FanPost

Debunking the "Eagles Have Great Defensive Tackles" Myth

Brodrickbunkley1a_medium

via z.about.com


     In the last half of the last decade the Eagles decided that they were going to completely upgrade the defensive tackle position.  During the four drafts from 2005 to 2008 the Eagles used the first pick that they possessed three times on DTs(Laws in 2008, Bunkley in 2006, and Patterson in 2005).  It seems that the Eagles had decided to have one of the best set of DTs in the league or die trying.
     Every time I read what beasts Mike Patterson and Brodrick Bunkley are on this site and elsewhere, I have to admit, I roll my eyes a little.  Now I'll be the first to admitt that both players are stout against the run, not spectacular but stout, but I see them as average at best as pass rushing tackles.  No, I take that back, below average.  Guys like Paul Grasmanis and Brandon Whiting were average and were able to get a combined 10 sacks in this same defense back in 2002 or Sam Rayburn who had 6 sacks in 2004.  The Williams Wall in Minnesota(Pat Williams and Kevin Williams) are renown for being stellar defenders against the run were somehow able to combine for 6 sacks in 2006, 6 sacks in 2007, 9.5 sacks in 2008, and 8 sacks in 2009.  How many sacks did Bunkley and Patterson combine for in 2009 ?  The answer is 2.5.  I don't know about you but I find that as unexceptable for two highly touted and drafted players.
     Now I've heard the argument, on may occasions, that the Eagles DTs are not asked to provide pass rush.  That they play a two gap system which requires the DTs to stay at home and wait to see what gap the running back is going to use and attack that gap thus slowing down any chance of creating any pass rush.  My questions with this are many.  One if Bunkley and Patterson are such beasts why do they get rotated out on almost every obvious passing down and still create little pass rush in the others?  Two how were other far less touted DTs able to create a pass rush in the same defensive system?  Three how, when you are sacrificing these two "beasts" to the run, were the Cowboys able to get 179 and 198 yards rushing agaist the Eagles in consecutive weeks last year?  Why did the Eagles chose to use there first pick in 2007 on Trevor Laws, a player we were told would be a disruptive pass ruher from the tackle position?
     I've also heard the argument that Patterson and Bunkley have vastly inferior talent playing behind them then past Eagles DTs.  Granted having a player like Trotter backing you up in run defense at linebacker can be liberating but remember, if you can, the Eagles also started players by the names of Mark Simoneau and Levon Kirkland at Middle Linebacker.  The Eagles were able to generate 19 sacks from the defensive tackle position in 2003 with starting LBs by the name of Mark Simoneau, Nate Wayne, and Carlos Emmons.  Emmons was good but the other two were dreck.  In 2002 the Eagles got 19.5 sacks from the tackles with Emmons,  Shawn Barber, and Levon Kirkland starting at linebacker.  Not a god awful linebacker crew not great either.  Do you really think I'm out of line to expect more from our defensive tackles than the 3.5 sacks they generated in 2009 or the 4.5 they got in 2008( 2 of those from Klecko)?
      Lets say that sack numbers can be deceptive, even the best DT the Eagles ever had Jerome Brown only had 1 sack in 1990.  The differance was that Brown was a disruptive force in both pass and rush defense.  He was consistantly in the offensive backfield and was a part of all those sacks that Reggie White and Clyde Simmons were able to get by collapsing the passing pocket from the inside.  We don't see the same thing today.  All of Bunkley and Patterson's plays happen at the line of scrimage and rarely do the opposing quarterbacks have to worry about the pocket collapsing without the blitz.
     I don't think I or other Eagles fans should be suprised or disappointed if the Eagles use their first pick in the upcoming draft on a player like Brian Price or Jared Odrick.  I think we've lived long without a good inside pass rush.
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