Philadelphia Eagles DE Derek Barnett might be getting a reputation as a dirty player. In Week 4 against Green Bay, the third-year player laid a vicious, helmet-to-helmet hit on Packers RB Jamaal Williams, which concussed Williams and sent him to the hospital, and last week against the Jets, during Nathan Gerry’s interception return for a touchdown, Barnett was called for a personal foul penalty for his block on Jets offensive lineman Alex Lewis.
While some may believe Barnett is a dirty player, Eagles DC Jim Schwartz does not think that is the case.
“Yeah, both my daughters wear Derek Barnett jerseys to the games, so that tells you how much I think of him,” Schwartz said on Tuesday. “Derek is always a guy that plays with a chip on his shoulder. It’s one of the things that makes him successful.
“But you have to be careful about crossing that line, and interception returns traditionally have been — I mean, you go back and I don’t want to bore you — but like 20 years ago the interception return would be like nine guys on defense trying to go mess up the quarterback.
“You get offensive linemen that are knocking you around the pile or holding you the whole time, and now it’s like, I’m going to go get that guy back. You can’t make it a personal war. It has to be about the team, whether it’s who gets the sack or who gets the block, whatever it is.
“The one dynamic that’s a little bit different this year — doesn’t really affect — hasn’t had anything to do with Derek, but the whole peel-back block going in. We’ve tried to really emphasize that, because you can’t go in with any kind of force. You have to wall guys off with your hands.
“It’s so hard to make plays and get interceptions or scoop fumbles. The last thing you want to do is take that away with a penalty. Derek knows that. He just has to balance playing with that chip on his shoulder and playing tough and physical and hustling, all the things we love about him, and just make sure we don’t cross the line into doing something that hurts the team.“
Those hits by Barnett were unnecessary, and in today’s NFL, those types of hits will get you fined and maybe even suspended. While it’s too soon to call Barnett a dirty player, it’s in Barnett’s best interest to clean things up moving forward.