Eagles Will Need More From Patterson and Bunkley

Written By Bob Cunningham On Saturday, April 10, 2010

Bunkley will be counted on for an inside pass-rush.

In 2008, both Mike Patterson and Brodrick Bunkley were being discussed as two of the best up-and-coming young defensive tackles in the league. As a tandem, they were being discussed as a top five duo.

However, both seemed to regress a step or two in 2009. Neither played poorly, but it wasn't nearly the production we were all used to saying from the duo in '08. Everyone kept waiting to see the duo that stuffed Brandon Jacobs and Eli Manning on separate fourth down attempts, but those players never showed up.

And it's not just the run game. Neither guy has been able to get a consistent pass-rush up the middle since they first arrived as first-round picks, forcing Jim Johson/Sean McDermott to use an odd third-down package involving defensive ends playing on the inside.

It's a package that's highly susceptible to the run, and ideally would be avoided altogether. But in today's NFL, a pass-rush is simply too vital to leave Patterson and Bunkley on the field on obvious passing downs if they're not going to be able to get to the quarterback.

In 2010, the Eagles will need to get more of a pass-rush from the duo, first and foremost. They have shown that they are capable of playing the run and that will come back as the players around them get healthier and the talent increases, but they've never shown the ability to get a pass-rush.

That was mainly the idea behind drafting Bunkley. Patterson was a run-stuffer at USC and not expected to get an inside pass-rush, but that's why Bunkley was brought it. He always had a quick first step at Florida State and it figured to translate to the NFL. It hasn't, and now the Eagles are looking for answers.

Trevor Laws was drafted in the second round to provide an inside pass-rush, but that has been an absolute misfire as Laws has been a non-factor since day one.

Rotations, at every position, are all the rage in the NFL today, but a duo of two-down defensive tackles will kill this defense. If this unit is going to take the next step, they will need Bunkley and Patterson to provide more of a pass-rush.

Sacks aren't even necessary -- simply getting in the quarterbacks face will be enough.

Both Patterson and Bunkley can be top-flight, elite defensive tackles in this league, but they're going to have to show a commitment to taking that next step if they want to keep their jobs past next season.

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