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October 20, 2016

Eagles DE Connor Barwin likely to see his snaps decrease

Eagles NFL
102016ConnorBarwin Mark Tenally/AP

Connor Barwin has regressed in Jim Schwartz's scheme.

Through the first five games of the season, Philadelphia Eagles defensive end Connor Barwin leads the teams' defensive linemen in total snaps played.

Player Number of snaps 
 Connor Barwin233 
 Fletcher Cox227 
 Brandon Graham224 
 Bennie Logan159 
 Vinny Curry122 
 Beau Allen96 
 Destiny Vaeao76 
 Marcus Smith53 

However, Barwin has just nine tackles (including just four solo tackles), one sack, and no tackles for loss so far this season. Here's how Barwin's stats compare with some of his defensive line teammates:

 PlayerSolo Tackles Sacks TFL FF 
 Connor Barwin
 Brandon Graham14 
 Fletcher Cox11 
 Bennie Logan
 Vinny Curry

In other words, Barwin has made a solo tackle on 1.7 percent of his defensive snaps so far this season. Jim Schwartz was asked if Barwin is doing things that aren't showing up in the stat sheet.

"Like a lot of other guys, he didn't play his best game this last game," said Schwartz. "He's a guy who can probably benefit from lesser reps and maybe have more production with lesser reps. We've been talking about that. It's just tough in game situations when you're not doing well and everybody starts pressing, starts trying to do too much. Maybe that includes playing too many reps. Connor's a good player when he's fresh and going, and he's no different than the rest of our guys that way, but we're not disappointed in him."

So it sounds a lot like Barwin won't be leading the defensive linemen in snaps much longer. So who will be taking some of Barwin's snaps? The obvious answer would, of course, be Vinny Curry.

"In the Detroit game I think (Curry) played 18 (snaps)," said Schwartz. "It just wasn't enough. We didn't get a lot of chances to rush him inside. Some of those drives were long. It was hard to get substitutions and different packages. 

"Every game is going to be different as far as the number of reps that guys play, but just as a general rule whether it's Vinny or Beau, we need to play those guys more. He certainly played a lot more in this last game. He's one of our better players, and he's going to have to be productive. We have to find a way to get those guys on the field."

Throughout the Chip Kelly era, Barwin was one of the most valuable members on the defense because of his versatility. Barwin can cover, rush the passer, and play to run, but is not a dominant player when doing any of the things.

In Schwartz's scheme, Barwin is being asked to beat left tackles mano-e-mano, which is not his strength. Schwartz needs his front four to be able to generate pressure on their own, without the benefit of blitzing, and Barwin has simply been invisible far too often during long stretches of games.

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