Derek Barnett, author of the greatest fumble recovery in Eagles history.
Defensive end Derek Barnett is leaps and bounds ahead of anything we’ve seen from the previous two players noted, but he’s on this list primarily because there’s no depth behind him at defensive end. Barnett is the longest-tenured defensive end on the team outside of Brandon Graham, and 2020 must be a breakout season.
The Eagles picked up his fifth-year option, so he has at least two more seasons ahead of him in midnight green, but this is by far the biggest season of his budding career.
After you consider Barnett and Graham’s combined 65 career sacks, there are seven defensive ends with 10.5 combined career sacks. Graham will be 32 years old when the season begins, and it isn’t often that you see 32-year old defensive end headlining a defense’s outside pass rush. It just doesn’t happen often.
The NFL is home to young pass rushers like the Bosa brothers, Danielle Hunter, T.J. Watt, Dante Fowler, and more. It’s time that Barnett throws his name on that list of the game’s sack leaders.
Of course, there are defensive ends who impact the game in other ways than sacks, but who, on this Eagles team is going to contribute to the Eagles sack numbers outside of Graham? The Eagles can’t rely on their defensive tackles to consistently win inside because outside of what we see from Aaron Donald, that doesn’t happen.
The Eagles can’t rely on any of the outside pass rushers not named Graham and Barnett to put up big numbers. There’s a lot of responsibility falling upon Barnett’s broad shoulders. He has all of the tools necessary to become a star pass rusher, but the numbers haven’t backed that up. Things have to change.
If the Eagles want to have a top-five defense like they did when they hoisted the Vince Lombardi, it’s going to have to start in the trenches. The pass rush fuels what teams get from the second level and the secondary. If the Eagles can’t find consistency in pressuring the opposing quarterback, the defense will surely suffer the consequences.