Philadelphia Eagles: Shaquil Barrett is outpacing Jim Schwartz’s D-line

(Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)
(Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images) /

Though it’s just Week 3, Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ edge rusher Shaquil Barrett is on pace to single-handedly out sack the Philadelphia Eagles’ defensive line.

Are you familiar with the name Shaquil Barrett?

An undrafted free agent out of Colorado State, Barrett spent his first four seasons in the NFL backing up Von Miller and eventually Bradley Chubb as a member of the Denver Broncos.

While he wasn’t as prestigious an addition as, say, 2015 first-round pick Shane Ray, Barrett provided steady pressure as a fastball off the bench – averaging 3.5 sacks a season over his final four years in the Mile High City.

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But clearly, that wasn’t enough to keep him employed by John Elway‘s club.

Upon hitting free agency, Barrett only received two offers, one from the Cincinnati Bengals, and a one-year, $4 million deal with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to compete with ex-2016 second-round pick – and Pennsylvania native – Noah Spence for a starting outside linebacker spot in Todd Bowles‘ relocated 3-4 defense.

Fast forward to the culmination of Week 3 and Barrett is the NFL’s sack leader with eight, tied for the most sacks ever amassed by a player in the first three games of a season.

But, you may ask, what does this have to do with the Philadelphia Eagles? Easy: Barrett alone has more sacks then Brandon Graham, Derek Barnett, Fletcher Cox, and Hassan Ridgeway combined –  eight more to be exact.

That’s right, despite playing for a (really) bad team, Barrett has consistently found ways to pressure quarterbacks of all shapes and sizes, from traditional pocket passers like Jimmy Garoppolo, as well as more athletic dual-threat QBs like Cam Newton and Daniel Jones.

The Eagles, who have yet to face a truly elite offensive line, have only amassed two sacks on the season, one by safety Andrew Sendejo and another by currently-injured tackle Timmy Jernigan.

And worst of all, Jim Schwartz isn’t exclusively rushing four.

Despite deploying some of his most creative blitzing packages to date over the first three-week of the regular season, a major bugaboo for a stubborn coordinator like Schwartz, opposing quarterbacks have had little to worry about in the pocket thus far in 2019.

Sure, Derek Barnett specifically has played a little better than his sack total would suggest, as he presently has eight QB hits on the season, but they exclusively came in weeks one and two against a hapless Washington Redskins team and the depleted offensive line of the Atlanta Falcons.

But, I hear you asking, maybe it’s the supporting cast that’s setting Barrett up for success in a way the Eagles’ is not. Well, while the Buccaneers do have Ndamukong Suh and 2017 first-round nose tackle Vita Vea clogging up the interior, neither player is better than Fletcher Cox, though maybe they are better than Fletcher Cox right now, as he’s looked off ever since the start of 2019 season.

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No, despite the air of Jason Babin-esque fakery, Shaquil Barrett has earned his sacks the hard way, and could very well pass into double digits against 37-year-old Los Angeles Rams left tackle Andrew Whitworth as soon as Sunday, while the Philadelphia Eagles will inevitably struggle yet again to disrupt the pocket against the Green Bay Packers on a close-to-must-win Week 4 appearance on Thursday Night Football. But hey, after passing on trading for Jadeveon Clowney, maybe Howie Roseman could offer a third-round pick to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers for Barrett’s services. He is an impending free agent after all.