Connor Barwin Addresses Drop In Production

The stats may be deceiving when it comes to newly-acquired outside linebacker Connor Barwin.

The former Texan racked up 11 1/2 sacks in 2011, then saw that number dip to three this past season.

Meeting with local reporters for the first time Friday, Barwin filled in some of the blanks.

“I played opposite of Mario Williams two years ago, and then he got hurt and I took over Mario’s spot and played the open side outside linebacker and had a lot of success there,” he said. “Last year because of injuries we had at linebacker I bounced back and forth and played both positions and kind of had to move around. The sack numbers weren’t there but the pressures and the hits were all there and the tackles were more from the year before.”

On the open side, the outside linebacker was asked to rush the passer almost exclusively, whereas there are more coverage responsibilities at SAM. And according to Barwin, Houston linebackers had to change their overall approach in 2012.

“We had to drop more, we had problems at inside linebacker, we had to cover up certain things on the outside,” he said. “The year before we rushed every time. Last year we had to bump the tight end before we could rush, and anyone that rushes the passer knows that’s going to slow down your rush.”

The Eagles’ hope is that he’ll get back to his quarterback-sacking ways this year. It remains unclear exactly what role he will play in this scheme, but has the ability to play on either side. Regardless, the main priority will be getting after the passer.

Many are wondering how the pieces will fit, given that Barwin, Trent Cole, Brandon Graham and Vinny Curry all project to be outside linebackers under Billy Davis.

“I haven’t delved too much into the roster but I know Trent’s here and Brandon Graham. In any defense, especially with the way the game is going now, you need to be able to rotate at the defensive line and linebacker position to keep things fresh,” said Barwin. “I don’t exactly how it’s going to work out but I know you need a lot more than two guys to do it.”

Barwin adds to the growing number of Cincinnati Bearcats on this roster, and was actually Brent Celek‘s backup at tight end his first two years.

“Let me emphasize that I had a couple starts my sophomore year and I was coming for his spot, but he left for the NFL before I could take it,” said Barwin, drawing laughs.

The coaching staff saw a need at defensive end and flipped the 6-4, 268-pounder to the other side of the ball. He would remain at end through his first two seasons with the Texans before being moved to outside linebacker. He has proven to be versatile, which is exactly the kind of player Chip Kelly likes.