiger Cats and his first playoff win.

I feel like a proud Father.

Tim Tebow

Tebow as a QB3 was always a perplexing choice, but there was hope that he could maybe shine through a dark time and maybe even compete for a QB2 role under Chip Kelly. That didn’t happen.

Of the 73 quarterbacks who threw at least 30 passes during that fateful preseason, Tebow’s 58.3 completion percentage tied for 47th. Big yikes. Overall, he went 21/36 for 286 yards, 2 touchdowns, and 1 interception, while rushing for a further 82 yards and a touchdown.

Although Tebow did have a relatively strong showing against the Jets in the preseason finale, it just wasn’t enough to convince anyone to keep him around. Since then, he’s pursued a career in minor league baseball and frequented some of today’s biggest sports-debate shows in a growing media career.

Mike Kafka

I call this: Clayton Thorson 1.0. Another Northwestern graduate drafted by the Eagles who did very little. To be fair, it’s hard to forget his preseason debut where he took over from Mike Vick by slinging a 57-yard pass to Chad Hall against the Jaguars. That will forever be a spicy play.

Kafka never had it easy during his time with the Eagles. Despite praise from all angles, working behind Vick, Young, Foles, Kolb, etc, in the space of two short years constantly saw him drawing the short end of the stick. He did actually see regular-season action on four occasions but was eventually released after losing out a preseason battle in his third season with the team.

He started to float around the league as a backup journeyman before heading back to Northwestern as a coach and eventually winding up in Kansas City as one, where he now works as the QB coach/passing-game coordinator under his old Head Coach Andy Reid.

Clayton Thorson

Best known for the iconic ‘Thorson song’ among PSN readers, his one-year with the Eagles was absolutely dismal had it not been for this glimmer of life.

Thorson’s preseason was just flat-out bad despite being drafted in the fifth-round and spending an offseason with Carson Wentz. Ironically enough, he ended up in Dallas where he’s now working behind Dak and Andy Dalton.

One more time for the people in the back:

DA DA DA DA DA DUH, CLAYTON THORSON

Christian Hackenberg

What an overwhelming disappointment this was. The former second-round pick was traded to Oakland by the New York Jets before ultimately being released and landing on the Eagles roster late next Summer. He’d get to face the team that traded him in preseason. A chance for revenge was imminent…until it wasn’t.

In just 16 passes, Hackenberg threw 2 interceptions and only completed 7. Wonderful.

He ventured into the AAF when that first opened and predictably, that also ended shambolically. It’s a real shame to see the Penn State product’s career derail in the way it has. Maybe there’s a coaching future down the line or a silver lining to be found…but it’s still missing as of right now.

McLeod Bethel-Thompson

McLeod John Balthazar Bethel-Thompson has the best name of any backup QB in the NFL ever. He was actually relatively accurate during his time with the Eagles, but obviously was on the team at the same time as both Bradford and Wentz, so that was only ever going to end in one way.

Like Dane Evans, the Eagles were the last team he played for before bouncing to the CFL. He started 13 games for Toronto in 2019, throwing for 4,024 yards and completing 67.9% of his passes for 26 TD and 13 INT. Oh.

Turns out MBT is pretty good at the CFL level. We have no choice but to stan.

Aaron Murray

Murray reunited with Doug Pederson on the Eagles’ practice squad in September of 2016. He really didn’t do anything of any relevance, but took to the AAF and XFL when the opportunities presented themselves.

Murray completed 16 out of the 34 pass attempts taken in week one for the Tampa Bay Rowdies for 231 yards, 0 touchdowns and 2 interceptions. A foot injury kept him out of the XFL’s second week.

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