When Connor Barwin fractured his arm in Week 12’s win over the New Orleans Saints, his season might have ended. The veteran outside linebacker, who signed for the LA Rams on a one-year deal in March, was not finished, however. Having not missed a game since an ankle injury in 2010, a fractured arm didn’t deter him. The injury kept Barwin out of the games against the Arizona Cardinals and the Philadelphia Eagles. He had hoped to be back earlier but having more time to recover has helped.
Adjusting to a new team and a new defensive strategy is difficult. It has taken the Rams a number of games to get everything just right.
Prior to Sunday’s match, Barwin had recorded just four sacks and made 25 tackles. It’s fair to say that the jury is out as far as Rams fans are concerned. His early season production was not up to the standard he had set in Philadelphia. Playing for the Eagles, he averaged 3.3 tackles and 0.86 sacks per game. In LA, his average dropped to 2.3 tackles and 0.36 sacks per game. At 31, the speed and strength are not the same as they used to be.
With the fractured arm healed, Barwin returned and performed well in the rout against the Seahawks. He led the team with five tackles (four solo) and added a sack on Russell Wilson for good measure. It was his best performance of the season since he recorded seven tackles and one sack at Jacksonville.
The entire defense delivered a masterclass on how to pressure the quarterback with three of Barwin’s tackles coming on Wilson. The Rams sacked Wilson seven times, and Barwin credited the success to the transition from a 4-3 to a 3-4 defensive scheme.
“It was just a good combination of good coverage on the back end and then a good plan up front,” he said speaking to the LA Times. “At times, there were guys who were able to disrupt him and at the same time we always had guys on him when he tried to get out and run.”
Barwin remains the starter for the Rams, but with rookie Samson Ebukam breathing down his neck, he needs to improve. He will be a relatively cheap acquisition for 2018 and his durability gives him something extra. While his time is drawing to a close, he brings a wealth of experience to the team that can only benefit the younger players.
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