Where has Connor gone?
Patrick D. Starr
If you have listened to our podcast, you should know we are big believers in Houston Texans' outside linebacker Connor Barwin. This was supposed to be the season where Barwin built off of what was an impressive 2011 season, where he started 16 regular season games and put together an 11.5 sack season from his new position.
Coming into this season, Barwin was supposed to be one of the key cogs in the defense and be a force off the edge against the run, but most importantly in the pass rush. Through six weeks of the season, it has been anything but what Barwin has hoped for. Stats may be overrated, but he has 11 total tackles for the season, 4 quarterback hurries and zero sacks (278 snaps not including the Packers game). In the grand scheme, those are some pretty telling stats, something is not right for the 4th year pro.
The contract year pressure may be getting to him, and trying too hard to impress his current team could be a factor. The fact that the opposing offenses have been running away from him could be an issue for his low stats (according to Kubiak) or just the fact that he has regressed as a player could be an issue too. He looks like he has forgotten how to rush the passer and looks like he has no real moves to get to the quarterback. He also missed two big opportunities to get off the zero column in sacks when he let Aaron Rodgers shake him after making contact on Sunday night.
If there has been any one big disappointment to the Texans defense, it has to be Barwin especially with the expectations surrounding him. There was news about General Manager Rick Smith working on a deal to extend Barwin for the coming seasons, but Smith is looking like a genius for not jumping the gun on giving Barwin big money to stay in Houston.
The reality is that Barwin needs to wake up before it is too late because this Texans' defense needs his presence more than ever in the pass rush defense. It is not all about sacking the quarterback, but about putting pressure and hits on the opposing signal caller. Barwin still has a chance to salvage his 2012 season because he registered 9.5 sacks starting in week 9 of last season in route to the second double-digit sack season in franchise history.
While it looks like what made Barwin successful last year is lost, there is plenty of football left for him to find it once again. The only issue is if he can't get back to his former self, the contract offers could be not what he thought he was worth but more importantly will his days in Houston be numbered.