Philadelphia is 3-7-1. Not good. The offense has been stagnant all season. Really not good. Coaching and play-calling seem to be at their worst since the Chip Kelly era. Just downright awful. Philly is, to put it simply, a disaster. During the 2020 season, nothing seems to have gone right, from the franchise quarterback always struggling to poor coaching, to never being able to snub rumors about riffles in the Eagles front office. However, for at least one week, we got to see something a bit more optimistic: the Eagles defense, more specifically, Derek Barnett.
During the week 12 showdown versus the Seattle Seahawks, Philadelphia’s defense came to play. Everyone stepped up their game, and the unit, for one of the rare times this year, looked motivated. No one, however, shined as much as fourth-year pro Derek Barnett.
Derek and Defensive Dominance
Barnett looked like a man possessed on Monday night, racking up 3 tackles, a sack, and 2 TFL’s. Not only that, but he was heavily involved in two fourth-down stops in the first quarter to halt Seattle’s momentum. Although not exactly a breakout game for Barnett, he stepped up big time in crucial moments and finally showed some of that potential he flashed during his Tennessee days.
In 2017, the Eagles spent their first-round pick on Barnett. However, throughout his first four seasons, he’s rarely looked the part. Barnett has had strong performances before, but he’s been hit or miss for the most part. Monday night was a different story. If Barnett keeps that level of play up, he may elevate himself to Pro Bowl caliber someday. For now, though, let’s soak in this excellent performance from Barnett and the entire Eagles’ defense.
It Wasn’t All Derek Barnett, Though…
For one of the rare times this season, the entire defense (sans Darius Slay) played phenomenally. Allow me to walk through some honorable mentions for this week’s Defensive Player of the Week.
The Green Goblin has been up-and-down during his time in Philly. Although he’s shown some minor flashes that he may be a half-decent player, he usually just gets burned deep and doesn’t do much to help the Eagles’ defense. Against Seattle, however, we saw a different side of Mills.
Mills had one of his most productive games yet as an Eagle. The safety-convert racked up 7 tackles and 2 TFL’s, being downright disruptive. He made his presence felt and looked suitable for the majority of the evening.
Singleton has quietly been a quality piece of the Eagles’ defense. In a group of linebackers that is perhaps the league’s worst, he hasn’t gotten much credit for his production this season. However, as he’s done all year, Singleton had another solid game against Seattle. Hopefully, we get to see more of 49 for years to come.
Fletcher Cox, the perennial Pro Bowler, showed his worth against Seattle. After an early sack, he was quieted for much of the rest of the evening. However, Cox doesn’t have to be filling up the stat sheet to make his presence felt. He ate up blocks allowing his fellow defensive linemen to make plays, also racking up 5 tackles himself.
McLeod is another guy who wasn’t heard from too much. However, one play was enough for me to include him on this list. During the first quarter, Seattle attempted to run a reverse play with a tight end leading the ball carrier. However, McLeod decided to shut it down quickly by cutting the lead blocker and ultimately blowing up the play. This type of physicality isn’t seen too often from Eagles’ defenders, so it was refreshing to see someone play with that kind of reckless abandon.
The Future is Still Bleak
Despite this outstanding performance, it’s hard to have much faith in the Eagles moving forward. The bottom line is that these tremendous defensive performances are far and few between. Barnett played great, Cox played great, Mills played great for one of the first times ever, yet it doesn’t feel like anything has changed. As if it needed to be said, change is necessary for the organization, and not just from a roster standpoint.
As has become customary, I will end this Defensive Player of the Week with a little blurb on the Eagles state. We aren’t good at football. When the offense is good, the defense sucks. When the defense is good, the offense sucks. Coaching always sucks. There aren’t many good things to have come out of 2020, and looking towards the future (and I mean over the next few seasons), things do not look good. It’s a bad time to be an Eagles fan. Oh well, at least we got one good defensive performance out of it.