NFC East: Brodrick Bunkley

Quick Take: Saints at Eagles

December, 30, 2013
ARLINGTON, Texas -- Three things to know about next Saturday's New Orleans Saints-Philadelphia Eagles wild-card playoff game at Lincoln Financial Field:

1. Unsteady Brees: It has often been said the Saints are a different team at home and on the road, but really, Drew Brees is a different quarterback. In seven home games before Sunday, Brees threw 23 touchdowns and three interceptions. His passer rating was 122.5. On the road, Brees has thrown 12 touchdowns and nine interceptions with a passer rating of 84.8. Brees averaged almost two more yards per attempt at home than on the road.

New Orleans’ defense is actually a bit better on the road. The Saints have eight interceptions and 26 sacks on the road and had three picks and 21 sacks in the Superdome before Sunday.

2. Subplots and storylines: The game will draw huge ratings in Philadelphia, New Orleans and Austin, Texas. Brees and Eagles quarterback Nick Foles went to Austin’s Westlake High School a decade apart. Foles broke Brees’ school records for touchdowns in a season and a career and yards in a game and career. Brees held on to the mark for passing yards in a season.

Saints head coach Sean Payton and assistant head coach Joe Vitt were both assistants on Ray Rhodes’ Eagles staff. Vitt coached linebackers from 1995 to 1998, while Payton coached quarterbacks in ’97 and ’98.

Saints defensive tackle Brodrick Bunkley was the Eagles’ first-round draft pick in 2006. As a rookie, he played against the Saints in a divisional playoff game. The Saints won, 27-24.

Back in the 1980s, Buddy Ryan was head coach of the Eagles. Bill Davis, who had been an assistant on Dick Vermeil’s staff, was a personnel guy. They didn’t exactly get along, and Davis left in 1989.

Almost a quarter-century later, their sons are first-year defensive coordinators for the Saints and Eagles. Rob Ryan has done a dramatic job revamping the Saints' defense. New Orleans was worst in the NFL in yardage and points allowed in 2012. The Saints are fourth in yards and fifth in points under Ryan. Davis has engineered a transition to the 3-4 that has the Eagles playing markedly better defense in the second half of the season. The Eagles have held 10 of their past 11 opponents to 21 or fewer points.

3. Graham cracking: In Jimmy Graham, the Saints have arguably the most dangerous tight end in the league. The Eagles have had mixed success against tight ends this season.

San Diego’s Antonio Gates caught eight passes for 124 yards, but that was early in the season, before Davis’ unit hit its stride. Just last week, Chicago’s Martellus Bennett caught five balls for 85 yards. Tampa Bay’s Timothy Wright caught seven passes for 91 yards.

Going into Sunday night, tight ends have caught an average of 4.3 passes for 52.7 yards per game against the Eagles this season. Jason Witten had 12 catches for 135 yards for the Cowboys on Sunday.
If we are to believe that the Browns are offering quarterback Colt McCoy for a sixth-round or seventh-round draft pick, the only thing I can think is, "Why haven't the Philadelphia Eagles already done this?"

We have discussed the Eagles' frightening backup quarterback situation at length here. Their current plan is to go into the season with Mike Kafka, Trent Edwards and Nick Foles as the backup quarterbacks to Michael Vick, who has only once played a full 16-game season. Neither Foles (who was just drafted in April) nor Edwards played in the NFL last year. Kafka has thrown 16 NFL passes. Now, I'm not saying McCoy is the be-all, end-all here, but he's started 21 more NFL games than Kafka or Foles have combined, and surely he'd be an upgrade over Edwards in that experienced-veteran-backup slot. He's also 25 years old, and it's not out of the realm of possibility that he could grow into a starting-caliber quarterback at some point. He's got experience in the West Coast offense. The Browns' front office and the Eagles' front office are friends. I'm pretty sure the Eagles have an extra late-round 2013 pick from the Brodrick Bunkley trade. This seems to make too much sense not to happen.

And maybe it will. But it hasn't yet, and if it doesn't it could mean that the Eagles are sold on Kafka as a worthwhile backup in his third year in their system. It's not completely crazy to think he is. The reason we doubt it is that we haven't seen it, and what we have seen of Kafka has been uninspiring. But if the Eagles believe that third year of development is the key one (and remember, he didn't have an offseason of coaching last year due to the lockout), they may be looking at Kafka differently than we on the outside are.

They also saw something in Edwards they liked when they tried him out, and he too has West Coast offense experience. He's three years older than McCoy is, though, and the feeling seems to have been that either he or Kafka would be cut before the season. (Foles obviously won't be cut, since they just picked him.) If they traded a pick for McCoy, the Eagles would have to get rid of Edwards and Kafka (likely trading Kafka) or carry four quarterbacks. And it's possible they don't want to carry four quarterbacks.

So I don't know. McCoy to the Eagles for a late-round pick makes sense to me, and I think they should do it yesterday. But it also seems like the kind of thing that would have happened by now if it were going to happen, and it looks as though the Eagles aren't as worried about backup quarterback as their fans are.

Eagles trade Bunkley to Broncos

August, 1, 2011
The Philadelphia Eagles traded defensive tackle Brodrick Bunkley to the Denver Broncos for an undisclosed draft pick in 2013. Bunkley had reportedly been traded to the Cleveland Browns over the weekend.

The Eagles also waived receiver Keith Carlos.

Both moves were announced in a team release.
Bit of a slow day on the free-agent front. Unless you're the Eagles, that is. But all of our teams are practicing now, and there are things happening. So we ask, as we have at the end of each night this week: How was your day ...

Dallas Cowboys?

"Patient." No, the fans aren't patient, but the Cowboys are. They still need those two safeties. But they began the day with the news that they were bringing in Kenyon Coleman for the defensive line, and they haven't reacted to the Eagles' spree by doing anything rash. No one could reasonably look back over this week and claim it's been a very good one for the Cowboys. And Saturday saw a bunch of lousy things happen that had nothing to do with the Eagles and all of their good fortune. They've got injuries all over the place, from running back (DeMarco Murray and Tashard Choice) to punter (Mat McBriar) to linebacker (Keith Brooking) to wide receivers coach (Jimmy Robinson, who was knocked unconscious during a special teams drill and briefly hospitalized). Their salary cap issues have forced them to go slower than they'd prefer to go in free agency. But Jerry Jones spoke Saturday about the mistakes of offseasons past, and listening to that, maybe it's not a bad idea to be a little bit patient for a change.

New York Giants?

"Refreshing." The Giants got back to work on the practice field Saturday, holding their first practice of training camp. The Giants are having evening practices only this year. Tom Coughlin likes evening practices, so when they told him he couldn't have two-a-days anymore as a result of the new labor deal, he scrapped the morning practices and kept the evening ones. Said he wanted to use the daytime for meetings and film, since they were so far behind on installations due to the lockout. Coughlin likes to work, and getting the players on the field with the coaches at long last could help distract the Giants from the apparent fact that Plaxico Burress was only using them to drum up interest from other teams and that they still haven't come to agreements with Ahmad Bradshaw, Kevin Boss and Steve Smith, let alone the free-agent linebacker they need. They picked up veteran guard Chris White to add to their offensive line depth. And they did score a victory in their ongoing dispute with Osi Umenyiora over his contract, as Umenyiora decided to show up. Seems as though he'll keep expressing his displeasure, but that he's not going to actually do anything about it because he really can't. So that's a little victory, even if what was happening with the team down I-95 was a little bit more spectacular.

Philadelphia Eagles?

"Celebratory." The Eagles were already the talk of the league Saturday in the wake of their surprise Nnamdi Asomugha signing, and they surprised again with the announcement that they'd signed free-agent defensive lineman Cullen Jenkins. They traded Brodrick Bunkley to the Browns for a fifth-round pick and to save about $2 million in salary cap space so they could keep hunting for linebacker help, offensive line help, maybe Burress and possibly look into new deals for DeSean Jackson and/or Michael Vick. So in the past three days they've added Asomugha, Jason Babin, Jenkins, Vince Young, Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, a second-round pick, a fifth-round pick and a little bit of helpful cap room. No wonder the fans of the other three teams are jealous.

Washington Redskins?

"Quiet, again." Nothing, really, out of Ashburn for the second day in a row. The Redskins were having the busiest week of any team in the division until Friday, and now they have fallen silent. Nothing new on the hunt for a right guard. Some whispers that they're after Braylon Edwards, but nothing solid on that yet. (Though I do think it'd be a nice signing.) Just some calm, quiet practices where everybody's passed their conditioning tests and they're working on putting together a decent defense. The Redskins will make some news again this off-season, but remember -- they're rebuilding for the future, and are maybe the one team one this list for whom patience shouldn't be a frustrating attribute right now.

Me, my day was all right. Slept a little bit later than I had been, went for a nice five-mile run, lunch with the family, watched a little baseball. Busy, but not as all-hours, wall-to-wall busy as the week had been. More to come tomorrow, I'm sure, and then Monday I'll be on location from Redskins camp as I begin my training camp tour. So it was nice to get an hour here and an hour there to relax a bit Saturday.

How about you. How was your day?
Hold onto your pig-shaped hats, Redskins fans, because you just might not believe this. According to a study by our pals at Pro Football Focus, Albert Haynesworth ranks as the third-best 4-3 defensive tackle in the NFL over the past three years:
Fair to say things haven’t gone exactly to plan in Washington for the former Titan. Staggeringly though, when he’s been on the field he continues to be as good a DT as there is out there (even though he may be as scrutinized a defensive player as there is). Despite the pretty low sack totals in Washington, in his first year there, he was a top five defensive tackle and not that far off his best year. Even last year he generated pressure in the sub package defense. If you can get him playing his best then he’s a bargain whatever the price.

The key phrase here, of course, is "when he's been on the field." Frankly, I'm a little bit amazed Haynesworth even qualified for the list, since it required players to play "50% of the average snap total of the five highest in that department in the past three years." But his presence on the list underscores the shame of what's gone on in Washington with Haynesworth, who just turned 30 last month and really should have been a difference-making force for the Redskins over the past two seasons.

It also illustrates the reason Haynesworth will be in some demand when the Redskins take him out on the trade market once the lockout ends. There are defensive coordinators and line coaches out there who are convinced they can coach something out of Haynesworth and who are salivating at the idea of bringing him in at a discount and getting some semblance of the guy who dominated in Tennessee in 2008. One of those line coaches is former Titans line coach Jim Washburn, now with the Eagles, who's no doubt sure he can make something special out of Haynesworth. I'm betting Mike Shanahan agrees, which is why I can't imagine any scenario under which the Redskins trade Big Al to Philadelphia.

But he'll go somewhere, and he'll probably play very well wherever it is, giving Redskins fans another reason to pull their hair out.

Incidentally, Philadelphia's Brodrick Bunkley ranks seventh on this list for his run-stopping ability alone. And Seattle's Brandon Mebane is sixth, which is noteworthy because he's going to be a free agent and will be very high on the wish list of 4-3 teams looking for interior defensive line help.
Our position-by-position series on potential four-year unrestricted free agency in the NFC East took the weekend off, but it's back, baby, and better than ever with a look at the defensive tackle position.

NFC East teams in need

Redskins: Not sure if you heard or not, but Albert Haynesworth balked last year at the idea of playing nose tackle in Jim Haslett's new 3-4 defense. And since they weren't able to find a non-Haynesworth answer in 2010, the Skins remain on the lookout for someone who can fill that crucial role on their defensive line. Haslett's scheme puts a premium on versatility, which means he likes to be able to shift the defensive linemen around depending on the play and the responsibilities it requires. But that said, a big, dominant nose tackle would be a nice anchor for the pieces that are still being put in place.

[+] EnlargeAubrayo Franklin
AP Photo/Paul SakumaIf the Redskins want to spend the money, Aubrayo Franklin would be a nice fit for their 3-4 defense.
Giants: Linebacker remains a bigger need, but if the Giants don't bring back free agent Barry Cofield, they may need to add someone at this spot. Linval Joseph (2010 draft pick) and Marvin Austin (2011 draft pick) represent (the Giants hope) their future at the defensive tackle spot. But unless you're Ndamukong Suh, it takes a little while to develop into a top-flight NFL talent on the interior of the defensive line. If Cofield leaves, the Giants cold use some veteran help there.

Eagles: Antonio Dixon is an emerging star, and the team believes new defensive line coach Jim Washburn will coach improvement out of Brodrick Bunkley, Mike Patterson and Trevor Laws. I don't get the sense that Philadelphia considers this a position of need, though there has been some noise about Washburn wanting to reunite with Haynesworth, who was a star for him when both were in Tennessee.

Top five potential unrestricted free-agent defensive tackles.

1. Aubrayo Franklin. The top available 3-4 nose tackle in this class, Franklin would be a perfect fit for Washington and is almost certainly at the very top of its wish list. The 49ers will attempt to keep him, but the Redskins have money to spend.

2. Cofield. It's unclear what the Giants intend to do about Cofield, who believes the drafting of Austin is a sign that they plan to move on. It could be, or it could have been just a way to give them coverage in case he leaves and some leverage in their contract negotiations. With Mathias Kiwanuka and offensive keys such as Ahmad Bradshaw, Steve Smith and Kevin Boss needing new deals, the Giants will have to make some tough choices, and parting ways with Cofield could be one of them.

3. Brandon Mebane. A 4-3 run-stopper who showed enough as a pass-rusher to play on three downs in Seattle last year, Mebane will have to prove his legs are fully healthy. But assuming he does, he'll be right there with Cofield as 4-3 teams look to beef up inside.

4. Anthony Adams. He might not be on the open market for very long. The Bears' decision to cut teammate Tommie Harris in March was likely tied to their efforts to re-sign their best run-stuffing defensive lineman.

5. Pat Williams. He's 38 years old and this time last year was talking retirement. But there's no doubt that the longtime Vikings star could help a contending team that could put him into a rotation that would ease the burden on his body. You also have to think he could help as a mentor for young defensive linemen. At the right cost, he might fit what the Eagles or Giants are looking for, if those teams do end up looking for defensive tackle help.

Predictions that mean nothing: Redskins sign Franklin, Giants bring back Cofield, Eagles add a cheaper veteran such as Williams (if he's cheap) or Remi Ayodele.

Breaking down the DLs: Philadelphia

April, 19, 2011
Scouts Inc.'s Matt Williamson examines the defensive lines of each NFC East team. Today: Philadelphia Eagles.

Trent Cole is one of the very best defensive ends in football. He is a tremendous all-around player. But he did wear down as the season progressed. A year ago leading into the draft, the Eagles obviously fell in love with Brandon Graham, trading up quite a ways to land him to complement Cole. I remain very high on Graham, but he did have an up-and-down rookie year and ended the season with a serious knee injury. If the knee comes around quickly, Graham might be the ideal bookend to Cole.

Maybe adding one more end -- a guy with size - makes sense here as insurance for Graham and to help spell Cole. Juqua Parker also is an all-around defensive end who played really well for the Eagles’ in 2010. But he wore down late in the season, too. In fact, Philadelphia recorded just 15 sacks in its final eight games. Darryl Tapp also could figure in as a part-time player, preferably using his pass-rush ability off the edge. Adding one more end could leave restricted free agent Victor Abiamiri as the odd man out.

The Eagles are loaded at defensive tackle. Mike Patterson is built low to the ground and is difficult to move in the run game. He also has some quickness. But Patterson has just four sacks in three seasons and won’t contribute much on passing downs. Brodrick Bunkley has a lot of ability and can contribute well in both phases, but he also could step up his game. Trevor Laws has been a solid contributor since joining the team and could be ready to take the next step forward. But the player who has just demanded playing time is Antonio Dixon. He is an animal versus the run and also has the athletic ability and quickness to develop more as a pass-rushing force. If you don’t yet know about Dixon, it is time you learned.

This line -- Bunkley and Graham in particular -- also should benefit from the addition of new defensive line coach Jim Washburn, who comes over from Tennessee. But Philadelphia is already stacked up front, and I was tempted to rank them ahead of the Giants.

Scouts Inc. watches games, breaks down film and studies football from all angles for

Monday Afternoon Blitz Package

October, 25, 2010
ARLINGTON, Texas -- As we prepare for tonight's "Monday Night Football" showdown between the New York Giants and Dallas Cowboys, here are a few observations about the two teams that played Sunday. The Redskins and Eagles have identical records (4-3), but they don't have the same mindset today:

Philadelphia Eagles
  • There's no excuse for giving up 27 fourth-quarter points to the Tennessee Titans -- even when the great Kenny Britt's involved. Eagles coach Andy Reid took up for defensive coordinator Sean McDermott during his news conference earlier today. Reid said he thought McDermott had a "heck of a game plan, doggone it." Unfortunately, that game plan didn't include any answers for Britt, the former Rutgers star who was bouncing back from a bar fight Friday. Reid said he understood why McDermott couldn't simply put his best cornerback, Asante Samuel, on Britt to stop the bleeding. But the explanation didn't really hold water. Nate Allen and Ellis Hobbs had no chance against the speedy Britt, so McDermott should've tried something different. McDermott's a talented young coach, but he deserves all the heat he's taking in Philly today.
  • A lot of us picked Brandon Graham to be the rookie defensive player of the year, but he's not showing up a lot on film. Graham appeared on the injury list with an illness and ankle problem. Maybe that explains why he was only on the field for 18 snaps. This is way too early in the season for Graham to be hitting some type of rookie wall, so this is a situation that bears watching. The Eagles need Graham to be more consistent.
  • Defensive tackle Antonio Dixon had the best game of his career. You wondered if there would be some fall off when Brodrick Bunkley suffered an elbow surgery, but Dixon continues to raise his level of play. He was on the field for much of the game Sunday and he responded with seven tackles, a sack and two tackles for a loss. Dixon was a big reason the Eagles did a nice job against Chris Johnson. He's too quick for some of the enormous guards in this league. I don't see his playing time going down a bit once Bunkley returns.
  • You hate to single out center Mike McGlynn, but he sort of made it easy. McGlynn was man enough to claim responsibility for that fumble on the Titans' 3-yard line that turned the game around. Jason Jones was apparently his man on the play. Sometimes a defense can do things to confuse an offensive lineman, but there's really no excuse for not accounting for Jones. He didn't do anything that tricky -- other than basically taking a handoff from Kevin Kolb. Just an awful mental mistake at the most crucial point in Sunday's game.
Washington Redskins
  • If I'm Mike Shanahan, film of that loss to the Lions from '09 is playing on a continuous loop at Redskins Park. This is the ultimate trap game with the bye week followed by a rematch with the Eagles. The Skins had a letdown against the Rams earlier this season. The Lions are a similar team to the Rams. If you allow them to hang around for a little while, there's a decent chance you'll take the loss. This is no time for the Skins to feel all that great about themselves. Yes, the four wins are impressive when you take last season into consideration. But a loss to the Lions on Sunday would be pretty difficult to overcome.
  • Make Ryan Torain carry a football around campus all week. Torain has emerged as a dynamic player for an offense that's short on playmakers. But he can't fumble the ball in the red zone -- or anywhere else for that matter. I remember hearing about former Rams and 49ers running back Wendell Tyler being presented with a football that had a handle on it. That's the kind of gag gift that might grab Torain's attention this week. But if Torain will secure the football, he has a chance to have a big-time season. Like I told you during training camp, Torain and Arian Foster are going to be huge. Wait, did I forget to actually put that in print?
  • It's time to cue the Rocky music in Ashburn, Va. If Rocky McIntosh plays like that on a regular basis, the Redskins will have a formidable defense. McIntosh looked so much more comfortable in Jim Haslett's defense Sunday, and I think he's ready to do that on a consistent basis. I'm trying not to overreact to all these standout performances on defense because of the Jay Cutler factor, but it's tough.
  • Speaking of standout performances... Albert Haynesworth was brilliant in Sunday's game. The play he made to stand up Cutler at the goal line turned the game around for the Skins. When Haynesworth's at his best, he's unblockable. Haslett has done a nice job of making Haynesworth feel like he's in the Titans' defense. If not for the play of DeAngelo Hall, Haynesworth would've been the defensive MVP. By the way, can we go ahead and give the NFC Defensive Player of the Week award to DeAngelo Hall?

DeSean Jackson: In Kolb we trust

October, 13, 2010
Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver DeSean Jackson doesn't seem worried that his numbers are down this season when quarterback Kevin Kolb's in the lineup. During his weekly appearance on Comcast SportsNet's "Daily News Live," Jackson praised Kolb's performance against the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday night.

"We have confidence in him. ... I think he came in and did a good job, especially after all the hype with [Michael] Vick," said Jackson.

Jackson and Kolb haven't hit their stride this season, and some folks have based that on the quarterback not being able to extend plays long enough for Jackson to come free. In a blog entry Tuesday morning, I brought up the fact that Jackson had a couple of big games with Kolb last season.

In other Eagles news, former Stanford defensive end Panell Egboh has been added to the practice squad. Egboh was claimed by the Eagles on Aug. 31 and he had a sack and forced fumble in the team's preseason finale. The 49ers signed him as an undrafted rookie in '09 and he spent some time on the Texans' practice squad last season.

With the loss of defensive tackle Brodrick Bunkley, it's likely the Eagles are trying to create some depth along the line.

The Beast Knee-Jerk Report

October, 11, 2010
Let's take a quick spin around the division this morning and see if there are any overreactions to Sunday's games:

  • Did Chris Johnson pose on the Cowboys' star? David Moore of the Dallas Morning News says the Titans running back ran to midfield and posed on the star like Terrell Owens once did when he played for the 49ers. I only saw Johnson pose in the end zone Sunday.

Wrap-up: Eagles 35, Lions 32

September, 19, 2010
What it means: The Philadelphia Eagles overcame a 17-7 deficit to beat the Lions 35-32 on the road. We still don't know what to make of this team, but it was good to see them overcome some adversity to get to 1-1. This offensive line is an absolute mess, so it's not like Kevin Kolb will return to a calm situation. And his backup's solid performance isn't going to make it any easier.

Tomorrow's talker: Kolb remains the starter, but everyone will be talking about Michael Vick's performance. He won this game for the Eagles. Even though the Lions sacked him several times, he extended a lot of plays with his legs and delivered excellent passes. Vick never lost his poise and tried to press things when the Eagles fell behind. He played like the veteran quarterback he is and that's why he'll be a starter somewhere in the NFL next season. Should he remain the starter for the Eagles? I don't think so.

Goat: Once left tackle Jason Peters suffered an ankle injury, the Eagles were in a world of hurt up front. Kolb can move around but he obviously won't be able to race around as much as Vick. I think everyone on defense deserves some blame for Lions rookie Jahvid Best having such a huge day. I noticed Brodrick Bunkley getting stopped at the line of scrimmage a time or two and it looked like Omar Gaither had a tough time shedding blockers on some of those Best runs and catches.

What I didn't like: The Eagles fell asleep at the wheel with a big lead. Good teams don't let that happen. The Lions have enough talent at the skill positions to make some big plays and the Eagles should have shut the door.

What's next: If you can beat the Jaguars on the road to get to 2-1, then you have the huge Donovan McNabb homecoming the following weekend. All eyes will be on Kevin Kolb this week as he prepares to relaunch his season. Hopefully he has put that first half out of his mind.

McDermott embracing 3-4 scheme?

May, 13, 2010
The Eagles hosted a media session featuring some of their coaches earlier this week. Les Bowen of the Daily News has a really nice summary of what took place. And yes, defensive coordinator Sean McDermott admitted that he might use a 3-4 scheme at times. The 4-3 will still be the Eagles' base defense, but it would be interesting to see it change from time to time.
"The prime information there was that McDermott acknowledged what we've all been speculating on -- as he tries to find ways to use all his new personnel, he is thinking of doing more with 3-4 looks," writes Bowen. "The Eagles' base defense will remain, but they've shown 3-4 here and there in the past, and that tendency very well might increase. The biggest obstacle would seem to be the lack of a true 3-4-style, monster nose tackle. McDermott said he thought Brodrick Bunkley could fill the bill, and he noted that Antonio Dixon is "320 and rising."

The Eagles don't have the prototypical linebackers for a 3-4, but there's no reason they can't have some success with the scheme if used in spots.

Eagles' new LB Sims touts versatility

April, 19, 2010
I just hopped off a conference call with the newest member of the Eagles' linebacking corps, Ernie Sims. As ESPN's Adam Schefter reported this morning, the former Lions linebacker came over in a three-way trade involving Detroit and Denver. Sims, the No. 9 overall pick for the Lions in '06, said he played both the strong and weakside spots over the past four seasons.

His '09 season was interrupted by shoulder and hamstring injuries, but Sims indicated Monday that he's fully recovered. The trade caught him by surprise, but as you might expect, he's excited to be joining a perennial playoff team. Asked what spot he'd fill in Sean McDermott's 4-3 scheme, Sims said he could "play all three of them."

He primarily played the weakside spot for the Lions, but he said Jim Schwartz's defense required him to switch sides depending on certain looks. He does have some experience lining up over the tight end, but he's not known for his coverage skills. At 6-foot, 230 pounds, Sims relies on speed to make a lot of tackles. He immediately gives the Eagles more depth at linebacker and it's likely he'll compete with Akeem Jordan for a starting role.

Sims has some familiarity with the Eagles because he's stayed in touch with his former Florida State teammate, Brod Bunkley. He described his '09 season as "fluky" because of the injuries and the new coaching staff. It's obvious that he's excited about the opportunity to have a fresh start. It's not like Sims was a complete bust in Detroit. He was a team captain and he made a lot of tackles. But he wasn't a great fit for Schwartz's defense because of his lack of size.

Sims said he reported for work Monday at the Lions' facility just like any other day. And that's when he received the news he'd been traded. The Eagles gave up a fifth-round draft pick for a guy who was once considered a top-10 talent. On the surface, it looks like a pretty good risk to take. It's not like they were expecting to find a starting linebacker in the fifth.

Beast scores heavily at Senior Bowl ('05-'09)

January, 28, 2010
One of the first things you learn when covering the Senior Bowl from 642 miles away is to always have a phone number handy for ESPN Stats & Information guru Alok Pattani. On Wednesday morning, I commissioned a study on how many players drafted by NFC East teams over the past five years participated in the Senior Bowl.

The numbers have obviously dipped in recent years because of all of the underclassmen coming out, but the Senior Bowl is still an important part of the evaluation process -- especially for the Philadelphia Eagles. Here's the breakdown from 2005-09:

In 2005, the first six players selected by NFC East teams were all on Senior Bowl rosters. In 2009, only three of the first 11 players picked by NFC East teams participated in Senior Bowl week. As we've already stated, this probably has a lot to do with the spike in underclassmen entering the draft. These players are not eligible for the "Senior" Bowl. We're also seeing some of the big-time seniors sit out the Senior Bowl because they feel like there's more to lose than to gain. That's why I admire a player like USC safety Taylor Mays showing up and competing in Mobile, Ala., this week.

For a somewhat unheralded player such as Idaho offensive lineman Mike Iupati, the Senior Bowl can provide a rare opportunity to compete against athletes from larger schools. Iupati has had a breakout week and some draft experts, including our own Todd McShay, think he could go in the first round.

Over the past five seasons, nine of the 17 first-round picks in the NFC East were on the Senior Bowl roster. That list includes DeMarcus Ware, Jason Campbell, Brodrick Bunkley, Mathias Kiwanuka and Anthony Spencer. Over the past few years, the Eagles have been pretty shrewd when it comes to identifying and tracking players who participated in the Senior Bowl:

Here's a great Excel spreadsheet if you're interested in finding out which players from the NFC East have participated in the Senior Bowl over the past five years. In 2009, the Giants selected linebacker Clint Sintim (Virginia) and offensive tackle Will Beatty (Connecticut) in the second round and Ramses Barden (Cal Poly) in the third. All three players participated in the Senior Bowl. And at least two of the players -- Beatty and Sintim -- could be starting in 2010.

Eagles-Cowboys: My prediction

January, 8, 2010
In an interesting development, seven of our eight ESPN experts have picked the Cowboys to beat the Eagles in tomorrow night's wild-card matchup. Only former Eagles quarterback Ron Jaworski was brave enough to pick Philly. It also looks like SportsNation favors the Eagles.

My prediction: Cowboys 24, Eagles 21

I think the Eagles will finally make a couple of big plays against Dallas' defense. Surely the Cowboys can't hold DeSean Jackson down for three consecutive games, can they? I think the Eagles will do a much better job against the run in this game. Defensive tackles Brodrick Bunkley and Mike Patterson are excellent run defenders and they were embarrassed by what happened last Sunday. But it will be the Eagles' inability to slow down tight end Jason Witten that leads to their first-round exit. He's a matchup nightmare for the Eagles and Tony Romo will lean on him when things get tight.

Those of you who keep insisting that the Cowboys will once again blow the Eagles off the field are dreaming. This Eagles team has too much pride for that.