Four Defensive Players Who Need to Step Up for the Eagles in 2009
When we look at the Eagles, we often take some things for granted.
One is the potential of some of the players. Oftentimes, I say, "As long as this player plays this way, we should be fine."
However, things do not always work out that way.
On defense, there are no weaknesses, but there are a couple of question marks. With that in mind, I've made a list of four players who I think have the ability to step up their play to a higher level.
If these players do so, the Eagles' defense can go from good to scary.
A 2007 second-round pick out of defensive end, Abiamiri reminds some people of his former teammate Justin Tuck, who is now a force on the New York Giants' defensive line.
Abiamiri has been primarily better against the run, but he has the talent to become an every-down left end for the Eagles. If he can bring a consistent pass rush while being a wall against the run, the Eagles' defensive line could be one of the top five in the NFL.
I would love to see a seven- or eight-sack season from Abiamiri with some tackles for loss, as this would take a lot of pressure off of Trent Cole.
The time is right for a breakout season for this defensive end.
Bunkley was a disappointment initially, but he's improved his attitude, and really showed how big of an improvement he's made against the Giants in the playoffs last season.
Bunkley was stout against the run—now he has to improve his pass rush, which was thought to be Bunkley's strength when he was drafted in the first round out of Florida State.
This offseason, he has been working on his speed, and hopefully that will translate into five or six sacks from the inside.
Gocong is another player who was a feared pass rusher (as a defensive end) in college, but has not seen that skill translate to the NFL yet.
If he can generate more pressure on blitzes and be a consistent force, it will allow the Eagles to be really creative with their blitz packages.
Gocong is already solid against the run; he just needs to improve his pass rushing ability.
One couldn't ask to be in a better position than Demps.
There are two ways to look at it: he could tell himself that he has the impossible job of filling the shoes of a Hall of Famer, or he can look at it as an opportunity to be an impact player in an exciting defense on a Super Bowl-caliber team in just his second year.
The talent is there. Demps led the NCAA in interceptions while in college, and he combines 4.4 speed with a solid frame (similar to Brian Dawkins) ideal for the free safety position.
If he can avoid mental lapses while in coverage, Demps has the potential to be similar to Baltimore Ravens' safety Ed Reed.
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