Derek Barnett

A look at Derek Barnett's career, Jason Kelce's future and more in Roob's Random Observations!

A look at Derek Barnett's career, Jason Kelce's future and more in Roob's Random Observations!

A look at Derek Barnett's career so far, a rookie who needs to shine Sunday and Jason Kelce's future in today's edition of Roob's 10 Random Eagles Observations!  

1. Let’s be honest. A loss Sunday would be catastrophic. I don’t want to hear about Saquon this or Daniel Jones that. I believe the Eagles will win. They should win. They better win. If they don’t? Maybe the Cowboys will find a way to lose to the Redskins and the Eagles can back into the playoffs, but if the Eagles do hand the Cowboys the division after beating them head-to-head last weekend that will be a disaster of epic proportions. As banged up as they are, if the Eagles lose with a playoff berth at stake to a 4-11 Giants team with nothing to play for and a rookie quarterback and a coach on the hot seat and the No. 24 offense and No. 23 defense then people deserve to be fired.

2. Amazing that the offense can lose Zach Ertz, DeSean Jackson, Alshon Jeffery, Lane Johnson and Nelson Agholor and I’m still more concerned with the Eagles’ defense going into Sunday. Because I have no idea which defense is going to show up. Seven times the Eagles have allowed 27 or more points. Eight times they’ve allowed 17 or fewer points. Only once have they allowed between 17 and 27, and that was the Falcons Week 2. All or nothing. When they're good, they're really good. When they're bad they're wretched. But here’s a scary notion: The Eagles allowed 16.8 points per game at home, 5th-best in the league. But they’re allowing 29.0 on the road, 4th-WORST. Facing a Giants team that’s scored 77 points in its last two games, that’s not very comforting.  

3. I’ll be shocked if Carson Wentz doesn’t have a huge game Sunday.

4. Derek Barnett always plays hard, gives great effort. And his fumble recovery in the Super Bowl was obviously unforgettable. But all he has to show for his first three seasons is 12 sacks and a bunch of injuries. Mike Mamula had 17 1/2 sacks his first three seasons and Barnett is 5 1/2 back with a game to go. Barnett was the 14th pick in the 2017 draft, and 48 defensive ends have more sacks over the last three years. I never use the “B” word. I don’t think it’s fair to tag a draft pick a bust because you never know what the future holds. Look at Brandon Graham. BUT … it is fair to say that Barnett has been a major disappointment so far.

5. It’s amazing how much better a coach Mike Groh is when guys are actually catching the football.  

6. Greg Ward isn’t technically a rookie, but among undrafted receivers in their first year playing in the NFL, he already has the second-most catches in Eagles history with 22 behind only … Dick Humbert, who caught 29 passes in 1941. All this despite playing in only six games  — only five on offense.

7. The Eagles’ three-game winning streak is the first in franchise history in which they haven’t recorded an interception in any of the games. They’ve faced 141 passes since their last interception  — Ronald Darby on Ryan Fitzpatrick’s first pass of the Miami game. Good for them winning three straight games without an INT, but they could sure use a couple Sunday.

8. He’s 32 years old now. Finishing his 9th NFL season. Has played 131 games. Three-time Pro Bowler, two-time all-pro. Super Bowl champ, Super Bowl parade superstar, all-time great Eagle, future Eagles Hall of Fame lock. Has a baby at home and lots of non-football interests. I can’t imagine not seeing Jason Kelce playing football for the Eagles every Sunday, but I just wonder how much longer he’s going to put his body through what he’s been putting it through for the last decade.

9. One guy the Eagles really need Sunday is J.J. Arcega-Whiteside. I expect Miles Sanders, Dallas Goedert and Greg Ward to do their thing, but the Eagles need more than that. They need some production on the outside, and he’s going to be the only wide receiver in uniform who wasn’t on the practice squad earlier this year. JJAW was a second-round pick, and he needs to play like it Sunday.

10. Whatever happens Sunday, I hope Eagles fans go into this offseason secure in the knowledge that this team has an elite quarterback capable of carrying a team a long, long way. What Wentz has done down the stretch with a collection of rookies, backups and practice squad call-ups has been nothing less than remarkable. Wentz has 3,750 passing yards without a wide receiver over 500 yards, and that’s unprecedented in NFL history. Sanders is a stud, and Ward is a nice complimentary piece, but it’s up to Howie Roseman and his staff to surround Wentz with elite playmakers this offseason. But anybody who is still doubting or questioning Wentz? I just don’t think you’re a true Eagles fan. You can’t be.

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Derek Barnett is tough as nails and he doesn’t want to talk about it

Derek Barnett is tough as nails and he doesn’t want to talk about it

There’s two things you should know about Derek Barnett. He’s quiet and he’s tough as hell. 

Both have been on display recently. 

Barnett doesn’t seek out cameras or recorders. He often tries his hardest to avoid them. During media sessions, he’ll slink to and from his locker, trying to be invisible. He doesn’t want attention and he doesn’t have much to say … to anyone. That usually includes those without microphones too. 

So the 23-year-old found himself in a quandary this week when defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz effusively praised him for his toughness, calling Barnett one of the toughest players he’s ever been around. 

What’s the origin of your toughness? 

“I have no idea. I’m not sure.” 

Have you always been one to play through injuries? 

“I’m not on the injury report.” 

But you were. And you played through an injury in Miami that forced you to miss two weeks. 

“It’s straight now.”

See what I mean? Barnett doesn’t like to talk about himself. But it was unavoidable after Schwartz’s comments. In the second quarter of the Miami game a few weeks ago, Barnett suffered a pretty serious ankle injury and had a pronounced limp as he left the field. Somehow, Barnett finished the game, playing 50 snaps. 

The injury was serious enough for Barnett to miss the next two games. But he returned to action against Dallas with the season on the line and played his normal role.  

Here were Schwartz’s comments about Barnett: 

I can't speak to his toughness because he's one of the toughest players I've ever been around. The fact that he played the second half of that Miami game with that ankle just was really amazing to me — and to play as well as he did.

“I think he's always been a guy that will lay it all on the line. He's not the biggest guy in the world, not the fastest guy in the world, but he is one of the toughest guys in the world, and just brings such a presence when he's on the field.

“It was an inspiration to me to get him back on the field just knowing where he had come from and going through that whole week. We really didn't know how much we were going to be able to get out of him.

To put that into context, Jim Schwartz has been in the NFL in some capacity since 1993. So for 27 years, he’s been around gladiators who have risked it all for their teams and teammates and have played through some pretty serious and painful injuries. Schwartz doesn’t toss around high praise willy-nilly. 

So when Schwartz says Barnett is one of the toughest players he’s ever been around, it’s pretty notable. 

To everyone except Barnett. 

“I still got work (to do),” he said. “I appreciate it. But it’s a word. Keep moving, get back to work. Can’t dwell on it. Somebody says something good, just keep moving. Y’all critique us all the time, keep moving.”

The Eagles took Barnett with the No. 14 pick back in 2017 and he’s been pretty good. He hasn’t blossomed into a top tier pass rusher but he’s a solid player who has been productive at times. The big numbers aren’t there but it’s certainly not for lack of effort. 

Of course, Barnett isn’t the only Eagles player to fight through injuries. Heck, in the last game Zach Ertz came back in with a fractured rib, Jalen Mills returned with a sprained ankle and Fletcher Cox barely missed any time when he took a shot right on his injured triceps. 

“Derek Barnett, he’s a tough dude, man,” Cox said. “He’s a real tough dude. He kind of reminds me of me. It’s real hard to take me out of the game. Obviously, we share a locker together (they’re locker neighbors) and we always talk about just fighting through little things and being there for each other and being brothers. Being able to fight no matter what the circumstances are because you can only enjoy this stuff for so long. You get to go out there and make memories. And then later in life you can talk about the battles and things like that. 

“Me and Derek, we talk about stuff like that, playing banged up. We know how much we mean to this locker room, what we mean to this organization, what we mean to this city.” 

When asked about those talks, Barnett unsurprisingly didn’t have much to say. 

In back-to-back years, Barnett has played through serious injuries. This year was the ankle, last year was a rotator cuff injury that eventually needed surgery. Barnett suffered the injury in Week 4 and came back to battle through two more games before he needed to shut it down and have surgery. 

It’s a mentality and it rubs off on younger players. 

“He kinda pushed that on me too,” Josh Sweat said. “[Barnett] just wants to be on the field at all times. I admire that. I’m the same way. Shoot, if I get something, if ain’t to the point if my leg ain’t broke or something. That’s just how he carries himself. He wants to be on the field at all times to help the team.” 

Barnett on Friday said he’d actually rather receive a criticism than a compliment. Because at least, he said, a criticism could make him better. 

As tough as Barnett is, it’s even tougher to get him to react to praise. 

“I just try to make sure I’m ready to go when it’s time to go,” Barnett said. “It’s the NFL. A lot of guys are probably going through something.”

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Eagles rule out Derek Barnett, Nelson Agholor and Jordan Howard day before Washington game

Eagles rule out Derek Barnett, Nelson Agholor and Jordan Howard day before Washington game

The Eagles on Saturday afternoon have taken some suspense out of the weekend, downgrading Derek Barnett, Nelson Agholor and Jordan Howard to out for Sunday’s game.

All three were initially listed as questionable on Friday.

The only player still questionable going into Sunday’s game in Washington is cornerback Ronald Darby, who popped up on the injury report Friday with a hip flexor injury.

The Eagles have now ruled out a total of four players for the game: Lane Johnson (ankle), Derek Barnett (ankle), Nelson Agholor (ankle) and Jordan Howard (shoulder).

Without Agholor, the Eagles are down to just three healthy receivers on the active roster: J.J. Arcega-Whiteside, Greg Ward Jr. and recent call-up Rob Davis. They have three more on the practice squad but would have to promote of them in the next few hours for them to be eligible to play on Sunday.

The Eagles went into last weekend with three healthy receivers and then Alshon Jeffery went down and even Arcega-Whiteside had to leave the game. They finished with one healthy receiver but apparently haven’t learned their lesson. Expect tight end Josh Perkins to play some at receiver.

This will be Agholor’s third missed game in four weeks. He said earlier this week he has been dealing with a knee injury since the Vikings game in Week 6.

Barnett will miss his second straight game after hurting his ankle in the loss in Miami. Vinny Curry started last week and played well; so did Josh Sweat, who rotated in.

Howard will miss his fifth straight game on Sunday. He suffered a stinger in the Bears game before the bye week and still hasn’t been cleared for contact. The Eagles are keeping him on the roster in hopes that he’ll be able to get cleared before the end of the season but after Sunday, there are just two regular season games remaining and no guarantee of a playoff berth.

Without Johnson, Halapoulivaati Vaitai will start at right tackle and rookie Andre Dillard will be the backup swing tackle.

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