Mike Patterson and Brodrick Bunkley Must Dominate the Middle This Year

Mike BurkeCorrespondent IJuly 16, 2010

PITTSBURGH - AUGUST 26:  Brodrick Bunkley #97 of the Philadelphia Eagles celebrates against the Pittsburgh Steelers during the NFL preseason game on August 26, 2007 at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The Steelers defeated the Eagles 27 - 13. (Photo By Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

There has been a lot of focus around the defensive end position this off-season for the Eagles. We’ve seen some players leave, and we’ve seen a ton of new, young players come in. On the interior of the defensive line, there hasn’t been as much action and that has a lot to do with Mike Patterson and Brodrick Bunkley.

Both are players the Eagles drafted in the first and have high expectations for. At this point in their careers, both players should be entering their prime. The Eagles are hoping that this is the season the two really break out and prove they are a dominant force in the middle.

Although the back to back games with the Cowboys last year were devastating, they exposed a lot of areas the Eagles could focus on this off-season. On defense, the Eagles had a lot of trouble slowing down the Cowboys’ rushing attack and that all starts up front.

None of this is to say that the duo hasn’t been playing well, because I think they have been pretty solid. However, they aren’t considered to be one of the NFL’s dominant combination’s in the middle. This year, they need to fit that persona.

The Eagles have built their defense with a lot of speed, hoping to force teams to throw the ball so they can attack the passer. The only problem there is that you have to be able to stop the run first. Speed helps contain runners from getting outside, but it won’t stop them from pounding the middle.

Although they will need some linebacker support, Patterson and Bunkley have to be a force in the middle. This doesn’t necessarily mean they need to pile up a ton of tackles. However, if they can draw a blocker to double team them rather than go after a linebacker than that opens up someone else to make a play.

The Eagles invested a lot in Patterson and Bunkley and now it’s time to see a big return.