Eagles' Derek Barnett fined by NFL again

Eagles' Derek Barnett fined by NFL again

MINNEAPOLIS — For the second straight week, Eagles’ defensive end Derek Barnett has been fined by the NFL.

This time, he was fined $10,527 for an unnecessary roughness penalty against the Jets. On Nate Gerry’s pick-6, Barnett took out his frustration on Jets OL Alex Lewis, blocking him low dozens of yards from the play. The Eagles were lucky the penalty didn’t negate the touchdown. Gerry hadn’t yet crossed the goal line.

In the last two weeks, Barnett has been fined $38,602 by the NFL. (He was fined just over $28K for his hit on Jamaal Williams vs. Green Bay.) While there are other types of personal fouls, Barnett leads the NFL in unnecessary roughness calls with three.

Barnett is also the Eagles’ most penalized player with six total. 

The Eagles love that Barnett plays through the whistle but there’s a fine line and Barnett has crossed it a few times already this season through five games.

Eagles defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz this week was asked about Barnett’s penalties and gave a lengthy response: 

Yeah, both my daughters wear Derek Barnett jerseys to the games, so that tells you how much I think of him. Derek is always a guy that plays with a chip on his shoulder. It's one of the things that makes him successful.

“But you have to be careful about crossing that line, and interception returns traditionally have been — I mean, you go back and I don't want to bore you — but like 20 years ago the interception return would be like nine guys on defense trying to go mess up the quarterback.

“You get offensive linemen that are knocking you around the pile or holding you the whole time, and now it's like, I'm going to go get that guy back. You can't make it a personal war. It has to be about the team, whether it's who gets the sack or who gets the block, whatever it is. ...

“It's so hard to make plays and get interceptions or scoop fumbles. The last thing you want to do is take that away with a penalty. Derek knows that. He just has to balance playing with that chip on his shoulder and playing tough and physical and hustling, all the things we love about him, and just make sure we don't cross the line into doing something that hurts the team.

Head coach Doug Pederson has also said he’s talked to Barnett about these penalties. 

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7 reasons to be pessimistic about the Eagles' chances

7 reasons to be pessimistic about the Eagles' chances

The ability to look at the glass half full is great. For Eagles fans, perhaps it’s also necessary to enjoy the remainder of this season, because while the team has a 5-4 record and there are reasons to be hopeful a playoff run is still in order, there are also quite a few issues you need to overlook. 

Hey, the term Negadelphia exists for a reason. 

In all honesty, I probably fall slightly more on the optimistic side myself, for many of the same reasons you can read here. However, as somebody who entered the season with high expectations for the Eagles, there are some serious flaws nine weeks into the season that I haven’t been able to ignore. 

In other words, while the Eagles could get hot, reach the postseason, maybe even make it all the way to the Super Bowl, there’s also strong evidence to support the contrary. 

UNREMARKABLE WINS: You can only beat the teams on the schedule, yet the simple fact of the matter is the Eagles have beaten one truly quality opponent this season: the Packers. Washington and the Jets are abysmal, while the Bills (don’t care what their record is, they stink) and Bears don’t have NFL offenses. Meanwhile, the Eagles lost to the pitiful Falcons and mediocre Lions, not to mention were blown out by the Vikings and Cowboys. 

Sure, the schedule eases up in a couple weeks, but what about their record so far has anybody convinced they wouldn’t drop a game to, say, Miami, or the Giants, much less come away with wins against the few respectable opponents remaining? 

THE NEXT TWO GAMES: Speaking of which, things could get worse before they get better. There’s a very real chance the Eagles will dip below .500 again with back-to-back games coming against the Patriots and Seahawks. It wouldn’t necessarily be the end of the world, but 5-6 doesn’t leave a lot of room for error, either. 

THE LINEBACKERS: To be fair, linebacker isn’t a terribly important position in today’s NFL. It’s sort of like having an elite running back — never a bad thing, but competence is good enough to win. 

Do the Eagles even have competent linebackers? OK, Nigel Bradham hasn’t been healthy, though he isn’t exactly a model of consistency anyway. Otherwise, Nathan Gerry has been the defense’s best linebacker this season, tackling issues be damned. For all the attention the poor cornerback play was getting earlier in the season, you better believe offenses have been taking advantage of the middle of the field, too.

JORDAN MATTHEWS: I like Jordan Matthews! I liked him during his first tenure with the Eagles, I liked him during his second tenure, and I suggested the club re-sign him a couple weeks ago, so I like him on this squad, too. But Jordan Matthews as the offense’s No. 1 receiver in 2019 is not ideal! And that’s exactly what he’s going to become if Alshon Jeffery misses time with an injury — maybe even if he doesn’t. 

All of this is really a way of saying that listing Matthews as one of the reasons to be optimistic about the Eagles is actually highlighting what a disaster the wide receiver position is, because while he can certainly help, you prefer the guy who was on the street in November isn’t instantly the best option.

THE COWBOYS: Again, it might be a stretch to look at Dallas and suggest it’s a reason to feel confident in the Eagles. Not to argue the Cowboys are some formidable opponent, either, but the harsh reality is they’ve owned the Eagles recently, to the tune of three straight wins, not mention kicked their tails a mere month ago. The Cowboys also have a few things the Eagles don’t — namely, receivers and linebackers — so you could argue they’re a more complete team. 

The one thing the Eagles have going for them here is Dallas plays a tougher schedule, but if they lose to the Cowboys again in December, it probably won’t matter. Right this moment, I don’t know how you can feel good about that matchup. 

DIVISION CHAMPS OR BUST: And here’s the kicker. The Eagles more than likely need to beat Dallas. A lot can happen between now and Week 17, though as the playoff race stands now, the Eagles are essentially three games out of a wild-card spot, considering the Vikings would own the head-to-head tiebreaker. Crazier things have happened, but at the very least, it’s not something anybody should count on happening. 

Which means the only path to the postseason would be to win the NFC East, which probably means a) beating Dallas, which they haven’t done, b) winning at least three additional games, which based on the results is far from guaranteed, and c) doing it with replacement-level talent at wide receiver and linebacker. 

WHO’S STEPPING UP? If the Eagles are to have any chance of overcoming this mess, it’s going to take some star-caliber performances. But who on this team is playing at a truly elite level? 

Right now, the Eagles can hang their hat on the running game, solid offensive line and run defense. The pass rush appears to be trending in the right direction (who knows based on the competition they faced), and Carson Wentz has been very good but probably short of great. Is that enough talent to win in the NFL? 

The Eagles need more from Zach Ertz, but he’s the focal point of defensive game plans because Jeffery and Nelson Agholor aren’t threats. They need Malcolm Jenkins and Rodney McLeod to stop blowing assignments, because Jalen Mills and Ronald Darby are going to get beat from time to time. They need Fletcher Cox to be dominant, because it makes the other 10 guys on defense that much better. 

The list goes on. The Eagles need a lot of guys to play a lot better, which unfortunately may be too much to ask.

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Week 11 NFL power rankings: A shakeup at the top of the NFC

Week 11 NFL power rankings: A shakeup at the top of the NFC

The Eagles (5-4) got to watch football last Sunday on their bye week, but they come back with seven games left and a good shot to make it to the playoffs. 

Let’s take a look at the latest NFC power rankings, which includes a shakeup at the top: 

1. Seahawks (8-2) Last week: 3
A new No. 1! In a really fun game on Monday night, the Seahawks handed the 49ers their first loss of the season. Seattle kicked a 42-yard field goal as time expired in overtime to pick up a 27-24 win over their divisional foe. That means the Seahawks have won both of their last two games in overtime. Their only losses this season are to the Saints and Ravens. 

2. 49ers (8-1) Last week: 1
I admire the 49ers’ aggressiveness, but they probably should have played for a tie late in that overtime. That would have kept more distance between them and the Seahawks in the NFC West. Anyway, they have just one loss and it came in overtime to a good team. After a game against the Cardinals, the Niners have three tough ones in a row, against the Packers, Ravens and Saints. 

3. Packers (8-2) Last week: 4
Even though the Packers let the Panthers stick around late, they got another win over a quality opponent, beating Carolina 24-16. They bounce back after that bad loss to the Chargers and have a bye week before traveling to San Francisco in Week 12. 

4. Saints (7-2) Last week: 2
Coming off the bye week, the Saints laid an egg against the Falcons, losing 26-9. That’s a bad loss. 

5. Vikings (7-3) Last week: 5
Nice 28-24 win over the Cowboys for the Vikings, but there’s no room for them to go up. I don’t think they’re better than any of the teams listed above them. Still, they’re just one game behind Green Bay in the NFC North and face the Broncos before their Week 12 bye. 

6. Cowboys (5-4) Last week: 7 
The Cowboys should have beaten the Vikings late in that game but a few questionable play calls killed them. Dallas is a talented team, but I question their coaching staff. 

7. Eagles (5-4) Last week: 8 
The Eagles rested on their bye week, but came out of it in a much better spot than they went in, largely because of the Cowboys’ loss. I couldn’t put them ahead of Dallas thanks to their head-to-head game a few weeks ago, but they have better playoff chances right now. 

8. Rams (5-4) Last week: 6
The Rams' offense looks broken, but at least Sean McVay remembers what he had for lunch 12 years ago. 

9. Panthers (5-4) Last week: 9
I won’t kill the Packers for losing to the Packers. They’re not on that level, but the Panthers were two yards away from possibly tying the game when a Christian McCaffrey run from the 2 fell short and time ran out on Carolina in a 24-16 loss. The Panthers had five plays inside the 10-yard line and couldn't score. 

10. Bears (4-5) Last week: 12
After losing four straight games, the Bears got a 20-13 win over the Lions, who were without Matthew Stafford. Remember, the Bears were 3-1 at one point earlier this season. 

11. Lions (3-5-1) Last week: 11
Without Matthew Stafford, the Lions lost to the reeling Bears, 20-13. It’s their second-straight loss and their fourth in five games since their early bye. So much for the Lions being contenders. 

12. Buccaneers (3-6) Last week: 13
After four-straight losses, the Bucs got a 30-27 win over the Cardinals last week to stop the bleeding. 

13. Cardinals (3-6-1) Last week: 10 
A three-point loss to the Bucs drops the Cards down three spots. 

14. Falcons (2-7) Last week: 15
Where did that come from? The Falcons went to New Orleans last week and beat the Saints, 26-9. Their two wins this season are over the Eagles (5-4) and the Saints (7-2). This is a weird league. 

15. Giants (2-8) Last week: 14
They lost to the Jets and now have to think about what they’ve done over the bye week. 

16. Redskins (1-8) Last week: 16 
Washington will face the Jets coming off their bye week for a rare chance to get a win. Good for them, deciding to go with Dwayne Haskins the rest of the way. 

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