In the early portion of the 2018 NFL season, whenever something has gone wrong for the Minnesota Vikings, it seems as though linebacker Anthony Barr is connected to it in some way. Whether it’s through any fault of his own or not. . .such as being stuck in coverage against a wide receiver, for example. . .it just seems like we haven’t been getting the Anthony Barr we’ve become accustomed to throughout much of his NFL career.
Bill Barnwell of ESPN has taken notice of this, and in his column recapping the first quarter of the 2018 NFL season named Barr as his “Most Disappointing Player.” Here’s what Barnwell had to say about #55:
Chris Conte might have been the victim of the most embarrassing play of the 2018 season when he was stiff-armed onto injured reserve by Vance McDonald in Week 3, but nobody has been on the receiving end of as many notable big plays as Barr over the first month of the campaign. Some aren’t necessarily his fault; while he was the closest defender in coverage on three different touchdowns against the Rams, Barr can’t reasonably be expected to carry Cooper Kupp up the sideline on a “leak concept.” No linebacker in the league is going to cover Robert Woods up the seam, let alone Barr.
During Week 3, though, Barr was made to look foolish more than once by Bills quarterback Josh Allen in the latter’s first NFL start. Barr was the defender Allen hurdled on the most spectacular run from that game, which will earn Barr poster status in Western New York for the foreseeable future. The former first-round pick is in a contract year and wasn’t locked up to an extension over the offseason. Based on his early-season form, the Vikings won’t be able to justify bringing Barr back on an eight-figure annual salary again in 2019.
I’m not going to speculate on why Barr hasn’t had the rough start he has in 2018 thus far, and as both Barnwell and I stated here, not everything bad that has happened to him so far this year has been his fault. I don’t know if Barr’s lack of impact. . .positive impact, in any case. . .is connected to his contract or anything like that, or if this is simply a matter of how he’s being used.
After all, we heard this offseason that the Vikings wanted to use Barr more frequently as an edge rusher. I’m not sure if I’ve just missed it or whatever the case might be, but I don’t know if I’ve actually seen Barr line up with his hand in the dirt at any point this season. You would think that in the absence of Everson Griffen that the Vikings might be doing more things along those lines to generate more pass rush, but as I said. . .unless I’ve just flat out missed it, I haven’t seen anything like that so far this year.
If the Vikings are going to turn around their defensive slide from the first quarter of this season, getting Barr back to making positive plays in both the run and the pass game would be a pretty solid start. Hopefully we’ll see some of that going forward, starting this Sunday in Philadelphia.