2. The Philadelphia Eagles are so focused on Barnett succeeding that they keep missing on better options.
Barnett’s rookie season wasn’t half bad and as a rotational player. He had five sacks and 16 quarterback hits. He even had a key strip-sack in the NFC Championship Game, and he recovered a key fumble on the Eagles’ way to their Super Bowl victory.
’96’ looked ready for a bigger role and for primetime in 2018, so the Eagles handed him the starting role in 2018. He produced a game-clinching sack versus Andrew Luck and the Indianapolis Colts in Frank Reich’s return to Lincoln Financial Field, but overall, he failed to have any major impact as he recorded just 2.5 sack in six games before he was lost for the season with a torn rotator cuff. Again, no one wants to beat a dead horse, but Barnett hasn’t done enough to demonstrate that he’s been worth the confidence that Philly’s shown in him.
In his defense, 2017’s draft wasn’t a good one for finding cornerstone defensive players. Guys like Takkarist McKinnley, Taco Chalton, and Gareon Conley had their names called in the first round, but hindsight is always seen in 20-20 vision, and The Philadelphia Eagles had a chance at a pair of All-Pro players in 2017. They missed on both of them and they’ve continued to miss on better options as they’ve developed this tunnel vision where Barnett is concerned.
Since Philly took ’96’ in 20017’s selection meeting, he’s earned nary Pro Bowl nod or All-Pro designation. Meanwhile, there are a couple of guys who were taken later that are flourishing at the pro level.
T.J. Watt is one of them as he has become the player the Eagles expected Barnett to be. J.J.’s younger brother got an All-Pro designation last season. Wouldn’t it have been great if he had gotten that accomplished in Philadelphia and not five hours west down the 76 freeway?
If you’re among the contingent that the Eagles should have taken a cornerback in Round 1 instead of waiting until Round 2 to take one who had just torn his Achilles tendon, Tre’Davious White is another name that comes to mind. He was also still available when the ‘Birds’ were on the clock, and he’s currently one of the best cornerbacks in the NFL.
Maybe it wouldn’t have turned out this way had Philly taken White, but think about a cornerback room that potentially could have included White, Nickell Robey-Coleman, and Darius Slay. History would have been re-written. Eagles fans would have never had to stress over Sidney Jones. Instead, he and Barnett are both looking at what might be their final games in Philly (Jones’ contract expires at the end of the current season).
It isn’t always healthy to look back at what could’ve been, but it’s clear that Barnett’s choice hasn’t worked out in the best interest of the Eagles. There’s still time for him to develop, but it’s getting closer to midnight. His latest injury may make it even harder for him to overcome the stigma surrounding him, or it could prevent him from succeeding.