Eagles Wake-Up Call: Jim Schwartz Looking To Decrease Connor Barwin’s Snaps
Just by looking at the stat sheet, one probably couldn’t tell Connor Barwin has played the most snaps of any Eagles defensive lineman this season.
The 30-year-old has only recorded one sack and four solo tackles despite being in on 236 plays. That’s essentially a game’s worth of production spread over five starts. By contrast, fellow Eagles starting defensive end Brandon Graham has been responsible for three sacks, 14 tackles, one forced fumble, and one fumble recovery in one less snap played.
Barwin, who hasn’t logged a sack since Week 1, was part of an Eagles pass rush that failed to get adequate pressure in Philadelphia’s Week 6 loss to Washington. The Birds didn’t sack Kirk Cousins once and only hit him two times.
Due to his lack of production, the Eagles could be looking to take away some of Barwin’s playing time.
“I think he played, like a lot of our other guys, didn’t play his best game this last game,” said Eagles defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz. “He’s a guy that can probably benefit from lesser reps and have maybe more production with lesser reps, we’ve been talking about that.”
“It’s just tough in game situations when you’re not doing well, everybody starts pressing and you start trying to do too much. Maybe that includes playing too many reps. Connor is a good player when he’s fresh and going, and he’s no different than the rest of our guys that way. But I don’t think, we’re not disappointed in him.”
When asked about Schwartz’s comments, Barwin said the Eagles’ coaching staff hasn’t spoken to him about a decrease in snaps. He did admit he sees where Schwartz is coming from, however.
“I watched the tape and I definitely had some snaps that were uncharacteristic. I think those are probably fatigue,” Barwin admitted. “So I think that probably makes sense.”
“I like playing as much as possible, and I’ve played a lot of snaps my whole career. But I think I understand what coach is saying because if you look at the game last week, it looked like I had worn down. And I was going against a good player and a good offense, but I think maybe there were some snaps I didn’t look like myself and it might have just been I wasn’t fresh or I wasn’t as fresh as I normally am.”
In fairness to Barwin, he did have a tough matchup last Sunday. Washington blocker Trent Williams is one of the best offensive tackles in the league. But one sack and four tackles through five games just isn’t ideal production for a player who has the second highest cap number on the team.
Barwin downplayed the notion that his struggles are related to his position change from 3-4 outside linebacker to 4-3 defensive end.
“I think it’s still pretty much the same thing except you’re not dropping as much,” said Barwin. “I’ve gone four weeks without getting a sack as an outside backer many times in my career. This isn’t the first time I’ve done it as a d-end either. These things happen. But obviously I’ve got to get back on track this week and I’m excited to get to Sunday and start playing well again.”
Perhaps Barwin could be fresher and more effective if his snaps are limited moving forward. But it’s also possible his best days are just behind him. The eight-year NFL veteran is very expendable. After this season is over, the Eagles can either cut or trade Barwin for a cap savings of $7.75 million with only $600,000 in dead money. This year could mark his last with the Birds.
In the meantime, the Eagles looking to decrease Barwin’s snaps could mean more playing time for Vinny Curry. Last week Schwartz talked about how the Birds are looking to get Curry more involved. This week, Schwartz was asked about Curry getting more playing time with Barwin expected to see a decreased role.
“Yeah, I just think in the Detroit game, I think he played 18 [snaps],” started Schwartz. “It just wasn’t enough. We didn’t get a lot of chances to rush him inside and some of those drives were long and it was harder to get substitutions and different packages. Every game is going to be different as far as number of reps that guys play but just as a general rule, it wasn’t just Vinny. It was Beau [Allen], we needed to play those guys a little bit more.”
“He certainly played a lot more in this last game. He’s one of our better players. He’s going to have to be productive and we have to find a way to get those guys on the field.”
When taking blame for the Eagles’ defensive struggles against Washington, Schwartz noted how the Eagles need more production from their defensive line. “Our front four has to carry us,” he said. Making a change to the defensive end rotation might help the Eagles’ defense improve. It’s at least a move worth exploring as Schwartz looks to get his unit back on track.
The Birds have a big test this week as Sam Bradford and the undefeated Minnesota Vikings come to town. If the Eagles fail to pressure Bradford like they failed to pressure Cousins, Philadelphia’s defensive struggles are likely to continue. Bradford is playing well and the Eagles will need to find a way to stymie him.
WHAT YOU MISSED
“There was a reason it looked so bad and it was because we were so bad.” Jim Schwartz blames himself for the recent struggles on defense.
Take a look at our Week 7 predictions for this week’s games.
“That’s the great thing about Carson [Wentz] is how well he is able to just remember something, fix it, move on and then not do that again.” Carson Wentz continues to show potential, even after a bad game against the Redskins.
WHAT THEY’RE SAYING
After big paydays in the offseason, Zach Ertz and Vinny Curry aren’t performing to expectations on the field, pens Jeff McLane of the Inquirer.
But Curry (five years, $46.25 million) and Ertz (five years, $42.5 million), more than the other two, were handed contracts based on projections than on how they had performed to that point. It’s early in the season – and certainly early into their deals – but did Eagles executive Howie Roseman overvalue players he drafted who appeared to be misused under Chip Kelly?
Ertz’s production, along with his playing time, increased in each of his first three seasons, but there was always this feeling that the Eagles weren’t capitalizing on all of his skills. Will this be the year Ertz breaks out? was a repeat narrative over the last three offseasons.
The 25-year-old caught six passes for 58 yards in the opener, but he had only four catches (on six targets) for 59 yards in the two games after he returned from a displaced rib.
“I can’t control if I’m the first read or the fourth read in the progression,” Ertz said Thursday. “I’ve just got to go out there and try to make plays when I get the opportunity. Get open like I think I’ve done the last few weeks.”
Ertz has yet to catch a touchdown pass. Carson Wentz threw him a pass inside the 5-yard line on Sunday – albeit slightly high and hot – but it sailed through his hands.
Are the Eagles looking to get Bryce Treggs more involved on offense? The rookie receiver is taking more reps in practice, writes CSN Philly’s Reuben Frank.
Speedy Eagles receiver Bryce Treggs, who hasn’t yet been active for a game, could be soon.
Treggs said after practice Thursday he got more reps with the first-team offense this week than he has all year.
“Way more,” Treggs said. “I feel like they’re comfortable with me now, where they don’t have to tell me what to do. I know the plays and I know where to be.”
Does that mean Treggs will make his NFL debut against the Vikings Sunday? Not necessarily. But it does mean he’s at least on the Eagles’ radar.
Doug Pederson addresses the media before Sunday’s game against the Vikings.
Chris Jastrzembski contributed to this post.