The Philadelphia Eagles barely sacked anyone or put any pressure on opposing quarterbacks in 2012. As such, the Eagles are likely to start over with a 3-4 defense under Chip Kelly and Billy Davis. To that end, Philadelphia made its biggest free agent signing to date by landing former Houston Texans’ linebacker Connor Barwin on March 14.
According to USA TODAY, Barwin signed for six years and $36 million, with $4 million available in incentives. But the Eagles only gave Barwin a guaranteed $8 million, having learned from their mistakes with other big contracts.
There is a good reason to be cautious, given that Barwin only had three sacks in the entire 2012 season. Yet most of Houston’s sacks last year were run up by J.J. Watt, with Philadelphia counting on Barwin to play like he did in 2011. Back then, he racked up 11 1/2 sacks and was revived by the kind of 3-4 defense Davis will likely implement.
With the 3-4 in place and no one like Watt around to lead the Eagles, Barwin will have his chance to step up. Philadelphia needs an intimidating linebacker again, or at least anyone that can stop the opposition at all.
After the Eagles gave up 444 points in 2012 and failed miserably with their mid-season firing of Juan Castillo, it became clear that they needed a massive defensive overhaul. By letting Nnamdi Asomugha and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie go while signing Cary Williams and Bradley Fletcher, the Eagles have gotten their secondary taken care of. Yet Philadelphia’s line is another matter, given that no one had over 5.5 sacks last year.
The Eagles have to be careful that Barwin doesn’t become another Jason Babin. He received a big deal in 2011 on the strength of one big season at Tennessee, but he wore out his welcome before 2012 was even over.
Philadelphia thought that Babin would deliver, especially with former coach Jim Washburn running the line, yet the pairing brought nothing but disappointment and division. Likewise, pairing Barwin and the 3-4 on the strength of one big year together in 2011 could backfire.
Nevertheless, the Eagles need new blood to make their defensive line a force again -- especially if the offensive line still can’t protect Michael Vick or any other quarterback.