Derek Barnett

Eagles Rookie Report: Rookies don't make big plays but make impact

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Eagles Rookie Report: Rookies don't make big plays but make impact

The Eagles took care of business Sunday by beating the lowly Bears, 31-3, at the Linc (see breakdown).

In recent weeks, first-round pick Derek Barnett and undrafted running back Corey Clement have dominated this space. This week, the rookies weren't as impactful in the Eagles' convincing win.

Here are a few of the highlights from this week's rookie report.

2nd quarter, 11:04, 3rd-and-12 at CHI 20 - Eagles 7, Bears 0
Mack Hollins is lined up in the slot on this play against corner Prince Amukamara. Amukamara gets a hold of Hollins off the line, but the rookie receiver gets a nice release off the line and forces the veteran corner to grab hold on the post route. Carson Wentz overthrows this ball as a result of the hold, but the Eagles do get the call. This is why the Eagles like Hollins. He's a matchup nightmare with the size to beat small corners and the speed and quick feet to beat longer corners.

2nd quarter, 0:38, 3rd-and-5 at CHI 26 - Eagles 17, Bears 0
This wasn't pretty by Clement but it got the job done. Wentz is lined up in the shotgun with Clement to his left. A blitzer comes off the edge from the left clean, with only Clement standing in the way of Wentz. Clement gets pushed back but gets enough of the blitzer to allow Wentz to float the ball out to Torrey Smith. The ball falls incomplete, but the Eagles get a first down because of another hold against Amukamara on Smith (see Roob's observations).

2nd quarter, 0:27, 2nd-and-10 at CHI 21 - Eagles 17, Bears 0
Nothing fancy on this play. Wentz again is lined up in the shotgun with Clement lined up to his right. It's a three-receiver set with Zach Ertz as the only tight end on the field. Clearly the Bears are thinking pass with this formation and just 27 seconds left in the half. Instead, it's a straight handoff to Clement. The formation allows the Eagles to get 1-on-1 blocks all around, including center Jason Kelce getting to the second level to block a linebacker. Clement hits the hole with a good burst and nearly picks up a first down.

3rd quarter, 7:09, 1st-and-10 at PHI 37 - Eagles 24, Bears 3
This is excellent play design from Doug Pederson. Nelson Agholor is lined up to the right in the slot. He motions left to the other slot, then swings back for the fake on the jet sweep. All that motion affects the defense. Clement does an excellent job staying patient then runs a little bubble to the left. All Wentz has to do is float the ball over the defensive end's head. Clement secures the catch and finishes off the play, plowing into two Bears' defenders for the first down.

4th quarter, 2:22, 1st-and-10  at PHI 32 - Eagles 31, Bears 3
Cornerback Rasul Douglas has been relegated to backup duty since the return of Ronald Darby last week. On this play in garbage time, Douglas flashed what made the rookie a solid stand-in during the time Darby missed. Marcus Wheaton runs a 10-yard in. Douglas, playing off coverage, as usual, reads quarterback Mitchell Trubisky's eyes and makes a break on the football. Trubisky's throw is behind Wheaton, which allows Douglas to pick it off. Unfortunately, when Douglas rolls over, he bobbles the ball and it hits the ground. Upon review, it's overturned to an incompletion. But the choreographed Electric Slide/Remember the Titans tribute was excellent.

Analysis
Barnett certainly didn't play poorly. The rookie defensive end didn't have any "splash" plays but was disciplined and did have a couple nice rushes. But as we've pointed out all season, just because he's not getting sacks, doesn't mean Barnett isn't making an impact (see report card).

Clement continues to get reps and be steady in production. After rookie camp, running backs coach Duce Staley told Clement to lose weight, work on his pass catching and — most importantly — work on his pass protection. It's to a point now where Clement is easily the team's best back on third down. This is from a guy that went undrafted in large part because he wasn't effective in the passing game in Wisconsin. He finished with four carries for 27 yards and one catch for 12 yards.

It's fair to wonder if Hollins should see more reps over Smith. While Hollins has perhaps earned it, the formula has been working for Pederson at receiver. Smith has been catching the ball more consistently and provides a veteran presence. Hollins will get his reps and he has to keep capitalize. Hollins finished with two catches for 12 yards.

Eagles DE Derek Barnett wreaking havoc as sacks starting to pile up

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Eagles DE Derek Barnett wreaking havoc as sacks starting to pile up

With each passing game, it's starting to become clearer and clearer why the Eagles used their first-round pick on Derek Barnett. 

The rookie defensive end is beginning to wreak havoc on opposing offenses. 

"This guy is very disruptive, explosive," head coach Doug Pederson said. "He's another one of those unselfish guys. He just wants to win and do whatever he can to help the team win."

Barnett, the 14th overall pick in April's draft, had two sacks and a forced fumble in the Eagles' 37-9 win Sunday night over the Cowboys at AT&T Stadium. 

In addition to Barnett's two sacks (he forced a fumble on one), he also applied pressure and hit quarterback Dak Prescott on two of his three interceptions. 

It seemed like Sunday was probably Barnett's best NFL game so far. The 21-year-old humbly didn't go along with that assessment. 

"I think I did some good things, but I need to do a better job in the run game," Barnett said. "I didn't do that well in the run game. At the end of the day, we won. That's all that matters. We got a victory and let's all go back to Philly." 

After failing to record a sack in his first five NFL games, Barnett now has 4.5 in his last five games. He is second among all NFL rookies in sacks this season. 

He's already eighth on the Eagles' rookie sack list and could move up that list quickly. Two more sacks would put him third behind just Reggie White (13) and Corey Simon (9.5). 

Sacks sometimes come in bunches. 

"I just think they're coming now," Pederson said. "I think he's getting comfortable in the role. He's developing. He's understanding the game. He studies tackles, he studies his opponent. He's developed a couple of different moves. It's just his willingness. It just clicks for any player. They start to come. I love where he's at right now too." 

Even before the sacks started coming, Barnett was quietly getting pressure. Now, he's getting pressure and finishing the plays. 

Barnett played 51 percent of the Eagles' defensive snaps Sunday and is closing on the 50 percent mark on the season. While he hasn't been widely talked about as a Defensive Rookie of the Year candidate, he could make a case quickly if these numbers keep piling up. 

More importantly, he could offer the Eagles a dangerous pass-rusher as they make their way down the stretch and into the playoffs.

And he's doing it with the same traits that made him attractive to the Eagles in the first place. 

Remember just after he was drafted, when vice president of player personnel Joe Douglas raved about Barnett's "excellent" ankle flexion? 

Well, check out Barnett's bend on his fourth-quarter strip sack: 


 

He bent around the left tackle and came at Prescott horizontally. 

He did it earlier in the game on the Rodney McLeod interception: 

 

And remember how much everyone praised his high motor and compete level? 

Check out his first-half sack. He willed his way to a sack and wouldn't let Prescott escape. 

Sunday was Barnett's second career two-sack game; they came less than a month apart. And it looks like there are plenty more sacks in his future. 

"They're starting to come in slowly but surely," Barnett said. "Everybody says to pass rush, you have to keep on rushing. You can't get down. You're going to be in your little slumps and stuff. You have to keep on grinding through it. It's eventually going to break." 

Eagles Rookie Report: Derek Barnett disruptive, Corey Clement scores yet again

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Eagles Rookie Report: Derek Barnett disruptive, Corey Clement scores yet again

The Eagles took over the second half of a 37-9 road win Sunday night over the rival Cowboys (see breakdown).

First-round pick Derek Barnett continued to look the part and Corey Clement found the end zone yet again.

Here are a few highlights in this week's rookie report.

1st quarter, 1:15, 2nd-and-10 at DAL 20 - Eagles 7, Cowboys 6
Barnett doesn't record a sack here, but he certainly makes this play. Byron Bell isn't given any help on this play and Barnett beats him badly with an outside speed rush. Barnett arrives as soon as Dak Prescott finishes his drop and forces the second-year quarterback to throw it before he's ready. Safety Malcolm Jenkins gets the tip coming on a delayed blitz. The ball then hits off Terrence Williams and into the arms of safety Rodney McLeod. 

2nd quarter, 2:37, 1st-and-10 at DAL 25 - Eagles 7, Cowboys 6
On this play, Barnett isn't blocked. Bold strategy, Cotton. Prescott fakes the handoff right and bootlegs left. The hope is Barnett will crash down the line, hoping to blow up the run from the weak side. Instead, Barnett stays disciplined and runs straight at Prescott. This is probably Barnett's most impressive success so far this season. He bears down on Prescott, who is extremely elusive, and wraps the Cowboys' signal caller for the sack (see Roob's observations).

2nd quarter, 9:13, 3rd-and-17 at DAL 18 - Eagles 7, Cowboys 6
I'm not sure if Barnett actually affected Prescott on this throw, but I'll give him credit. Lined up in a two-point stance, Barnett initially looks like he might just settle into zone coverage. Instead, it almost works like a delayed blitz. Barnett charges in on Prescott, who then makes a terrible throw and decision to force a ball to Dez Bryant. The errant throw is easily picked off by cornerback Ronald Darby.

3rd quarter, 10:56, 2nd-and-2 at DAL 11 - Cowboys 9, Eagles 7
When the Eagles have needed a big play this season, they've called on No. 30 on more than one occasion. An eight-yard carry by Clement on first-down sets this play up. Carson Wentz in lined up in the shotgun with Clement to his right. The Eagles' were incredibly effective using traps to help mitigate the aggressiveness of the Cowboys' front four. On this play, right guard Brandon Brooks pulls to the left and seals off defensive tackle David Irving. Both left guard Stefen Wisniewski and left tackle Halapoulivaati Vaitai did an excellent job getting to the second level to take on linebackers, allowing Clement to get into the Dallas secondary. Clement yet again shows off his patience and vision and dives in for six.

3rd quarter, 10:56, Two-point conversion attempt at DAL 2 - Eagles 13, Cowboys 9
With kicker Jake Elliott out with a concussion, Doug Pederson made the decision to go for two instead of having backup linebacker Kamu Grugier-Hill attempt a kick. And Pederson pulled something interesting from his bag of tricks on this one. Initially, the Eagles line up fairly traditionally with two receivers to the right, a tight end tight to the left and Clement in the backfield. Then the players all motion out wide to the right in a diamond. Clement is the player in the back. Wentz throws the ball immediately after the snap. The ball is thrown backward so it's actually considered a run. Clement secures the catch and plunges in. This was a fun play design.

4th quarter, 10:37, 3rd-and-5 at DAL 45 - Eagles 29, Cowboys 9
Man, the Cowboys are in an awful lot of trouble without Tyron Smith at left tackle. Barnett just blows right by Bell yet again. The best part of this play is the awareness from Barnett. He sees Prescott wind back to throw and knows he won't be able to make the tackle. Instead, he reaches for Prescott's right elbow, knocking the ball loose. Linebacker Nigel Bradham scoops it up and runs it back for a touchdown.

Analysis
What else can you say about Barnett? Sure, the Cowboys are really struggling without their All-Pro left tackle, but the rookie Barnett took full advantage. He's now up to 4 1/2 sacks through 10 games while being a part-time player. Damn impressive rookie season thus far (see report card).

I'm also not sure what else you can say about Clement. Even with the addition of Jay Ajayi, Pederson still trusts the undrafted rookie. He finished with 50 yards on six carries. He's now up to six total TDs this season.