The other day we took on the status of the Eagles defensive end position, and the results weren’t pretty. Now it’s time to look at the Eagles defensive tackle breakdown, and unfortunately it’s not looking much better.
Here’s how they look:
Mike Patterson – This guy went on the Corey Simon diet plan but unfortunately having an ass big enough to get its own area code isn’t a good thing if you still get pushed around. Patterson spends more time on his back than the girls at the Moonlight Bunny ranch. That would almost be OK if he was finding a way to get to the quarterback. Coming out of USC Patterson was an undersized but talented tackle with pass rush skills so no one expected him to be a Hall of Fame run stuffer. But with a grand total of four, that’s right, 4, sacks over the past three seasons, it’s hard to believe anyone ever mentioned Patterson and pass rusher in the same sentence without including the words ‘not if his life depended on it’ in there. No one really expects him to put up Sapp numbers but he doesn’t even get close. Really, it’s not even the sack totals that are the problem, it’s the fact that the only time he generates pressure is what he builds up after hitting Taco Bell.
Brodrick Bunkley – Luckily Bunkley hasn’t devolved into a weeble wobble like Patterson, but his vaunted inside pass rush skills can’t even make the guy jealous. Bunkley doesn’t get manhandled or pushed around much but he has turned failing to get to the quarterback into an art form. In 2010, he had zero sacks. That’s zero as in none. Over his 5-year career he has a grand total of six sacks. You’d think he would trip and fall into a quarterback more than six times when considering he’s built like a rhinoceros. Again, no one expects Reggie White sack totals from a defensive tackle, or anything close, but like Patterson Bunkley barely makes any impact at all when he’s supposed to be a disruptive force, sacks be damned. He seems to try hard and it’s likely he doesn’t enjoy being ineffective but enough is enough with this guy. Like Hugh Douglas once said, it’s do or die baby.
Trevor Laws – Even with two well paid first round picks on the roster, the Eagles chose to use their first pick in the 2008 draft (number 46 overall, three ahead of DeSean Jackson) on yet another defensive tackle, even though only two can play at a time. The Eagles in essence sacrificed drafting a potential starter at another position in order to take a backup — or else they knew one of their current starters needed to be replaced. Unfortunately, the best laid plans of mice, men, and Andy Reid don’t always work out and Laws has done nothing except disappoint. Not only did he not displace one of Patterson or Bunkley, it’s been rumored he was on the chopping block after only two seasons. Last year in his third campaign he managed to rack up four sacks and show a small flash of potential, but he still looks like a career backup at best.
Anotonio Dixon – Finally, a bright spot. Undrafted out of school in 2009 and then cut by the Redskins, the Eagles picked up the line clogger and turned him into a decent NFL player. Dixon will never be a pass rusher but that’s not his role. At 6-3 and around 330 pounds he’s expected to dominate the line of scrimmage and keep guys off the linebackers. He doesn’t have elite talent but Dixon looks just good enough to be a solid option. Dixon would be even more effective if he was paired with another tackle who could actually play.
Jeremy Clark – After initially signing with the Eagles as an undrafted free agent in 2007, Clark has bounced around the NFL, playing at various times for the New York Giants, Atlanta Falcons, Arizona Cardinals, Dallas Cowboys and Washington Redskins. It’s extremely unlikely he makes the team and is at best a camp body.
Jeff Owens – A seventh-round pick out of Georgia in the 2010 draft, Owens is a hard worker without much talent. It’s unlikely he has the skills to make it with the Eagles even with the dearth of talent at the position.
Ladies and gentlemen, that’s it. And with no 2011 draft pick exercised at the position the Eagles will need to rely on free agency to secure an upgrade.
FREE AGENT TARGETS:
Brandon Mebane, Seahawks – Probably a better overall player than Patterson or Bunkley, but like them he’s not a true disruptive force. Mebane is a solid player who is young enough to still have upside, but his skills are more in his stoutness rather than his pass rush ability.
Aubrayo Franklin, 49ers – A good if not great player, Franklin will get paid simply due to his skills as a line clogging nose in the 3-4. He’s probably talented enough to play in the 4-3, especially with a line coach like Jim Washburn but after playing eight seasons at the point it’s likely he’ll be overpaid by a 3-4 team. Then again, with the Eagles constantly drafting defensive ends more suited to play in the 3-4, it’s possible they’ll use the same approach to the tackle spot.
Barry Cofield, Giants – He’s played in Perry Fewell’s Giants defense that mixes Cover 2 with an aggressive attack, something the Eagles are likely to do more of with Juan Castillo and Jim Washburn in place, so that makes him attractive. Cofield isn’t a game changer but he’s solid if unspectacular. An improvement over what they have but maybe not enough for the Eagles to be willing to outbid someone for him in a crazy market.
Pat Williams, Vikings – At one time a true force in the middle but at 38 it’s debatable how much he has left in the tank. It’s unlikely he would accept the lowball offer the Eagles like to to occasionally make to older vets to use as depth. He’s not 2011’s Kimo Von Oelhoffen.
Albert Haynesworth, Redskins – The ultimate boom or bust. Haynesworth could be as good as he wants to be but at this point after milking the idiot Redskins for mid-8 figures he probably doesn’t really care either way. If his former coach in Tennessee Jim Washburn can get in his head Haynesworth could be exactly what the Eagles need – a force in the middle to free up the ‘fastballs’ on the outside. And the team is obviously not shy in taking a chance on guys with horrible personal character so don’t discount this move being a possibility, assuming the Redskins actually cut him.
Unfortunately for the Eagles, there really isn’t a surefire stud available that could come in and dominate the middle. As it stands they are very average across the lineup, but if Antonio Dixon can continue his surprising development and Washburn can coach up the to-date underachieving but well paid trio of Patterson, Bunkley, and Laws, at least the position won’t be a complete failure.
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