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Eagles Defenders Ready for Pro Bowl

By: Nick Popyack

[Have a comment? Click the title of this article and go crazy!]

       With all the moves that have been made on the offensive side of the ball this offseason, it’s easy to get excited about the big play potential of the Eagles offense. The Eagles signed two physical and athletic offensive linemen, a big blocking fullback and, on draft day, drafted a wide receiver, running back, and tight end with their first three picks.

       So much attention has been given to the offense that many are overlooking the defense, a unit that happened to be the best in the NFC last year. The Eagles’ D was incredible last year, allowing less than 275 yards and just over 18 points per game. Though they lost Brian Dawkins in free agency, the defense is returning the other 10 of 11 starters, and they seem ready to pick up where they left off. Several Eagles defenders even look like they’re ready for their first trip to the Pro Bowl.

       Broderick Bunkley had a great year helping anchor the defensive line along side Mike Patterson. He was a huge force in the middle and really picked up his game at the end of the year when he naturally should have been tired. His play against the Giants in their playoff game was crucial to the Eagles success. He was right in the middle of two late 4th down attempts by the Giants, and both were stopped by that force up front. Bunkley is ready for a break-out year.

       Stewart Bradley had a huge year, starting every game in his second year and totaling 108 tackles, 86 of which were solo tackles. One thing that comes to my mind every time I see Bradley play is how much he reminds me of Brian Urlacher. They have very similar size, with Urlacher being 6’4”, 258 lbs and Bradley being 6’4”, 255 lbs. Urlacher is best known for making tackle after tackle, something that Bradley did quite well in his first season as a starter. He’s a big, strong tackling machine who looks like he’s ready for a trip to Hawa- oh, wait. The Pro Bowl’s in Miami this year. Nevermind.

       The last player I feel will be a Pro Bowl force on defense in ’09 is Quintin Mikell. Unlike Bradley and Bunkley, Mikell actually made the AP All-Pro second team defense, the only Eagle to do so in ’08. This is perhaps an even higher honor than the Pro Bowl, as it is comprised of less players, it includes players from both conferences, and it is made by members of the national press, not the fans. ‘Q’ was a force on special teams before he ever made it to the starting lineup, but has handled the transition swimmingly. Without being overshadowed by Brian Dawkins [though I’m sure nobody was complaining about Dawk’s presence], he will emerge as the top safety on the team and perhaps one of the best in the league. Pretty high expectations for someone who wasn’t drafted.

       The past few months have been all about offense, but the defense will emerge as the dominant unit on the Philadelphia Eagles in 2009. Though the defense flourishes as a group, there are several individuals that have performed at a level that should be recognized on a national level with a trip to the Pro Bowl. Broderick Bunkley, Stewart Bradley and Quintin Mikell haven’t been to a Pro Bowl before, but 2009 is their year. They won’t disappoint come gameday.


1 comment:

  1. How much will the Birds miss Jim Johnson? Sure, they're the same players and the coach has plenty of experience in this system so the style will remain the same. But one thing JJ can do is make adjustments and keep the players on the same page when things are going wrong. Will they repsond the same without him? One indicator might be the playoff game against Arizona - ugh! They looked like a bunch of impostors out there.

    Let's hope Jim is back on the sideline soon.