After the Eagles' Week 1 loss against the Packers last season, here's what I wrote about defensive tackle Brodrick Bunkley in Man Up:
He might have been the Eagles' best defensive player on Sunday. Bunkley made several good plays against the run, stuffing [Brandon] Jackson in the second and dropping him for a loss on multiple occasions in the third. Really strong game.
After that performance, things went downhill. By the time the Eagles faced the Packers a second time, in the wild-card round of the playoffs, Bunkley was only on the field for 11 snaps and was a complete non-factor.
In Week 5, he suffered an elbow injury that hampered him for the rest of the season. To his credit, Bunkley played through it and didn't land on injured reserve as some initially suspected.
But the truth is, even before the injury, Bunkley was not playing well.
So entering the final year of his contract, with new defensive line coach Jim Washburn running the show, can Bunkley get back to being a contributor?
"We think that Bunkley will fit into this system," defensive coordinator Juan Castillo said on DNL yesterday. "This system is really what he played in Florida State, attacking-type defense."
Bunkley's had six sacks in five NFL seasons. In the past few years at least, he's been replaced inside in passing situations. But as a senior at Florida State, he had nine sacks and was an effective pass-rusher.
He's one of the players to watch as Washburn and Castillo sort out the defensive line. Bunkley played only 29.8 percent of the defensive snaps last year. Antonio Dixon, Mike Patterson and Trevor Laws all played 40 percent or more.
Dixon was probably the team's best defensive tackle, and Patterson was solid. Laws showed flashes of the talent the Eagles saw when they picked him in the second round back in 2008.
Remember, players like Albert Haynesworth and Jason Babin have talked about how Washburn helped them earn big paychecks. One player even said Washburn spelled sacks with a dollar sign ($acks) to motivate his linemen. Haynesworth's big payday came with the Redskins, and Babin's is likely coming this offseason.
Bunkley won't be on the same level when he's scheduled to be a free agent, but remember, even though it seems like he's been around forever, he's only 27. Bunkley could still earn himself a nice deal, even if it's in another city, with a standout 2011 season.