Memorial Day Reading: Barwin’s Bash

Eagles Linebacker Connor Barwin Helmet Off
Hope everyone is enjoying the long weekend.

Some Eagles activity is coming up. The first set of OTAs runs from Tuesday though Thursday this week. We’ll speak with Chip Kelly, and get our first look at the 2014 squad. Plenty to look forward to. For now, a few links to pass along: Read more »

Do DeSean Jackson’s Teammates Want Him Back?

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Before Thursday night, only a couple teammates had voiced their opinions publicly about DeSean Jackson and his future with the team.

Mychal Kendricks backed Jackson during an interview with NFL.com. And Michael Vick, a former teammate of Jackson’s, told a New York TV station that change might be good for the wide receiver.

But as several Eagles strolled in to Todd Herremans’ Hoops 4 Help fundraiser, they knew what the topic of discussion was going to be when approached by a small group of reporters.

None could come up with a clear explanation for why the Eagles would be looking to move Jackson, but the general sentiment seemed to be that they would move forward with whatever decision the organization settled on. Read more »

Three Eagles Numbers That Matter

NFL: Denver Broncos at Oakland Raiders

Here are three free agency-related Eagles numbers that matter.

18 – The number of missed tackles last year for Panthers safety Mike Mitchell, according to Pro Football Focus. That was tied for most among safeties.

As we’ve mentioned in this space, the Eagles are one of the teams that has looked into signing Mitchell. But it seems like many of you would be against the move based solely on the missed tackles number. And that doesn’t make a lot of sense to me. Read more »

Free Agency Preview: Outside Linebackers

NFL: Minnesota Vikings at Dallas Cowboys

It’s no secret that the Eagles are in need of outside linebacker help.

Connor Barwin showcased his versatility last year and is a keeper on the left side. He’s not a prolific pass-rusher, but Barwin is excellent against the run, can line up in a variety of places and is good in coverage.

On the other side, Trent Cole did an admirable job of transitioning to a 3-4 OLB. But he’ll turn 32 next season and is still a bit of a square peg/round hole option. And the coaching staff saw Brandon Graham as purely a rotational player last season.

It’s possible that the Eagles go into 2014 with those same three rotating, but the better bet is that they add a piece either through free agency or the draft.

Keeping that in mind, here are four guys who will be on the market when free agency starts Tuesday. The two biggest names – Brian Orakpo and Jason Worilds - are staying with the Redskins and Steelers, respectively. So this is a watered-down group. Read more »

Wake-Up Call: ‘We Don’t Want To Force Anything’

NFL: Combine

When it comes to adding new pieces, NFL personnel people often fear the unknown.

The condition usually stems from past mistakes: wasting money on a player who didn’t fit, reaching on a draft pick who failed to pan out, etc.

The draft requires the most challenging projections. But free agency, in theory, should be easier. Coaches and GMs can watch as much tape as they want of the players going up against pro-level competition; they can talk to guys who have coached or played alongside the free agent; and they should be able to get a decent idea of how they’re spending their money.

But, as Howie Roseman often points out, it’s still an arranged marriage. Until the player and team are living under the same roof and get to know each other up close and personal, there is a degree of uncertainty.

That’s one of the reasons the organization has been sending out signals for weeks indicating it’s not going to make a big splash in free agency. In some ways, Roseman sounds a bit gun-shy after what happened in the summer of 2011. Read more »

Eagles Wake-Up Call: On Barwin’s Role

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Connor Barwin was not among the first wave of new players the Eagles signed last offseason.

On the first day of free agency, the team added five new players, three of whom ended up starting games on defense (Isaac Sopoaga, Bradley Fletcher and Patrick Chung).

But with Barwin, the Eagles waited to see how the market played out. They had him on their list, but Howie Roseman wasn’t sure what the demand would be for the outside linebacker. Barwin followed up an 11.5-sack season in 2011 with just three sacks in 2012. Clearly, teams were not convinced he was an elite pass-rusher, and so the Eagles saw a chance to pounce, signing the 26-year-old to a deal that included $8 million in guaranteed money.

Barwin ended up being one of the Eagles’ best free-agent acquisitions. He provided leadership, energy and was by all accounts a great teammate. In terms of production, he was arguably the Eagles’ most consistent defender. Read more »

Offseason Outlook: Outside Linebackers

Trent Cole had one sack in the Eagles’ first 10 games. He has seven in the last five, including three against the Bears.

This week, we’ll continue to offer offseason outlooks for the Eagles, position-by-position. Each day, we’ll answer a pressing question and rank the position on the priority scale. First up was quarterback. We covered running backswide receiverstight endsoffensive line and defensive line. Now let’s talk outside linebackers.

PRESSING QUESTION: Will there be a new starter on the outside in 2014?

McManus: I will say no, at least to start the year.

Connor Barwin may not be an elite pass-rusher but there is great value in his versatility. I think his starting job is secure. Trent Cole‘s spot really is the one to focus on. Cole is extremely well-respected within the organization and was regularly lauded by Chip Kelly and Billy Davis during the season, both noting that the numbers don’t tell the whole story when it comes to Cole’s impact on the game. And the numbers weren’t bad. Despite playing OLB for the first time in his nine-year career, he finished with eight sacks, 15 hurries and 10 tackles for a loss.

Still, Cole is 31, his pass-rushing production wasn’t consistent and the Eagles absolutely need to bolster this position. Brandon Graham contributed three sacks this season, but it’s still questionable whether he’s a fit for this team. Read more »

Three Eagles Leftovers

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From Connor Barwin’s role to Chip Kelly’s love for DeMeco Ryans to Cary Williams’ future, here are three Eagles leftovers.

1. The Eagles’ two outside linebacker positions were not created equal in 2013. Trent Cole made the transition from defensive end, usually lining up on the right side. Barwin’s spot was labeled the “jack” by Billy Davis, as in jack of all trades. That meant Barwin usually lined up on the left side and dropped back into coverage far more often than Cole.

According to Pro Football Focus, Barwin dropped 42.3 percent of the time on passing downs and rushed the QB 57.7 percent of the time.

“I can do it so it fits my skill set and I’m fine with it,” Barwin said last week. “Whatever way Billy [Davis] wants to use me. And I’m sure, who knows how it’ll evolve next year? I could see myself being in a similar role or I could see it being different. It just matters how this defensive evolves, what happens. But I don’t mind at all. I think it makes our defense better. I think Billy did a great job of utilizing the talent that we had.” Read more »

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