• May 19, 2022

Eagles Linebackers: Conner Barwin and Mychal Kendricks Standing Out

I thought the area of the defense which stood out the most for me was the play of the linebackers, particularly Connor Barwin and Mychael Kendricks.  I think they can go into the season with the confidence that they’re going to get big plays out of their linebackers.

The off season trade acquisition is a rangy and savvy veteran, while the second-year, second round draft pick, Kendricks is pure speed, athleticism and energy.

Barwin gave us a look at his versatility, by picking off a pass and collecting a sack early in the game.  Versatility is a rare trait for linebackers nowadays.  Most of the linebackers in the league are good at one of the following: rushing the passer, defending the run or covering receivers.  Barwin is good in all these areas.

On the pass play in which he made the pick, the former Houston Texan was responsible for the outside flat area, but he slid inside because he wasn’t being threatened out in the flat.  The former Cincinnati University standout slid into the throwing lane and picked the pass off.

If no receivers threaten you, you need to move to where the receivers are because the offense is flooding a zone somewhere else. You should move over there to help your teammates.

This is the key to good zone defense in the NFL.  You don’t play a true zone, you play a man within the zone, which means you are manned up on any receiver, who comes into your area.

If you play a pure zone in the NFL, you will get picked apart because the arm strength and accuracy of the better quarterbacks are so good that playing a pure zone will have you doing nothing but observing them completing passes.  You have to play man within the zone, meaning you stick like glue to a receiver, who comes into your zone or area.

You get interceptions as a linebacker by moving to a place where they don’t expect you to be, because you read the route and adjusted.  The Eagles need to play a lot of zone defense, but they will need to learn to play it well, by reading routes and communicating.  Barwin and middle linebacker DeMeco Ryans have that knowledge, but I don’t think the rest of the defensive players have it.

Good linebackers learn how to read the routes.  I’ll explain that to your sometime, but I don’t have the time right now.

Barwin is 6’4″ and his arms are very long, which is the reason he was able to jump and reach high enough to get his hands on the football. He got one hand on it to knock it up in the air, then dove and caught while laying on the ground.  It was a big time play.

The sack was a matter of staying with it for Barwin.  Jags quarterback Chad Henne felt pressure from the outside pass rush and tried to escape by moving up into the pocket then trying to run, but Barwin was able to get his hands on him.

Kendricks made some nice plays against the Jacksonville running game, by attacking the line of scrimmage.  I like the way his tackling has improved.  His lack of height gives him an advantage, when it comes to getting up under the ball carrier which is a key to good tackling.

Playing linebacker is similar to being a running back because you play off of the line in front of you.  Kendricks is so short, that he gets lost behind the defensive line and comes out of nowhere to pound people.  He’s got good, quick and explosiveness.

I want to see him go after the football, by attacking the ball by putting his helmet on it or by  punching it out.

The Eagles defense has forced only one turnover in three games.  You can’t win in this league at that level.

I was disappointed with what I saw for backup linebacker Chris McCoy, who I thought had shown some promise this summer.  He was playing much too passively when he got in the game.  McCoy was allowing the Jags to run right at him and gain good yardage each time.  The young linebacker was catching the blocks rather than attacking the blockers.


McCoy has the size, long arms and athleticism which you see in Barwin, but he’s got to play the game much more aggressively.   I’ve liked his combination of size and athleticism, but he hasn’t made enough plays to make this team.  He must have a productive game on Thursday.

If I were his coach I would let him know that his football career was on the line.

I thought Emmanuel Acho got in the game and played aggressively like a linebacker should and shut down the Jags running game to the Birds right side.


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  • Yeah standing out on an embarrassing defense.. They’ve played well but not even close to an All-Pro level.. Need to get better at stopping the run and playing physical

  • I agree G-Man about LB McCoy.. He’s become more passive as the Camp/Preseason has gone along after a fast start to Camp..
    Both LB’s Matthews & Acho have become stronger and stronger and have played much better as the Pre-Season/Camp has gone along

    I watched re-play last evenign and was really impressed with DE Everett Brown who played very well this entire Pre-Season and could make the 53man Roster

  • gmcliff will disagree with this article. BWAHAHAHA!!!!

    • haha…where is gmcliff?…he must be getting my T shirt ready! haha…

      • Nah Brother, were cool Real. Just keep bringing it with those nice post Good Brother…..

        T-Shirts are for buttholes like Eagles0superbowls.

    • I’ll make my point from Barwins overall performance for the year.. not just one game. Memory serves me right, he was invisible in the previous games, so good for him. To me it’s just an aberration……He’s still Jason Babin to me.

      • BWAHAHAHA!!!! I couldn’t resist!

  • Well let’s see what the Defense does against the Redskins. I do like both of those LB’s but it’s gonna take another guy to come out of nowhere to make this a half decent corp. Mccoy maybe, Ryans is steady but it looks like he’s just a steady guy.

  • Tommy Streeter was released from Baltimore. 6’6″ , 215 lbs. Drafted out of Miami in 2011. Ran a 4.4 40. Suffered foot injury last year and sat out. Worth a look see IMO.

    • Couldn’t catch the ball consistently when he was at the U of Miami or when playing the Raiders.. The 76ers should give him a look though..

  • One quick look won’t hurt. Sometimes a change of scenery does the hands good!

  • Need to see Curry out there more. Dude is too fast for tackles and too strong for TE.

  • **More NFL Injury News

    KC Chiefs lose TE Tony Moeaki to a Franctured Shoulder and could miss the 2013 Season again .. The 4 Year Pro (from Iowa) after a promising Rookie Season has missed most of his last 3 Seasons with teh CHielfs who has Tony Fasano and Draft PIck Travis Kelce to step in and Play

    Redskins release 32 Year old WR Donte’ Stallworth who has a whopping 25 Receptions his last 3 Seasons.. This could be it for him..

    NY Jets Released WR Braylon edwards and RB/Returnman Joe McKnight

  • LB Kennan Clayon released by the Raiders..
    I always wondered if he could have become a better Safety in the NFL than LB

    • I agree with his speed he had a shot at being an enforcer type… But did he have the football IQ???

      • Re : Clayton, it’s very doubtful and his work ethic was always questioned also even back in his Oklahoma University days of playing..Always played well in games, but was not much on practice which has dogged him his entire NFL Career..

  • Barwin is absolutely Jason babin, he’s a freaked out roid specimen that will be exposed once the big men impose their will on him after the season gets underway, notice how babin schooled layne Johnson for a bit, then Johnson adapted

    This eagles defense is the worst I can ever remember, ever, they have maybe two playmakers, maybe three, pitiful

    • I thnik the D is bad but…I think / hope last years Defense was worse. I am ok with struggles if we are truly gonna run a real 3-4 next year and the years after as I feel it is a better defense for the modern NFL IF YOU HAVE THE RIGHT GUYS meaning size speed LB’s and a NT to control and anchor the middle.

  • He has a better attitude than babin and is younger and even faster than babin.. He ran a 4.47 and can cover tight ends.. He only 26 years old.

    • It’s not even an Apple to Apple Comparison..
      Babi is Strictly a Oassing Rushing DE with his hand on the ground
      Varwin is a stand up OLB who does so many other things well as G-Man alluded too and who knows a little more about LB than Jake, GMCliff, etc..
      About the only similarity between the 2 is that they are white with big Biceps and that’s about it…

      • smh Jakedog’s opinion should be Voided from here on out. To call Barwin, Jason babin exposes how much people one just talk out of there ass and don’t know football on this site. You literally must be only looking at complexion and maybe because they both line up on the outside in your eyes. lol like Size, weight, speed, agility, skill set, position they differ in just about every aspect.

        • We’re not talking measurables Nu. We’re talking production, and impact. The analogy of him to Babin fits. At the end of the season, look at his body of work, and tell me he is impact, or Jason Babin the sequel .

      • G, has never been a GM….and I am more qualified to be one than him although, he has more NFL playing experience. With all due respect, He would be a horrible GM, as would most of you that like Barwin.

        I say Connor Barwins expected impact, is similar to what was expected of Jason Babin after his 18 sack season. Some are looking for him to relive his 11 sack season, and impact this team like an All Pro, which I know he will not. He won’t have games like that where he is that lucky. He is Jason Babin the sequel.

        • I think you are way wrong on Barwin..
          I am not sure who expects him to be a “Sack-Machine” other than you GMCliff..
          He will be the best all-around OLB the Eagles have had in 10-15 Years,
          He will not get a lot of Sacks for he won’t be rushing the Passer often..
          He will concenrate on Run-Defense,Covering TE/RB’s out the Backfield which has killed the Eagles for 10 Years now..

          You guys out way too much stock in Sack #’s to determine whether a playerr in Effective and Productive.. Trent Cole for years would get decent Sack Totals, but give up huge yards Rushing around his end all Game long… which is what I would point out time and time again and some of you were completely blind to it..Same with Babin.. His only focus, mission was to rush straight after the QB while letting everything else go (End containment, Chip on TE, Stopping the Run, etc..) Think about it.. If you Play 40 Snaps a Game and strictly rush the QB all out on every-snap..shouldn’t you end up with 15 Sacks..Hell once a game you should get free, don’t you think..
          You have to look and overall production, making plays, lane discipline,containment, turning plays back in to your inside help, creating Turnovers, sound tackling fundamentals, etc,etc…
          Many good Players get mentioned for their “Big Plays” like Sacks,Int’s, but it’s a lot of little things done well that make a Player a good and great Player and a real contributor.. Can Barwin be this guy, who knows, but he’s th ebest OLB the Eagles have had since Seth Joyner wo let’s support him and see how he does….
          You guys bitch and moan and act as if every “Player Aquisition” or Draft Pick is going to be an All-Pro Player, well guess what, it doesn’t happen like that ..The Eagles in fact don’t have any true All-Pro Players (maybe LT Jason Peters) .. Remember that there are about 25 All Pro-Players out of an approx 1700 Players in the NFL.. Do the Math, (1.5%) But unless your Team is playing well and in the Playoff-Hunt and preferably in the Big MArket, many good to very good Players are not going to be noticed much outside their local Fan Base’s..

          • I disagree……….I have never stated that all players on the field have to be all pros…You did, and you assumed that when I complained about the players drafted.

            But,What you fail to realize is how right I am when they rarely draft a player that develops in to something serviceably special, or acquire free agents with some real impact….Connor Barwin is a special athlete, so is every player in professional sports, but in terms of real impact…..he is nothing special….Mute issue to me.

            You guys all said Brandon Graham was special, and I disagreed there as well……but who was right? He should have been traded right? Wishful, positive thing on Howies part.

            Its nice to be positive, but that will never replace the value of talent, that results in impactful production on the field and in wins.

            • All I am saying GMCliff is that Barwin is a good, solid NFL OLB and a definite upgrade over who they’ve had playing OLB in many years..I never stated that he’s an impact player for he will not be getting 10-12-15 Sacks for he will be asked to play more in Pass-Coverage’s which at the LB Position has killed the Eagles for Years.. You have been bashing the guy since they Signed him without even giving him a chance to see what he can do..
              I think your just upset since I called that the Eagles were going to pursue him heavy in Free-Agency back in Febuary and you stated that I was nuts..

              • I can agree with the upgrade Paul Brother, seeing how bad our Linebackers have been. But being that, doesn’t say he is a Pro Bowler, or special.

                I can give the guy a chance, but I’m not going to hold my breath in waiting for him to prove something that he’s not.

                But I’m still your biggest fan Paul…:)

              • I agree about him being an Upgrade
                I am not sure who ever stated thathe was going to be a Pro-Bowler or a Dominating Type of LB..He’s a Good Football Player, but not dominating, those are few and far between.

                How did you do with your Fantasy Football Draft..
                I have one tonight and need to do some Prep Work..

              • I was looking forward to picking 6th, but when I logged on I was picking 12th. I also lost connection, so some of these guys were automatically drafted that I didn’t want.

                I wanted Kenbrell Thompkins, Andre Brown, and Zac Sudfeld ( Gronks replacement until he is full strength. Will be KILLER for 6 weeks)

                QB- Colin Kaepernick
                RB- David Wilson
                RB- Montee Ball
                WR- Calvin Johnson
                WR- Dez Bryant
                TE- Brandon Myers
                FLEX- Lance Moore
                K- Blair Walsh
                DEF- Bears
                BN – Justin Blackmon
                BN – DeAndre Hopkins
                BN – Jermaine Gresham
                BN – Matt Schaub
                BN – Shonne Green
                BN – Joique Bell
                BN – 49ers Defense

              • To me Barwin is serviceable, not special. He has had one decent game in the 3 preseason games played, and now some feel he has arrived..no he hasn’t.

  • The defense last year was as bad as I have ever seen it. Hopefully it will be better than that. Can’t have the turnover of players and system and expect to be awesome from day 1.

  • They are both artificially created athletes that wear down over time, I judge with my eyes nugreembol not with stats, geekdom, to many fantasy football ball geeks here

    • So, Barwin is gonna wear down this year or he has already worn down? He is 26. And you can tell what his impact will be on this defense in 3 pre-season games? You should be a GM then.

      And as cool as you think you are for never looking at stats, you are ignoring a large part of the scouting process which actually football scouts use as well as the eye test.

    • So when I say I didn’t like Foles because he doesn’t have “it”. I was wrong but your opinion is on point when you use the eye test? Got it.

      • Your eyes don’t count Big just like any statistical reference. Jake is the only one that can evaluate talent correctly.

  • Eagles Defense and the Secondary & LB’s in particular, have been bad since about 2009.. Take the last 3 Seasons Combined Stats and they rank almost bottom in the NFL in Overall Passing Defense, TD Passes given up, 3rd Down Efficiency, Red Zone Defense, Opposing QB’s Ratings, Lack of Tunrovers, Etc,Etc.. Just brutal and it’s not all going to get fixed in 1 Off-Season..
    Coach AR let JJ run things on the Defensive Side of the Ball and when JJ passed on, no one in the Eagles Organization had a real Focus, or Personnel Strategy.. It went from overmatched Sean McDermott who was put in the tough spot to even more inexperienced Defensive Coach in Juan Castillo to Todd Bowles.. It’s no wonder the Eagles Defense has been one of the NFL’s Weakest and Softest .. It’s going to take a while rebuild that side of the Ball and there are no easy,quick fixes here anyway you look at it..

    • And then there is the fanbase…. many fans can clearly see how bad this D has gotten. But some think you only need highlight reel O. Your stats here Pman are dead on…. I know the glory days of my eagles D wont be coming back but in this day and age in order to win the SB you need to either…. 1. Have a Tom Brady/Payton manning type. By this i mean…. greatest of all time qb. 2. Get red hot going into the playoffs. 3. Have a solid TEAM.

      The eagles would be wise to build a hard hitting D again…. even the simpletons know this… well…. most of them do.

  • I think Kendricks will evolve into the dominate player of the LB’s corps…I think he can be utilized in more scenarios than any of the others…Not sure about Barwin as of yet…but I don’t think we need him to be that superstar LB, just consistent. My concern is the other OLB spot…Which I think will be inconsistent, with Cole and the young players behind him. LB’s have played better than I expected…especially since the first preseason game.

    • It’s a real shame that Phillip Hunt got hurt, he was looking real good out there in my opinion,and had much better LB intincts that I would have thought and probably would ghave beaten out Trent Cole by mid season

  • Why is it so hard for some of you ti understand what preseason means?

    If you are looking for starting D players to shine you will be sad. No coach wants to tip their hand on either side of the ball. Here is what Im looking for out of the positions on both sides in preseason.

    DL- Feet moving well, did they keep off the weight in the off season? How strong do they look?

    LB’s- Hussle getting to the ball and bringing a man down.

    CB’s-Speed and tackling.

    FS/SS- In Philly, “making progress” is being in the camera shot still when the other team scores.

    OL- Power

    RB’- hands

    WR’s- running the simple routes quick and cleanly.

    QB- get the TD and dont get hurt.

    Its only when the backups come in that we begin to see a little fire.

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