September 19, 2012 |
It took until the ninth game last season before an Eagles linebacker recorded a sack. DeMeco Ryans needed all of two games to notch his first sack of the season. Linebackers accounted for only three of the Eagles' 50 sacks last season. The low number had something to do with the defense dialing up fewer blitzes. But with the way Ryans and rookie Mychal Kendricks have covered the field in the first two games, it's safe to assume the linebackers will increase that number this season.
May 24, 2012 |
DeMECO RYANS manned the middle of the Eagles' defense for the first time Tuesday, standing in a shaft of light beaming from the heavens that followed Ryans about the NovaCare field, as unicorns frolicked and celestial choirs . . . OK, it really wasn't all that dramatic. Just a guy in short pants and a helmet, wearing jersey No. 59, looking a little bigger than your typical Eagles middle linebacker, at 6-1, 237. Rookie strongside starter Mychal Kendricks stood on one side of Ryans (confirming what had been whispered)
July 18, 2012 |
The trade for DeMeco Ryans comes with a cautionary tale. You may have heard it before: The Eagles acquire an established player from another team - in this case, a former two-time Pro Bowl linebacker from Houston - and that player does not deliver upon expectations. See: Jevon Kearse and Stacy Andrews. Ryans comes with rather large expectations, although they're tempered with the fact that he is only two years removed from a ruptured Achilles tendon and that he is moving back into the middle of a 4-3 defense after a season as one of two inside linebackers in a 3-4. The Eagles say they believe that Ryans, whom they acquired from the Texans in March for a fourth-round draft pick, is no longer hindered by his injury.
April 6, 2013 |
One year ago, when the Eagles acquired DeMeco Ryans, the narrative from the first day was that Ryans fit better in the Eagles' 4-3 defensive scheme than the 3-4 defense the linebacker played in with the Houston Texans. One year later, the Eagles must change that narrative. Former coach Andy Reid, who cited Ryans' fit in the 4-3, was fired. Chip Kelly arrives with a new defensive scheme that will likely include elements of the 3-4. Ryans appears be one of the players hurt by the coaching change, and the Eagles are due to pay $6.6 million to a defender who might not be as effective - or on the field - as much as he was last season.
September 2, 2015 |
YESTERDAY WAS officially "hey, don't worry, it's just preseason" day down at the NovaCare Complex. You could see this one coming. Reporters spent Saturday night and Sunday exclaiming over Sam Bradford's perfect evening and the Eagles' 38.3 points per preseason game offensive juggernaut. By yesterday, as the fan base started tuning up its tailgating fleet for Santa Clara and Super Bowl 50, it was time to balance the scales and delve into perceived problems. But the starters began the day with a full two-week gap yawning between them and the season opener, Sept.
September 24, 2012 |
Like most great leaders, DeMeco Ryans doesn't want credit. He doesn't want bouquets of praise for turning the Eagles defense around. The middle linebacker doesn't believe he's the missing piece to make the wide-nine work. And despite being called "Cap" or "Coach" since high school days, Ryans doesn't think much about why others follow his lead. "There's no magic tricks," Ryans said last week. "For me, I just go out there and be myself and try to do things the right way, so guys if they see me doing it the right way then they'll be more prone to listen to what I'm saying.
October 5, 2012 |
The Pittsburgh Steelers won't just be getting a couple of key players back from injury Sunday. They'll be getting their defensive mystique back. People are intimidated by safety Troy Polamalu, despite that cuddly persona he has created for endorsements. People are downright afraid of linebacker James Harrison, who spends too much time in commissioner Roger Goodell's office to do any endorsements. The Steelers have other good defensive players, but Polamalu's ferocity and Harrison's borderline personality disorder are at the heart of the team's success.
August 5, 2015 |
BE HONEST. When DeMeco Ryans tore the Achilles' tendon in his right foot last November at NRG Stadium in Houston, you thought there was a very good chance he had played his last down as an Eagle, maybe his last down for anyone. I confess I did, and I've been covering professional football for 32 years. The man Chip Kelly calls "Mufasa" had just suffered his second Achilles' injury in five years (he tore the left one in 2010). He was 30 going on 31. You can count the number of thirtysomething NFL linebackers who have made successful comebacks from Achilles' injuries on your fingers.
January 6, 2016 |
Three years ago, the Eagles made a radical change to their defense. They shifted from a 4-3, "wide-nine" defensive front to a 3-4. The next coaching change could bring a similar philosophical shift. The new coach will determine the defensive scheme, but it's something the players must think about entering the offseason. Many of the players on the Eagles defense were brought in by Chip Kelly's staff to play in this scheme. "I think for everybody, it should matter," safety Malcolm Jenkins said.
January 15, 2016 |
AS COORDINATOR, Billy Davis coached the defense. As a pedigreed inside linebacker, DeMeco Ryans led it. Their performances this season probably ensured they will be coaching and playing elsewhere in 2016. Some of that is their fault. Some is not. They could not control circumstance, and they could not control Chip Kelly. And, so, here is a final, likely futile, defense of Davis and his indefensible defense. Just before his final postgame confession, after the Eagles' playoff chances vanished in a loss to Washington, Davis stood apart from a gaggle of interviewers and muttered, "I hate this bleep.