Pro Bowl selections were announced this week and Anthony Barr’s name was nowhere to be found.
The Vikings linebacker made his first Pro Bowl last year and seemed a good bet to return, but his follow-up season has been a real downer.
Barr was rated by Pro Football Focus as the No. 2 overall linebacker in the NFL last season, and the top outside linebacker in a 4-3 scheme. This season, he’s ranked No. 85 overall.
“Anthony sometimes has a tendency to coast a little bit,’’ head coach Mike Zimmer said Wednesday. “And I think when he cuts it loose a little bit more, I think that’s when you see him making the explosive plays and kind of the wild plays.’’
Zimmer said he, defensive coordinator George Edwards and linebackers coach Adam Zimmer have talked to the three-year veteran about that issue.
The Vikings drafted Barr no. 9 overall two years ago. He showed lots of promise his rookie season, then blossomed in year two. And in year three? He's dogcrap. Some of his regression is down to injury, no doubt. Early in the season especially Barr was a bit banged up. But Zimmer's remarks make it clear that injury alone is not to blame for Barr plummeting in year three. Clearly, Anthony Barr started thinking A LOT of himself after making the Pro Bowl and took his foot off the pedal improvement-wise and we see the results. Instead of taking the next step in year three, he stopped working, stopped WANTING IT, and slid backward.
Zimmer obviously wants Barr to work harder, but is Barr the kind of guy who will take that criticism to heart and actually work harder or will he become a pouty bitch a la Jamie Collins. I bring Collins up for a reason. HE is another guy who has all the talent in the world but clearly does not want to work on his game. What did Bill Belichick do when it became clear Collins did not have the world-class attitude to go along with his world-class talent? Traded his ass away. Belichick is not a guy who plays around with bad-attitude players. With Belichick the program is ALWAYS bigger than the individual player. Doesn't matter how good that player is supposed to be, if Belichick doesn't want him around, he won't be around.
Not for a second do I actually think the Vikings would entertain trading Anthony Barr, but I still pose the question: should the Vikings consider trading Anthony Barr? Should Minnesota take a page out of the New England playbook and, placing PROGRAM over PLAYER, dangle Barr out there and see what they can get?
If Barr really is a low-effort guy, a bad-attitude guy, a potential problem guy, then definitely the Vikings should explore all avenues. The player must always come second to the program. Bill Belichick knows this and it's about time Rick Spielman learned it. And applied that approach to ALL the players on the roster, including that guy who wears #28.