Connor Barwin the DE

Posted: June 25th, 2016 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 37 Comments »

Some people continue to question why Connor Barwin is playing DE in the new scheme. He is a talented, versatile athlete who would make a lot of sense at SAM. And that’s just where the Eagles might have used him 15 years ago. Football has changed and the SAM position is the defensive equivalent of Fullback. With all the 3-WR sets, something has to give. FB is the spot on offense and SAM on defense.

Barwin is a good player. You want him on the field. Putting him at SAM would be a waste in this defense. You could play him there in some downs and then at DE in others, but that’s not ideal. You have him reporting to a pair of position coaches at that point and trying to do a lot of different things on gameday. The beauty of what Jim Schwartz does is that he tries to keep things simple. He wants LBs to be LBs and DL to be DL.

Schwartz has a group of DEs that now have LB experience. Brandon Graham, Barwin and even Marcus Smith can be used to drop into coverage on the occasional zone blitz. They can do a reasonable job in coverage for the odd play here and there. For the most part, they’ll just be attacking off the edge.

The key to Schwartz’s defense is the DL. He needs a minimum of 5 or 6 legitimately good players up front. The Eagles had Vinny Curry, Graham, Fletcher Cox and Bennie Logan. Add in Barwin and you’ve got 5 good DL. The hope is that one or two more will emerge from Marcus Smith, Mike Martin, Taylor Hart, Destiny Vaeao, Beau Allen, Alex McAllister and the rest of the backups. Barwin has real value as a DL in this scheme.

I wonder if Schwartz sees Barwin and is reminded of one of his favorite former players, Kyle Vanden Bosch. Here is a cool story on how Schwartz recruited Vanden Bosch to sign with the Lions.

For a football team that has been left standing out in the cold for the past decade or so, Detroit Lions coach Jim Schwartz was taking quite a chance standing in a driveway at 11 p.m. on a chilly Thursday night.

Schwartz was in Tennessee, visiting the home of former Titans’ defensive end Kyle Vanden Bosch, the Lions’ primary target in free agency.

Because NFL rules stipulate a team can’t make contact with players until midnight, Schwartz flew down to Nashville and drove to Vanden Bosch’s house without the player’s knowledge.

“I was shocked,” Vanden Bosch said. “I was kind of gearing up all day, waiting for 11 o’clock (Central time) and wondering what was going to happen.

“Coach Schwartz called me at 11:01 p.m. and said ‘I’m a block from your house, can you give me a minute?’ He said, ‘I could be anywhere (in the country) right now, but I’m coming to talk to you because you’re the guy I want.’ That meant a lot to me and set the tone for getting the deal done this morning.”

And here is a bit more on them.

Three years later Vanden Bosch, Schwartz and the Lions pulled off a 10-6 season and advanced to the playoffs as an NFC Wild Card team.

“Having played for coach Schwartz in Tennessee I knew what he was capable of,” said Vanden Bosch. “He’s not only a great X’s and O’s guy. He relates well to players. He motivates players. He challenges the leaders of the team and gives them a lot of responsibility. I knew he was the right man for that challenge and I was honored that he picked me to be part of that turnaround.”

Schwartz was the defensive coordinator in Tennessee when they signed Vanden Bosch back in 2005. Vanden Bosch had 35.5 sacks and 12 FFs in the 4 years that he played DE for Schwartz with the Titans. When Schwartz took over the awful Lions, he knew he needed help on and off the field. That’s why he went so hard after Vanden Bosch as a free agent in 2010.

Vanden Bosch was a good DE. He was an incredibly hard worker on and off the field. He made a ton of hustle plays in his career. And he worked extremely hard in the weight room and on the practice field to make the most of his ability. Vanden Bosch did his part to help the community. He was a strong leader that other players respected.

Does any of that sound familiar?

Vanden Bosch was 6-4, 278 at one point in his career. I’m not sure he kept on all that weight. Barwin was 6-4, 256 when he came into the league. I’m guessing he’s still in that same range. Maybe he will bulk up in the 260-pound range this year. I think Vanden Bosch is the better pure pass rusher and is a bit quicker off the ball, but Barwin is more versatile and a better overall athlete.

Vanden Bosch strip sack

Barwin isn’t an explosive pass rusher. He does have good quickness, but he is at his best when using his strength to get blockers off balance. That’s when you see those highlight plays were Barwin tosses OL around.

That video is exactly what Schwartz wants. The two DEs drive their blockers back into the QB and the DTs are there in the middle so the QB has nowhere to go but down. 

Barwin had 14.5 sacks in 2014. That is an anomaly. He isn’t a dominant pass rusher. That year Barwin happened to be the right guy at the right time on several plays that boosted his sack total. I do think Barwin can be an 8-sack guy in Schwartz’s scheme. The Wide 9 loves pass rushers who have a good combination of speed, quickness and strength. And guys with high motors are more likely to flourish. You don’t need a ton of pass rush moves. You don’t need an elite burst. The angles of the alignment give the pass rusher some favorable situations.

I think some people are underrating Barwin as a pass rusher. He does have some skills and good athleticism. He’s also smart.

Keep in mind that Barwin was doing this while spending at least half of his time focusing on how to play LB. This year he will strictly be working with the DL coach, focusing on details of how to be the best pass rusher he can. Sometimes the little things can be the difference between hitting the QB and just getting some pressure. DL coach Chris Wilson has a lot to work with in Barwin.

And the Wide 9 just might fit Barwin better than many realize. How about one more shot of him out wide and then knocking the crap out of a blocker?

So much fun to watch.


37 Comments on “Connor Barwin the DE”

  1. 1 Connor Barwin the DE - said at 12:49 PM on June 25th, 2016:

    […] Tommy Lawlor Some people continue to question why Connor Barwin is playing DE in the new scheme. He is a […]

  2. 2 ICDogg said at 12:59 PM on June 25th, 2016:

    I think the Eagles will surprise the league with better than expected defense. So far, though, the offense looks like a mess.

  3. 3 Ben said at 1:35 PM on June 25th, 2016:

    I think giving Sam the ability to audible, the upgraded O line and another year removed from those devastating knee injuries that he might play better than most of us expect.
    I guess you are basing your opinion on the level of talent or the level of talent we have seen perform in Chips system.
    Who knows, maybe having two ex QB’s in Pederson and Reich designing plays could translate into a more efficient and successful offense.
    Randle and Givens are upgrades over Coop and Austin so it’s not like we haven’t upgraded. I know that’s not a huge upgrade, but an upgrade nevertheless.

  4. 4 wee2424 said at 5:30 PM on June 25th, 2016:

    The offense will be an improvement from last years. How much? That will be determined. I do expect to see better play calling, more diverse play calling, a more efficient run game, better interior OL play, better WR play, and players being used accordingly to their strengths. Drops cant be as bad. I think it is safe to assume that you will see somewhst better play by Bradford.

    All of that can go a long way.

  5. 5 P_P_K said at 8:55 PM on June 25th, 2016:

    It can go a long way to winning the crappy NFC East, especially if the D is outstanding.

  6. 6 wee2424 said at 9:44 PM on June 25th, 2016:

    My thinking exactly. Many people keep saying that it is a slim chance we get to the play offs. I couldn’t disagree with that more. All we have to do is win a very week NFCE.

    How good this team will be is a mystery, however I feel very comfortable saying that we will be much better then last year. The only unit on this team that may decline is ST, but we still do have a very good ST coach and core ST members with some young athletic guys added that should be good in that role.

  7. 7 P_P_K said at 9:22 AM on June 26th, 2016:

    I’m very optimistic that Scwartz can take the D to a high level and success will follow. How much success will be determined by how the O and ST play.

  8. 8 wee2424 said at 4:58 PM on June 26th, 2016:

    ST will probably decline somewhat. They have played at an insane level the past 2 years, and that is very hard to do year in and year out. Add to the fact that there is now less emphasis placed on ST under Pederson. They still do have Flipp though. While there will be a decrease in level of play on ST I still think they we will be one of the better units in the NFL.

    D doesn’t even need to be discussed. We all know they will be better.

    It is a mystery as to how much better off the O will be. There are some areas in which you can assume will approve, but again by how much is the big question.

    * Better interior OL play
    *More efficient run game
    *Much more diverse play book with QB able to make audibles
    *Players being used accordingly to their strengths
    *Some if even minimal improvement from Bradford
    *Better WR play (just can’t have as many drops as last year)
    *RBs being used in the passing game in more efficient manner (not just wheel routes)
    *Ertz deservedly being more of a focal point in this O
    *Burton possibly being used more
    *A return to the screen game

  9. 9 P_P_K said at 6:19 PM on June 26th, 2016:

    When I think about the Eagles D and what I believe Schwartz will accomplish with them, I feel very optmistic about this season. When I think about the O, the items you list crop up and there’s just so many movng parts and question marks that it’s hard to know what to think. Things could go a lot of different ways.

    *Bradford stays healthy and plays at a good level.
    *The WRs take a developmental step and quit the drops.
    *The RBs are played to their strengths.
    *Two TE sets, give Ertz a chance to shine.

  10. 10 bsuperfi said at 11:34 PM on June 25th, 2016:

    The d has a chance to be a premier unit. The offense’s ceiling is probably around average in the league with present personnel.

    The d line just has such potential in this scheme. I could see Barwin, curry, and/or graham, hitting 10 sacks. Logan is being hyped, though I’m waiting to see what he shows. And cox is obviously primed. Maybe we’ll see kendricks blitz a little more, which I think he can do. And IF hicks is healthy, he just needs to be free to clean up the trash and make plays when they’re there. And then there are our safeties.

    It’s talent at all three levels with the concentration of talent on the line–just where you want it in this scheme.

    Kinda reminds me of the days when mcnabb was rising but had crappy receivers and a trusty tight end. All the while, pressure was taken off his back with JJs defense, which had great players left over from the Rhodes era. The parallels are really uncanny.

  11. 11 meteorologist said at 12:22 PM on June 26th, 2016:

    I really think that’s something Roseman is using as a model. This year will be like McNabb’s rookie year then hopefully we can compete in the following years like we did with McNabb

  12. 12 Ben said at 1:20 PM on June 25th, 2016:

    Tommy must be a mind reader. I was wondering if he was going to weigh in on Barwin and his potential in this D.
    I feel the same in that Barwin projects to be a solid 4-3 attacking DE.
    I’m not saying he’s the second coming of Reggie but he can be above average at worst in this scheme.
    I was reading the comments yesterday where someone predicted a 50+ sack total for this D line and thought that was a bit high, but after some more thought I can see that as a possibility that is not too crazy to imagine.
    In order for that to happen, players like Smith, Martin or even Allen would need to contribute but that amount is very possible IMO.
    Graham gets 15, Barwin 12, Curry 16, and that leaves 7 between those remaining three defenders.

  13. 13 Answingo said at 3:00 PM on June 25th, 2016:

    You’re forgetting cox

  14. 14 Ben said at 7:09 PM on June 25th, 2016:

    OMG….and Logan….okay sixty sacks is possible !!!

  15. 15 SteveH said at 1:58 PM on June 25th, 2016:

    MS2, that’s the secret weapon.

  16. 16 wee2424 said at 4:55 PM on June 25th, 2016:

    Sounds like a Spanish gang name.

  17. 17 Cafone said at 1:07 AM on June 26th, 2016:

    hidden on the inactive list

  18. 18 SteveH said at 11:13 AM on June 26th, 2016:

    That’s why he’s secret no one ever sees him.

  19. 19 Charlie Kelly said at 3:31 PM on June 25th, 2016:

    what i like about barwin is, even if he doesnt get the QB he still has the ability to get a deflected pass.

  20. 20 Aaron said at 9:01 PM on June 25th, 2016:


  21. 21 bushisamoron said at 10:54 PM on June 25th, 2016:

    Pressure up the middle is so important. Disrupts the QB quickly and he takes a big hit.

  22. 22 Cafone said at 1:06 AM on June 26th, 2016:

    It occurs to me that we are putting considerable faith in the idea that last season’s offense was too simple while the defense was too complicated and switching that up will put everything back in order again. Works for me.

  23. 23 P_P_K said at 10:13 AM on June 26th, 2016:

    Me, too.

  24. 24 Tumtum said at 10:37 AM on June 26th, 2016:

    Thats not the way I view it. The offense failed, really as Chip said, due to execution. The simplicity of the offense made execution even more important. The play calling and tempo of the offense is what I attribute to the defense more than anything else. Injuries? Played too much. Extreme fall off in production? Too many snaps. Redzone struggles? Gave them too many tries because offense never had the ball. I can go on.

    The QB is the other issue. That doesnt change, but he is further removed from serious injury and can be better.

    I bemoaned ao many times last season that Chip needed to play to his defense before he ruined them. He didnt and he ruined them. This year we will not only play to the D the scheme is built to win, not just prevent loss.

  25. 25 BlindChow said at 12:48 PM on June 26th, 2016:

    I’ve never bought the “tempo” excuse for the defense at all…

    They played six extra snaps per game. Their performance didn’t slowly fall off as the year went on (which would be indicative of fatigue); it suddenly and monumentally collapsed against two bad teams in the middle of the year. Additionally, they were often bad right from the start of games–Atlanta, for example, the first game of the season–which should have been long before they got worn out.

    It would’ve been interesting if someone like EaglesRewind or ChipWagon had actually done a closer analysis of why the defense failed so bad, but I think people have been too quick to absolve them based on the pace of the offense.

  26. 26 eagleyankfan said at 7:42 AM on June 27th, 2016:

    “I’ve never bought the “tempo” excuse for the defense at all” — that brings the total up to 2 of us. I never bought into that stuff…

  27. 27 Tumtum said at 10:17 PM on June 27th, 2016:

    I didnt mean to impy they were flawless out of the gate. There was also a three game stretch where they didnt get over used and we slowed down a bit.

    To watch them go back in series on 3 consecutive 3 and outs was back breaking for me and i didnt play. At the begining of the year they forced turnovers and short drives as well.

    Sure the failures of offense werent their only downfall but they were the easiest to fix.

  28. 28 EaglesGameBalls said at 9:15 AM on June 26th, 2016:

    Barwin will be cut

  29. 29 Tumtum said at 10:26 AM on June 26th, 2016:

    Eyyyy you posted ao i can block you

  30. 30 Dude said at 10:29 AM on June 26th, 2016:

    Thanks for reminding me!

  31. 31 meteorologist said at 12:24 PM on June 26th, 2016:

    Block party! Woohoo!

  32. 32 RogerPodacter said at 10:23 AM on June 28th, 2016:

    had to go back a few of Tommy’s posts to find something for me to block! worth it!

  33. 33 BlindChow said at 12:15 PM on June 26th, 2016:

    How to improve your IgglesBlitz experience in 3 easy steps!

  34. 34 meteorologist said at 12:24 PM on June 26th, 2016:

    Block Party!

  35. 35 Jernst said at 2:51 PM on June 26th, 2016:

    Is “love” too strong a word for how I feel about you right now?

  36. 36 Dude said at 10:46 AM on June 26th, 2016:

    Well Tommy, you’ve convinced me. I was firmly in the “Barwin as a LB” camp right up until I watched that first clip. You reminded me of just how good he is when he gets a running start at the tackle, and the wide9 should provide him with the space to get that running start as a pass rusher, as opposed blitzing from nearly the same place. Not to mention his ability to swat the pass down at the LOS, and clean up the QB if he scrambles to his right. I guess I was forgetting just how wily Barwin is. Now if some combination of LB/S can cover some of the elite TE’s we’ll see this year, we won’t miss his coverage ability that much.

  37. 37 Reality Bites said at 11:23 AM on June 26th, 2016:

    An anomaly is something out of the norm, a unique occurrence….and using it to describe Barwin who had double digit sacks twice in 4 years is misleading. If you look at Barwin’s career and usage you would see, particularly with the Texans, that he is used a lot in coverage because he is so athletic. To describe him as just a decent pass rusher is a mistake I think.