The New York Jets, a team who have been starved for a pass-rusher for years, bolstered their pass rush when they signed outside linebacker Antwan Barnes to a three-year $4.05 million deal this offseason.
With all the hoopla surrounding the Jets, the linebacker has been flying under the radar but is ready to step up for the Jets. Barnes feels confident and revitalized as he reunites with Rex Ryan—Barnes played under Rex Ryan for two seasons, in 2007 and 2008, when Ryan was a defensive coordinator for the Baltimore Ravens.
In an interview with Rich Cimini of ESPN, Barnes says: There’s no limit to what I can do this year. Barnes was a pass-rushing specialist for the San Diego Chargers for three seasons, but with an influx of players on the Chargers roster, opportunities to stand out were slim for Barnes.
Well, there will be plenty of opportunities for Barnes to shine with the Jets. Calvin Pace and Quinton Coples will be starting in the base defense, but outside of those two players the depth chart is pretty thin. “This is a great opportunity for me because they didn’t go in the draft and try to find somebody,” said Barnes.
Barnes was a fourth-round draft pick in 2007 by the Baltimore Ravens. He played two of his three seasons with the Ravens under Ryan. The linebacker was traded to Philadelphia in 2010 but was released a few weeks into the season before being signed by San Diego. According to Pro Football Focus, Barnes played 483 snaps in 2011 and recorded a career-high 11 sacks and 29 quarterback hurries, but his production dipped the season after that due to injuries. Barnes has 23.5 sacks and five forced fumbles in his career.
Barnes can come in and make plays for the Jets immediately due to his familiarity with Rex Ryan’s defensive schemes. He is a capable run-stuffer and is explosive off the edge to beat offensive linemen and get to the backfield. Barnes can push the pocket and attack the quarterback consistently.
Rex Ryan and the Jets will definitely put Barnes’ skills to good use, we all know the Jets need his help in the pass rushing department. Question is, what exactly will be Barnes’ role? Situational pass-rusher or a every-down linebacker?