Eagles see no malicious intent, but Derek Barnett needs to walk fine line

Eagles see no malicious intent, but Derek Barnett needs to walk fine line

After Thursday night’s game in Green Bay, Derek Barnett told reporters he wasn’t trying to make a dirty play. He wasn’t trying to injure Packers running back Jamaal Williams. 

The Eagles say they believe him. 

“Derek’s the type of guy who is going to play through the whistle,” Eagles DL coach Phillip Daniels said. “And I thought on that situation right there, that he was playing through the whistle. It’s hard to hear out there on that field sometimes. I just told him to be smart. At the same time, I don’t think he’s the kind of guy that goes out there to try to hurt anybody. He’s just doing his job and playing through the whistle.”

Playing through the whistle is one thing, but Barnett has to be careful not to earn a reputation. If the Eagles are to be believed, he shouldn’t have anything to worry about. 

“I know the first play, Derek is running to the football on a pass play,” defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz said. “We put a lot of emphasis on guys running to the football, and he's going in trying to get the ball out. He's trying to get a fumble. He's not targeting anyone. He's going in trying to get the football. We want guys hustling. We want guys trying to get that.”

Some thought Barnett deserved to be ejected from the game, but he wasn’t. He stayed in and even had a huge strip sack later in the evening. And, according to ESPN, Barnett is not expected to be suspended for the hit. But you can bet a fine is coming his way. 

While Barnett didn’t necessarily lead with the crown of his helmet, this was clearly a helmet-to-helmet hit. And there’s really no place for it. 

Last season, Barnett had just two penalties — both offside calls — in six games. 

But through four games in 2019, Barnett has been penalized five times for 40 yards. Just five players in the league have been flagged more. And two of Barnett’s penalties have been for unnecessary roughness — one on Thursday and one on this blindside block (all the way left on your screen) following an interception in Week 2. 

One of the things the Eagles love about Barnett is his relentless motor. He rallies to every ballcarrier. On Thursday, that meant putting a hit on Williams just after the whistle sounded. Based on the TV broadcast, it seemed like Barnett had begun to initiate the hit as the whistle blew. Still, it was a scary and unnecessary hit that landed Williams in the hospital. 

The good news is that Williams will be OK. He has a concussion but avoided what could have been a truly devastating injury. For what it’s worth, Barnett apologized to Williams as he was being stretchered off the field. If you take no solace in that, I understand, but Barnett isn’t known for being a dirty player. At least not yet. 

“I tell him not to slow down,” Eagles defensive captain Malcolm Jenkins said. “I think the one thing that makes Derek special is he plays every play with one speed and that’s full speed. That’s how you’re supposed to play the game. Some things happen in this game. It’s a violent sport. I just tell him don’t change anything about his game.” 

Barnett has played 206 snaps this season (he has played well, by the way), so to look at two of them and worry about his gaining reputation might seem premature. But because of Barnett’s playing style, he’s going to be rallying to ballcarriers late and he’s always going to play through the whistle. That’s who he is and that’s a good thing. 

Barnett just needs to be careful. 

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A lost opportunity for Sidney Jones in Roob's 10 Observations

A lost opportunity for Sidney Jones in Roob's 10 Observations

A lost opportunity for Sidney Jones, an unbelievable Sam Bradford stat and the continuing saga of Reb Russell.

It's all right here in this weekend's Roob's 10 Eagles Observations! 

1. I keep trying to convince myself, "This will be the year we see the real Sidney Jones." And coming out of last year, I really believed Jones, going into Year 4, had a chance to really get his legs healthy this spring and then show everybody in minicamps, OTAs, training camp and the preseason games that he could hold down the CB2 opposite Darius Slay. But if the curtailed offseason and preseason hurts anybody the most, it's Jones. The Eagles have made it clear Avonte Maddox is the projected starter, and as long Maddox stays healthy I don't see how Sidney can win the job. Without any spring workouts or preseason games? Can Jones do enough just in a few weeks of training camp practice to beat out Maddox? I don't think so.

2. Who has the highest 4th-quarter passer rating among Eagles quarterbacks? Going back to 1994, as far back as the Pro Football Reference database logs quarter-by-quarter stats, here's the surprising answer (minimum of 100 4th-quarter attempts):

95.9 ... Sam Bradford

88.4 ... Michael Vick

84.5 ... Carson Wentz

83.6 ... Donovan McNabb

81.9 ... Nick Foles

76.9 ... Rodney Peele

76.7 ... Mark Sanchez

70.3 ... Ty Detmer

64.1 ... Bobby Hoying

62.7 ... Randall Cunningham

59.0 ... Koy Detmer 

(Remember, this only includes Randall's last two years with the Eagles) 

3. As good as T.O. was in 2004, he was on his way to an even bigger season in 2005 before he imploded and got himself suspended. Owens was 47-for-763 with 6 TDs after seven games, which put him on pace for 107 catches and 1,744 yards with 13 TDs. The only players in NFL history to reach those plateaus in a season are Jerry Rice and Isaac Bruce. T.O.'s 93.5 yards per game as an Eagle is 23 yards per game more than any other WR in franchise history. DeSean Jackson (69.7), Mike Quick (64.0), Irving Fryar (63.9) and Jeremy Maclin (63.6) are next.

4. If the NFL does wind up reducing rosters from 90 to 75 because of the curtailed or eliminated preseason and for social distancing purposes, the league needs to give each team the opportunity to retain the rights of some or all of the players they're forced to release. Maybe pay them a weekly reduced salary and let them participate in virtual meetings and remain part of the team without actually being at practice. It would be a shame to see the Eagles forced to cut ties with promising kids like Adrian Killians Jr., Grayland Arnold, Raequan Williams, Mike Warren, Sua Opeta or Deontay Burnett because of the current circumstances. The league and the NFLPA need to find a way to make sure that doesn't happen.

5. I just remembered the Eagles paid Nelson Agholor $9.387 million last year.

6. The Frankford Yellow Jackets won the 1926 NFL Championship, but by the early 1930s, they may have been the worst professional sports team in Philadelphia history. They won only 3 of their last 24 games and scored 7 or fewer points in 20 of those 24 games. 

7. What are the odds that the Eagles' two recent Hall of Famers — Brian Dawkins and Harold Carmichael — went to the same high school? Both graduated from Raines High in Jacksonville. Raines has produced numerous other NFL players, including Lito Sheppard, Shawn Jefferson and Ken Burrough, along with baseball's Vince Coleman. Surprisingly, 16 high schools produced multiple Hall of Famers, including one — George Washington in L.A. — that produced three (James Lofton, Hugh McElhenny, Bill Walsh). 

8. Carson Wentz's 32 wins are 15th-most in NFL history by a quarterback in his first four seasons. He's also one of only five of the top 20 that didn't win a playoff game during those four years. The others are Matt Ryan, Andy Dalton, Steve Grogan, Peyton Manning and Carson Palmer. Ryan won one in his 5th season, Manning in his 6th and Palmer in his 14th. Dalton and Grogan never did win one. One of these years, Wentz will win one. Right?

9. Donovan McNabb had already won four playoff games and reached two NFC Championship Games by the end of his fourth season.

10. Everyone seemed to enjoy last week's excerpt from newspaper coverage of the Eagles' first game in franchise history in 1933, so here's an excerpt from the Inquirer story reporting the first win in franchise history, 6-0 over the Reds later in 1933: 

"Tall, slab-sided, loose-limbed Swede Hanson, the new Galloping Ghost of the commercial gridiron, raced over the last white stripe today, as the Philadelphia Eagles achieved their first conquest of the season, 6-0. Hanson, lean and lank and lantern jawed, was the hero of this game, as he has starred in all of the frays in which the Eagles have been a part. For two periods, the Birds and their Red foes battered away at the line or sought the air but all in vain. In the third quarter, however, the Wraymen turned into a devastating horde." 

The story goes on to describe Hanson's touchdown, the game's only score: 

"It was fourth down now and the goal line beckoning in tantalizing fashion straight ahead. Then Hanson and (Reb) Russell outwtitted their foes. Reb came tearing in as if to shoot off tackle. The Reds tumbled through upon the former Purple hero, however, who was ready for this emergency. As the gang tried to pile up, Russell flipped a lateral, straight and unerring, right into Hanson's arms. Like a flash, the Swede lighted out for the end, slipped past two tackles and went over the line."

Wraymen? Really? Remember, that team's coach was Lud Wray. Guess I should start calling the Eagles the Dougmen?

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Report: NFLPA board unanimously recommends to cancel entire preseason 

Report: NFLPA board unanimously recommends to cancel entire preseason 

Just two days after we learned the NFL’s plan to cut the 2020 preseason in half, the NFL Players Association is reportedly recommending that the league cancel the entire preseason. 

The NFLPA’s board of representatives voted unanimously on the recommendation, according to ESPN. 

On Wednesday, ProFootballTalk reported that the NFL was cutting the preseason in half because of the coronavirus pandemic, keeping Weeks 2 and 3 but eliminating Weeks 1 and 4. Other reports indicated that those preseason games would be pushed back later into August. 

If the Eagles end up playing the original Weeks 2 and 3 of their preseason schedule, they will face the Dolphins on the road and the Patriots at home. They were originally scheduled to be at Indianapolis in Week 1 and at home against the Jets in Week 4, but those games have already been canceled. 

The NFL is still planning for training camps to begin on July 28 with rookies and select vets allowed to report earlier. 

Eagles head coach Doug Pederson said earlier this offseason that his team will need the entire five-to-six-week training camp to get ready for the 2020 season, especially after missing the entire spring workout schedule because of the pandemic. 

The Eagles are scheduled to begin their 2020 regular season in Washington on Sept. 13. 

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