What are Eagles going to do about Derek Barnett's lack of discipline?

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What are Eagles going to do about Derek Barnett's lack of discipline? originally appeared on NBC Sports Philadelphia

Derek Barnett had gone four straight games without a penalty. Pretty impressive.

All good things must come to an end.

Barnett's four-game penalty-free streak ended Sunday with a costly 3rd-down offsides that turned a 3rd-and-6 into an easily converted 3rd-and-1 and helped lead to a Chargers 4th-quarter touchdown in a game the Eagles ultimately lost by three points.

It was Barnett's 23rd career infraction (three have been declined) and fourth this year but his first since a roughing the passer in Week 4 against the Chiefs. 

"He's doing a good job," defensive coordinator Jonathan Gannon said. "He's improved that part of his game. He's playing, I would say, more disciplined with what we're asking him to do with the penalties thing. I'm very happy with Derek. 

"No one's going to be harder on him than himself. But it's just to lock in and make sure that we don't have pre-snap penalties and keep doing what he's doing, because he's doing a good job in the run and pass game." 

In reality, it's been a very disappointing fifth season for Barnett, who has just one sack in nine games.

Out of 41 defensive ends who've started at least six games, Barnett is one of only nine that has one or fewer sack. 

Barnett, the 16th pick in the 2017 draft, has just 20½ sacks in parts of five seasons.

Nick Sirianni pointed to the Eagles' overall improvement in penalties when asked about Barnett's lack of discipline.

The Eagles committed 50 penalties in their first five games but only 13 in the last four games. They still have the 4th-most penalties in the league this year with 63, just two behind league leaders Houston and Carolina.

"He's had two of those big ones in 3rd-down scenarios, but I do believe, just like the rest of the team, we're trending in the right way with our penalty situation," he said. "It does happen. It can't happen in that situation, but it does happen. But I believe Derek is trending in the right direction and he had a back fall (Sunday)."

Barnett has a history of penalties -- including 10 personal fouls -- and when a player develops a reputation like that, it means refs are keeping a closer eye on him.

Here's a look at Barnett's penalty history:

  • 2017 (4 for 36 yards): Four offsides (two declined), one roughing the passer, one unnecessary roughness

  • 2018 (2 for 9 yards): Two offsides

  • 2019 (10 for 70 yards): Four offsides, three unnecessary roughness, one roughing the passer, one illegal use of hands, one defensive holding [declined]

  • 2020 (3 for 25 yards): Two offsides, one unnecessary roughness

  • 2021 (4 for 28 yards): Two offsides, one roughing the passer, one unnecessary roughness

"I just have to look at the element of work that I'm dealing with that I've been here for," Sirianni said. "I can't speak to anything that's happened in the past. It's this 2021 season, and Derek had a penalty (Sunday) that he's going to want back. Jalen (Hurts) missed a throw that he's going to want back. DeVonta (Smith) missed a route that's he's going to want back.

"That's the nature of the game. I've got a lot of confidence in Derek. Derek made some nice plays. Derek is a guy that plays extremely hard and extremely tough. He made some nice plays in that game. 

"He's going to want that penalty back. We want it back. But I think we're trending in the right direction. It's no different there correcting Derek's mistake as it is correcting an offensive lineman's mistake or whoever it is. So we're working through it, but I did think he played a solid game and he always plays hard and he always plays physical and he always plays tough."

In his one interview this year -- early last month -- Barnett acknowledged that he has to reduce his penalties.

"It's something I need to correct and I continue to work on," Barnett said in a rare interview with reporters on Friday afternoon. "Can't put my team in a tough position, even if it's 5 yards, 10, whatever it is. If I'm hurting the team in that way, we're not focused on the main goal, which is winning. So I need to correct that issue."

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