Outside linebacker Connor Barwin has been a key member of the Eagles defense and brought an underrated element the unit has sorely lacked in previous seasons – the ability to bat down passes at the line of scrimmage.
Coming from the Houston Texans, where defensive end J.J. Watt practices the craft better than any defensive lineman in league history, Barwin knows the advantage of getting his hands up as the quarterback is getting ready to release the ball.
"It was a big emphasis where I came from (Houston)," Barwin said. "Then I think with my basketball background (he played at the University of Cincinnati), that has something to do with it."
The combination of Barwin's height, length, athleticism and basketball instincts make him the perfect specimen for getting his hands up and deflecting passes. After notching another bat-down at the line of scrimmage against the Washington Redskins, Barwin now has a total of 10 passes defended for the season, which ranks him tied for third among all front-seven players. At the very worst, deflecting passes typically results in an incompletion, but it also offers an opportunity for the defense to make a play on the ball and come up with a turnover via interception.
Just from watching the Eagles defense in 2013, it is obvious that the coaching staff has urged front-seven players to get their hands up more in an attempt to disrupt passes. Barwin has led the way, and the rest of his front-seven brethren have followed suit.