Denver Broncos Should Look to Antwan Barnes for Pass Rush Help



After five games, it has become evident to me that losing Elvis Dumervil has hurt the Broncos much worse than I initially had anticipated.

The Broncos generate roughly no pass rush, and while their pass defense has been better than many teams without a rush, I simply couldn't stand that Joe Flacco was able to not only knit sweaters while picking what receiver he wanted to throw to, but "Crazy Legs Joe" was able to scramble away from what appeared to be a collapsing pocket on multiple occasions. One play sealed the game for the Broncos, when on a third down Flacco escaped a pocket that he should not have, and scampered for a first down. The Ravens finished the drive with a Ray Rice touchdown run.

While Jason Hunter was an outstanding pickup and Robert Ayers has blossomed into a solid NFL starter, the Broncos severely lack a pass rushing threat on the roster. Jarvis Moss was supposed to pick up some slack, but he absolutely has not. It's time for the Broncos to search the waiver wire for a situational pass rush man, and they need to look no further than former Baltimore Raven and Philadelphia Eagle Antwan Barnes.

There may not be a state that has put out more NFL talent than the schools down south in Florida. One school that had never put a player in the NFL was Florida International. That all changed in 2007 when the Ravens selected defensive end Antwan Barnes in the fourth round.

Barnes had been extremely productive in college, but was considered to be a situational NFL player. NFL Draft Scout compared his skill set to that of Robert Mathis if you need any indication of his pass rushing prowess at the collegiate level. Still, they labeled him a situational player, and that's exactly what he has become.

With the Ravens, Barnes had five sacks in three years on a very limited amount of snaps. 2009 was his best year as a pro, when he had 13 tackles, three sacks, and an interception. The Ravens are so deep at the hybrid linebacker position that they traded him to Philadelphia, where the Eagles hoped he would fit in their defense as a linebacker.

He did not.

Barnes was recently cut from the Eagles and is now a free agent. He turns 26 this month, and stands at 6'1" 250 pounds. He is a situational pass rush specialist, which is something we need in all sorts of ways. He isn't valuable as a special teams player, so that is working against him, but our pass rush is a joke right now. Opposing quarterbacks have too much time to pick apart our defensive backs.

If Barnes is not an option, then the Broncos need to promote from within. Give Kevin Alexander a shot at knocking down some quarterbacks, or promote Diyral Briggs, the linebacker we signed from San Francisco. Right now, the Broncos' pass rush is in a shambles.

If teams have all day to throw against us, what do we expect the outcome to be? Even Jason Campbell is an NFL quarterback, and if he has time, you can bet he will make a throw. The Broncos need to make a move. Whether it's Barnes, Alexander, Briggs, or someone I have not mentioned, something needs to be done.

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