Eagles film review: Derek Barnett is playing better than you realize in 2019

Eagles film review: Derek Barnett is playing better than you realize in 2019

Through two games, Derek Barnett doesn’t have a sack. So if that’s your only metric to evaluate pass rushers, then he’s not playing very well. 

But, as is normally the case, sacks don’t always tell the whole story. Are sacks important? Heck yeah. They’re game-changing plays and Barnett will need to pick them up as the season goes along. It’s just that all pressures don’t end with sacks. 

There’s a reason why Jim Schwartz said he isn’t worried. Because if pressure is there, the Eagles have to trust that sacks will come. And the pressure, at least from Barnett, has been there. And there’s more that goes into sacks: How quickly is the QB getting rid of the ball? Are the corners covering? Are the corners playing 10 yards off the line so the QB has an option to release early? Is the offense going max protect?  

It all plays a role and a lot of it has nothing to do with whether or not the lineman gets pressure. 

“You can't judge everything those guys do on the sacks,” Schwartz said. “You have to just judge it as team defense, like I talked about with giving up a big play. It's never one thing.

“Actually I thought our guys rushed well, and I thought they were coming hard. Production will come.”

While Barnett doesn’t have a sack yet this season, he does have six quarterback hits, which ranks him second in the NFL to just Myles Garrett. We’re not comparing the two — Garrett is a truly dynamic player — but Barnett has actually played better early this season than you might think. And that’s after his 2018 season ended on the shelf with a torn rotator cuff. 

So let’s take a look at Barnett’s pressure in the first couple games (starting with the most recent) and the reason Schwartz expects the sacks to come: 

This was the first play from the Atlanta where Barnett really jumped off the tape. It was 3rd-and-15 with 4:29 left in the first quarter. On this play, Matt Ryan completes a quick pass to Devonta Freeman for five yards and the Falcons are forced to punt. 

We heard so much about Barnett’s bend coming out of college, but this is a pure bull rush against left tackle Jake Matthews, a former-first round pick, six-year starter and Pro Bowler last year. 

And Barnett literally lifted the 309-pound offensive tackle off the ground and toward Ryan. Fletcher Cox had a good rush on that play too and got there around the same time. This wasn’t a sack, wasn’t a QB hit, but it was a productive rush from Barnett. Sometimes these things don’t show up on the stat sheet. 

This next play shows just how quick Barnett can be laterally. This was on a 1st-and-10 in the second quarter. Barnett got around Matthews so quickly. Matthews tried a chop block and came up empty. This was Barnett’s first of three QB hits Sunday night. 

This pass was completed for 1 yard, but Barnett shuffled to his right and was barely touched by Matthews. 

This next play comes late in the fourth quarter; that’s good to see. In his second game back from missing the end of last season and slowly ramping up his workload in the summer, Barnett is still putting in good reps with under three minutes left in the fourth. 

On this one, he’s running a stunt with Fletcher Cox. Barnett uses a spin move to get inside. He first sets up Matthews with a step outside before the spin. 

Basically, Barnett clogs up both blockers for a second, which should give Cox enough time to get free coming around the edge. 

Somehow, though, Barnett gets through those two blockers himself and gets a hit on the QB. This was his third QB hit of the game. 

Now, let’s take a closer look from Week 1 and two rushes that were really impressive. 

This first play we’ll look at comes late in the second quarter on 2nd-and-6. Washington left tackle Donald Penn is so concerned about Barnett’s speed and bend around the edge, that Barnett is able to work his inside shoulder and get to Case Keenum in a hurry. Keenum has to rush his throw and it’s incomplete. At the end of the play, Barnett pretty violently tosses Keenum to the ground. 

Here you can see the overset from Penn. He needs to kick out and get wide enough to prevent Barnett from turning the corner, but now he left himself open to the inside rush. And even in his first game back from injury, Barnett has plenty of power. He plants his right foot and drives toward Penn’s inside shoulder. 


Because Penn got too wide in his set, he doesn’t have the leverage to shut down Barnett’s interior power move. Barnett gets to Keenum quickly. 

This last play is a truly great rush from Barnett. It happened with just 23 seconds left in that Washington game. Remember that inside pressure from before? Well, now Penn has to guard against it and Barnett not only knows that; he uses it to his advantage. 

This is basically like Allen Iverson crossing up a defender. 

You’ll see Barnett’s first step was outside, then he sells the inside pass rush and gets Penn’s momentum going that way. With Penn’s momentum working with him, Barnett uses a big-boy club to one-hand throw the 315-pound left tackle out of his way. That man has a family, Derek. 

Aside from his ability as a pass rusher, Barnett is also the type of player this organization loves. He is a plus run defender and hustles on every play, often in pursuit of the quarterback. 

The point of all this isn’t to diminish the importance of sacks. Those are important plays and the Eagles haven’t had an edge player get double digit sacks in a season since Connor Barwin in 2014. They could certainly benefit if Barnett is able to start piling up sacks soon. 

The point here is that I think those sacks will come. Because Barnett is already getting great pressure. And he’s off to a much better start this season than a lot of people probably think. 

Click here to download the MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Flyers, Sixers and Phillies games easily on your device.

More on the Eagles

NFL trade deadline: 8 cornerback targets for Eagles with Jalen Ramsey off the board

NFL trade deadline: 8 cornerback targets for Eagles with Jalen Ramsey off the board

After Eagles fans had hoped for weeks that Howie Roseman would pull the trigger and land Jalen Ramsey, the Pro Bowl cornerback was dealt to the Rams for two first-round picks and a fourth-round pick on Tuesday night. 

We can all debate whether or not the Eagles should have paid that price — and that is a fun debate — but it won’t change anything. Ramsey is off the table and the Eagles have less than two weeks before the trade deadline on Oct. 29. 

Here are several other cornerbacks who might be available in a trade: 

CB Patrick Peterson (Cardinals) 
Peterson is 29, but it somehow feels like he’s been a rumored trade target for the Eagles for about 15 years. The former first-round pick has truly been a great player for a long time. He’s been in the league eight years and is an eight-time Pro Bowler and three-time All-Pro. Peterson missed the first six games of the year because of a suspension for performance-enhancing drugs, but he’s back now and ready to play. The Cardinals have been hesitant to trade him, but they’re 2-3-1 and rebuilding with a rookie quarterback. Peterson has one year left on his deal after this season. The price would be relatively high for him, but maybe the Eagles can get a few years of Peterson at a high level. 

CB Chris Harris Jr. (Broncos) 
Harris is 30 and in the final year of his contract, so he might just be a rental. The Broncos don’t seem eager to trade away players and they have won two straight games (2-4), but they should probably still sell. Harris worked his way from being an undrafted rookie to a four-time Pro Bowler. He’s been at his best as a nickel, but can play outside too. 

CB Xavien Howard (Dolphins) 
I don’t think Miami is going to trade Howard, but I’d at least make a call. He’s still just 26 and had seven interceptions in a Pro Bowl season last year. Howard has a knee injury right now too, which would be another hurdle. And the Dolphins did sign him to a big contract in May, so they seem to view him as a piece for the future. 

CB Desmond Trufant (Falcons) 
The Falcons fooled me again this season. I thought they were going to be good and they stink to the point where they probably should be selling. Trufant is 29 now and under contract for three more seasons. He’s pretty expensive, but he would help and Roseman can figure out the numbers. 

CB Josh Norman (Redskins) 
No, Norman isn’t what he once was with the Panthers, but he’d be an upgrade for the Eagles. There are some reasons not to make this move, though. He’s 31, has a loud personality and a bloated contract with another year on it after this season. But if the compensation is right, it wouldn’t be a horrible idea. 

CB Janoris Jenkins (Giants) 
Not sure how the Giants would feel about trading Jenkins in the division, but the 30-year-old is having a good season with three interceptions in six games. He has one more year under contract after this season with a salary of over $10 million next year, but the Eagles could get out of it or restructure. 

CB Trumaine Johnson (Jets) 
Johnson has a ridiculous salary after signing a five-year, $72.5 million deal last March and the Jets should be eager to dump that off. Heck, they benched him earlier this season. But maybe a change of scenery would do the 29-year-old good. 

CB Artie Burns (Steelers) 
The former first-round pick hasn’t played up to that status and has fallen out of favor in Pittsburgh. He’s also in a contract year, so the Steelers might want to get something for him before he walks as a free agent. It probably wouldn’t take much to get him to Philly. 

If the Eagles don’t trade for a cornerback, there are other positions that would make sense, too. Here are a few names I’d at least call about: EDGE Von Miller (Broncos), EDGE Vic Beasley (Falcons), EDGE Carson Dunlap (Bengals), DT Geno Atkins (Bengals), DT Leonard Williams (Jets), WR Emmanuel Sanders (Broncos), A.J. Green (Bengals), WR DeVante Parker (Dolphins). 

Roseman has pulled off significant moves in each of the last two seasons: for Jay Ajayi in 2017 and for Golden Tate last year. He has less than two weeks to get one done this year. 

Click here to download the MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Flyers, Sixers and Phillies games easily on your device.

More on the Eagles

Doug Pederson on Jalen Ramsey trade: 'I'm happy for the Rams'

Doug Pederson on Jalen Ramsey trade: 'I'm happy for the Rams'

Doug Pederson said Wednesday he’s not disappointed the Eagles did not land Jalen Ramsey, the 24-year-old All-Pro cornerback traded Tuesday from the Jaguars to the Rams.

The Jaguars shipped two first-round picks and a fourth-round pick to the Rams in exchange for Ramsey, who had, according to published reports, been a target of the Eagles since it was clear he was unhappy in Jacksonville and wanted out.

“There’s no disappointment,” Pederson said. “It’s hard to comment on that because he’s obviously not on our team, but we have a lot of respect for him — good player, I’m happy for the Rams, obviously, he’ll be a great addition, they have some corners that are banged up, traded one, so he’ll fit in well there."

The Eagles are 3-3 and coming off an 18-point loss to the Vikings in which they allowed four touchdown passes. They’ve allowed 13 TD passes this year, fifth-most in the league.

Their last Pro Bowl cornerback was Asante Samuel in 2010. They are one of six NFL teams that hasn’t had a single Pro Bowl cornerback over the last eight seasons. The other teams are the Ravens, Steelers, Raiders, Redskins and Rams.

The Eagles have been using 2017 draft picks Rasul Douglas and Sidney Jones as starters. Both struggled Sunday, although Douglas has played fairly well much of the season.

When asked about the Eagles not landing Ramsey, Pederson pointed out that corners Jalen Mills and Ronald Darby, who have started 28 and 22 games in an Eagles uniform, will be back soon.

Mills hasn’t played in a year because of a foot injury and Darby has been out three weeks with a hamstring injury, but both are expected to be at practice on Wednesday. There’s a chance one or both could play against the Cowboys Sunday.

“Listen, we’re getting guys back too on our team, and I’m excited about the guys we have coming back and getting in the mix,” Pederson said. “We’re starting to get healthy as well, so that’s the encouraging part from our side.”

As of now, Douglas, Darby, Jones, Craig James, Orlando Scandrick and Avonte Maddox are on the 53-man roster, and Cre'Von LeBlanc is on Injured Reserve.

There's still 13 days until the NFL trade deadline. 

Click here to download the MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Flyers, Sixers and Phillies games easily on your device.

More on the Eagles