By Dave Zangaro
Matt McGloin has one major goal this summer: make the decision as tough as possible.
McGloin is the Eagles’ third-string quarterback at this training camp. He not only has to hold off undrafted Dane Evans, but he also has to try to prove to the Eagles that keeping three quarterbacks instead of two is the right decision.
Then, he has to prove that he’s worth the spot.
“That’s all you can do is make their job difficult,” McGloin said this week. “If I don’t play well in preseason, it’s not a difficult decision. If I don’t play well in training camp and I don’t show these guys that I’m taking the right steps in the right direction and executing what they want me to do, then their decision will be very easy. I kind of feel like I’m in a good place right now and I need to keep moving forward and focus on the task at hand.”
Carson Wentz and Nick Foles are cemented in as the Eagles’ starting and backup quarterbacks. That’s not going to change no matter how McGloin plays. But his fate depends on whether or not the Eagles decide to spend a roster spot on a third-string quarterback.
Last year, the Eagles were prepared to take three quarterbacks into the season but those were very different circumstances. Sam Bradford was the starter, Chase Daniel was the backup and Wentz was the young draft pick. That obviously changed once Bradford was dealt to the Vikings; then, the Eagles took just two quarterbacks into the season.
The numbers make it difficult. The Eagles are allowed only 53 players on their season roster and just 46 are allowed to dress on game days. Spending a roster spot on a quarterback who will very likely never see the field is a tough proposition.
“Yeah, I mean, that’s going to be a tough decision because I think we have some good quarterbacks here,” offensive coordinator Frank Reich said. “There are a lot of roster considerations that get played into it. It’s hard to predict what those are going to be and what they look like. I’ve been places where you can only keep two because of roster considerations. But if everything – in a perfect world, sometimes you can keep three. I think that is truly a day-by-day decision.”
Over the last week, McGloin has had extra chances to prove himself. Foles has missed practices with a sore elbow, so McGloin has taken over with the second team and has found mixed results.
How does he think he’s been performing?
“I think the ball has been coming out of my hand pretty well,” he said. “I think I picked up the system fairly quickly. I think my decision-making is good but it can always be better. Definitely mechanics you always need to work on. Really excited to work with the guys. There are a lot of good players out there who a lot of times make me look good. It’s a good group of guys out there. I feel like I’m in a good place right now. I just have to keep improving.”
McGloin, 27, isn’t like most third-string quarterbacks. He’s not some developmental player. He’s started in the league before. As a rookie in Oakland in 2013, McGloin played in seven games and started six. But McGloin has started just one game since.
The Penn State product joined the Eagles as a free agent this offseason after his rookie deal with the Raiders expired.
He decided to come to Philly to be reunited with quarterbacks coach John DeFilippo, who was his quarterbacks coach from 2013-14. McGloin said he didn’t hesitate to come to a team that already seemed to have its quarterback situation figured out.
If the Eagles don’t keep McGloin on their roster, the other option might be more appealing. They can reserve just two spots for QBs on the 53 – Wentz and Foles – and then keep another quarterback (maybe Evans) on the practice squad.
McGloin’s whole mission is to avoid that and prove that he’s worth the roster spot.
So what does he think he brings to the table?
“I think everything I’ve put on film so far,” McGloin said. “It’s their decision whether or not they want to keep me. Do they like what they see from me each and every day? Do they like how quick I picked up the playbook? Do they like what I do with the football? At the end of the day, do they like me as a quarterback? Those are the questions you’d have to ask those guys. I can only tell you what I think and I think I’m doing pretty well.”