Eagles

Derek Barnett comes through in clutch for Eagles

Derek Barnett comes through in clutch for Eagles

Brandon Graham couldn’t help but have a little Super Bowl LII flashback. 

Late in the fourth quarter, game on the line, they had barely touched the opposing quarterback, everyone knew they needed to make a play. 

All that should sound familiar. 

But this time, as Graham’s eyes widened on his way to Andrew Luck, he was chop blocked by a running back. It wasn’t Graham who made the play of the game. 

“But to see DB get it, boy,” Graham said, shaking his smiling head. “I was happy for him.”

On the crucial 4th-and-3 play, second-year defensive end Derek Barnett dipped under left tackle Le’Raven Clark and got just enough of Andrew Luck to send the Colts’ quarterback stumbling to the ground. 

After the defense had failed to hit Luck for most of the afternoon, Barnett came through at the absolute moment the Eagles needed him. 

Everyone on the team said they were impressed by Barnett, but the most effusive praise came from the head coach, which is a good sign for any player. 

Here’s what Doug Pederson said:

Yeah, great play. The kids keeps getting better and better. I have been pleased with how he works in practice. He’s an unselfish ballplayer. He’ll play special teams if you ask him. He’ll rush the passer if you ask him. He does so many great things and we’re so excited to have a player like Derek and a young player like Derek who can play extensively and work in the rotation. 

It just seems like somewhere in the game, 96 is going to show up and make a play. And he did that several times today.

Barnett, 22, didn’t have a sack in the first two games of his first season as a starter but left the Linc with 1 1/2 Sunday night. He and Fletcher Cox combined for the only other sack earlier in the game. 

The Eagles are obviously hoping for big things from Barnett this season. They used their first-round pick on him a year ago and after rotating him in last year, he’s been their starter opposite Graham this year, which means Michael Bennett and Chris Long are rotational plays. 

“I think Derek is a great player,” Fletcher Cox said. “I think the biggest thing is he understands the situation and knows what part of the field we’re in. You know, just doing his job. On that play right there, he didn’t do anything special. He just did his job around the edge, and that’s why we brought him here to rush the quarterback.”

Cox is right. On that big fourth-down sack, Barnett didn’t do anything special. He just used his unique bend around an overmatched offensive tackle and got a sack. But that’s what makes him so good. 

It felt like it took Luck about 40 seconds to finally fall to the ground after Barnett tripped him up. Graham watched and then tapped Luck on his shoulder while he was down to make sure the play was dead. Malcolm Jenkins said by the time he turned around, Luck was already tripping to the turf. Corey Graham was actually hoping Luck would throw the ball to his man in the slot. He thought he was about to make a play of his own. 

But instead, the honor went to Barnett. 

Graham said with their rotation on the line, every time a defensive end is on the field, they need to go 100 mph because they never know when the play they make could win the game. 

That was Graham in Super Bowl LII. And it was Barnett on Sunday.

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Redskins sign Eagles Super Bowl starter Ronald Darby

Redskins sign Eagles Super Bowl starter Ronald Darby

The Eagles will now see Ronald Darby twice a year. Which is about how often they’ve seen him the last few years.

OK, that’s a slight exaggeration, but Darby, who missed 22 games in his three years with the Eagles, agreed to terms of a one-year, $4 million deal with the Redskins Sunday, according to ESPN.

The Eagles acquired Darby from the Bills just before the 2017 season for Jordan Matthews and a third-round pick in 2018. Darby missed nine games with an ankle injury before returning to the starting lineup and playing at a high level down the stretch as the Eagles went on their Super Bowl run.

He suffered a torn ACL that cost him the last seven regular-season games and the postseason in 2018 and missed five games last year with hamstring and hip injuries.

Darby, who won a bronze medal in the 200-meter dash at the 2011 IAAF World Championships, had six interceptions as an Eagle, the most by any Eagles cornerback during the Doug Pederson Era.

At his best, he was a speedy, aggressive playmaking corner, but the Eagles just did not see that player very often, especially the last two years.

The Eagles went into the offseason committed to revamping the secondary, and they never had any intention of re-signing Darby, who made $5.625 million last year.

In Washington, Darby will be playing for new head coach Ron Rivera. The Redskins signed Kendall Fuller as a free agent but traded Quinton Dunbar, who started 11 games at corner for the Skins last year, to the Seahawks last week.

Darby is the seventh Eagles’ unrestricted free agent to sign elsewhere, following Halapoulivaati Vaitai [Lions], Jordan Howard [Dolphins], Kamu Grugier-Hill [Dolphins], Malcolm Jenkins [Saints], Nelson Agholor [Raiders] and Richard Rodgers [Redskins]. All but Howard were members of the 2017 Super Bowl team.

The Eagles made no effort to re-sign any of them.

Of the Eagles’ 15 free agents, only Jason Peters, Nigel Bradham, Vinny Curry and Josh McCown remain unsigned. The Eagles brought back Jalen Mills, Rodney McLeod, Nate Sudfeld and Hassan Ridgeway.

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Ever wonder how many Philly natives played for the Eagles?

Ever wonder how many Philly natives played for the Eagles?

When the Eagles signed Will Parks, who grew up at 2nd and Allegheny and attended since-shuttered Germantown High School, it got me wondering how many Philadelphia natives have played for the Eagles.

The answer is not many. Especially recently.

Going back to 1940, we found 14 Philly natives who played in at least one regular-season game for the Eagles.

We’re not including players from the suburbs [Vince Papale, Josh Adams, Matt Bahr] or Philly natives the Eagles drafted who never got into a game [Raheem Brock, Steve Ebbeke].

Anybody missing?

SHAREEF MILLER [2019]: You don’t have to go very far back to find the last Philly native to play for the Eagles. Miller, their 4th-round pick last year, graduated from George Washington High up in Somerton, and he did play for the Eagles last year – two special teams snaps against the Bills.

BRUCE PERRY [2005-06]: Perry, also a George Washington graduate, was the Eagles’ 7th-round pick in 2004. He played five games with the Eagles and had 16 career carries. On the last day of the 2005 season, he ran 15 times for 70 yards against the Redskins, a 4.7 average. He never had another NFL carry.

UHURU HAMITER [2001-02]: Hamiter was a defensive end who played at Mastbaum High in Kensington, leading the Panthers to the 1996 Public League championship. After playing at Delaware State, he went undrafted in 1998, but he signed with the London Monarchs of the World League and had seven sacks. The Eagles brought him into training camp that summer, and although he didn’t make the roster, he did resurface in 1999 with the Saints and played five games. He returned to Philly and played in eight games.

CHUCK WEBER [1959-61]: Weber went to Abington High, but he grew up in Philly, so we’ll keep him in the Philly section. Weber was actually the Eagles’ middle linebacker in 1960, when Chuck Bednarik played outside. Weber had six INTs in 1960, most by an Eagles linebacker until William Thomas had seven in 1995. In a 1960 game against the Cowboys at the Cotton Bowl he became the first linebacker in NFL history with three INTs in a game. He remains one of only six Eagles with three interceptions in a game and the only linebacker. Kurt Coleman is the last to do it.

EDDIE BELL [1955-58]: Bell went to West Philadelphia High and played at Penn. The Eagles drafted him in the 5th-round in 1953, and Bell, one of the first African-Americans to play in the NFL, had nine INTs in four seasons with the Eagles before spending time in the CFL and then the AFL with the New York Titans, who eventually became the Jets.

JOHN MICHELS [1953]: Not to be confused with the John Michels who was once traded for Jon Harris, this John Michels was a guard who went to West Catholic and then played at Tennessee. He was a 25th-round draft pick in 1953 and played 11 games for the Eagles.

JESS RICHARDSON [1953-61]: Richardson was from East Falls and went to Roxborough High. He was the Eagles’ 8th-round pick in 1953 as a defensive tackle out of Alabama. Ray Didinger tells me Richardson grew up blocks away from the Kelly family and was friends with Grace Kelly, who became Princess of Monaco. He played nine of his 12 NFL seasons with the Eagles, made a Pro Bowl in 1959 and started on the 1960 NFL Championship team.

WALT STICKEL [1950-51]: Stickel went to Northeast High and played at both Tulsa and Penn before the Bears drafted him in the 21st round in 1945. He finished his career with the Eagles, playing in 11 games.

MIKE JARMOLUK [1949-55]: Jarmoluk, an interior lineman, attended Frankford High and Temple and was drafted by the Lions in 1945 before finishing his 10-year NFL career with the Eagles.

BILL MACKRIDES [1947-51]: Mackrides played at West Philly and Nevada and was the Eagles’ 3rd-round pick as a QB in 1947. He spent all but three games of his six-year career with the Eagles and was a backup on two NFL Championship teams. He threw 15 touchdown passes.

BERT KUCZYNSKI [1946]: Kuczynski went to Northeast High and Penn and played in one game for the Eagles.

MIKE MANDARINO [1944-45]: A West Catholic and La Salle grad, Mandarino played in 13 games for the Eagles in the 1940s.

BUCKO KILROY [1943-55]: Kilroy grew up in Port Richmond and attended Northeast Catholic and played college ball at both Notre Dame and Temple and also served in the Merchant Marines before spending his entire 13-year NFL career as an interior lineman with the Eagles, often playing both ways. He started 103 games for the Eagles, playing on both the 1948 and 1949 NFL Championship teams and was named to the NFL’s Team of the Decade for the 1940s. After his playing career, Kilroy spent nearly 50 years as an NFL executive, including 37 years with the Patriots.

JACK FERRANTE [1941, 1944-50]: Great story. Ferrante grew up in South Philly and then West Philly and briefly attended high school somewhere in the city, although nobody seems to remember exactly where. He left school to work during his sophomore year and was only 18 when he starting playing semi-pro football. After earning a local reputation, he got a tryout with the Eagles in 1941. He played three games and caught two passes, then got another tryout in 1944, and this time he stuck. Ferrante wound up spending the next seven years with the Eagles, catching 169 passes for 2,884 yards, 31 TDs (tied with Brent Celek for 12th-most in Eagles history) and a 17.71 average (7th-best in Eagles history) while starting for the 1948 and 1949 NFL Championship teams.

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