Eagles Defensive Coordinator Defends Derek Barnett’s Vicious Hit

Jim Schwartz

Getty Eagles defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz knows the defense has to clean up the mental mistakes.

There were a bunch of “kill shots” leading to more criticism over increased violence in the NFL this past weekend. One player has been suspended for the rest of the regular season, while the Eagles’ Derek Barnett likely won’t be punished at all.

Barnett had drawn the ire of many fans after his jarring hit on Packers running back Jamaal Williams last Thursday. The Eagles defensive end has never been known as a dirty player, so his track record probably saved him from both fine and suspension. That wasn’t the case with Vontaze Burfict. The Raiders linebacker has been the poster boy for “intent to injure” over the years and now he has been banned from playing in any further games.

Barnett, of course, delivered a pretty crushing headshot in his own right. Eagles defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz chalked it up to someone trying to make a good hustle play.

“Derek is running to the football on a pass play,” Schwartz said. “We put a lot of emphasis on guys running to the football, and he’s going in trying to get the ball out. He’s trying to get a fumble. He’s not targeting anyone. He’s going in trying to get the football. We want guys hustling. We want guys trying to get that.”

Eagles linebacker Zach Brown also caught some heat last week for dragging Packers receiver Marquez Valdes-Scantling down by the helmet. That play wasn’t anywhere near as malicious as the Burfict hit or the Barnett one, but it drew a 15-yard face-masking call. Schwartz defended Brown, but admitted the refs made the right call.

“He got up on the side of the helmet and even if it’s not like the classic definition of a face mask, if you get on the side of a guy’s helmet and turn it, particularly as sticky as the gloves are, it’s going to look bad and you’re going to get those flags,” Schwartz said.

Eagles Killing Themselves with Penalties?

The Eagles have done a lot of good things this season. But one thing needs to stop: all the penalties. Philadelphia was flagged nine times for 93 yards last week against Green Bay, including two big 15-yard ones for unnecessary roughness on Derek Barnett and Zach Brown. Championship teams don’t give up field position and free yards, especially not mental mistakes like hitting players late.

“You don’t want to be undisciplined. You don’t want to play outside the bounds of the game,” Schwartz said. “I don’t think either of those guys would fall into those categories.”

Schwartz also reminded everyone that the Eagles had been pretty good overall in avoiding penalties in the first three games. They were near the bottom of the league in that department prior to Thursday’s 34-27 win over the Packers, with only 19 total penalties. Now they have been flagged for 26 penalties for 238 yards, including four of them enforced for unnecessary roughness.

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