Philadelphia Eagles DeMeco Ryans Loses Season


Nov 2, 2014; Houston, TX, USA; Philadelphia Eagles inside linebacker

DeMeco Ryans

(59) is escorted off the field in a cart during the fourth quarter against the Houston Texans at NRG Stadium. The Eagles defeated the Texans 31-21. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

Philadelphia Eagles DeMeco Ryans Loses Season

Philadelphia Eagles middle linebacker, defensive play caller, team leader, and one of the most stand-up NFL players to ever wear an Eagles uniform, DeMeco Ryans lost his season on  a freak play.  In front of the fans who love him nearly as much as Philadelphia, DeMeco Ryans went down to an injury while intercepting Houston Texan quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick.  Ryans caught the ball, began to advance, but during the play reportedly tore an Achilles heel and is now lost for the season.

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Immediately following the play, both benches cleared.   No, not to brawl, but to pay homage to the man whose career has meant much to the two competing teams on that day.  Texans center Chris Myers explained:

"“You saw the reaction from both sides, both teams, all of the fans when he went down . . . Obviously, he made his name for himself here in Houston. When he was here, he was our captain. We call him ‘Cap,’ and he will always be that. When something like that happens, you are there for him.” Texans Chris Myers discussing DeMeco Ryans"

“We call him Cap, and he always will be that.” – Texans center Chris Myers

Eagles players also were moved at the sudden loss of the defensive captain:  Outside linebacker Conner Barwin, who followed Ryans from Houston to Philadelphia, described:

"“It just shows the respect that everybody has for him.  The guy’s just a leader . . . there are a lot of (Houston Texan) guys that remember him and still are here . . . He’s just a great person and a great leader.” – Connor Barwin"

When asked how the Eagles could go on without DeMeco, it was clear that the loss would be a challenge in the post game interview with defensive coordinator Billy Davis:

"“It’s gonna be real difficult (to go on), just because of the man that he is.   We have a group of vets who will step in.   Mychal (Kendricks) has been calling the plays when he’s in there, but when (Emmanuel) Acho or Casey (Matthews) are in there, that role calls the plays.  Everybody who is going to take over for DeMeco has gotten a lot of reps this season.”"

With the loss, the Eagles must now go back to a drawing board to patch the defense back together.   To do so, we need to look at the roster and examine who if any could be called upon to step up into the shoes.  There have been several silver linings this season that should help somewhat.  First of all, the entire off-season was spent in formulating a plan to address the “DEMECO-LESS” defense.   As a result, the Eagles have created several versions of the nickel and dime packages which focus on passing downs, but which reduce the number of plays the defense needed Ryans to play.  At the halfway point in the season, the Eagles have gotten plenty of snaps at the six defensive back paired with a sole linebacker and four pass rushers.

The second set of events which will work to soften the blow is the recent injury of Mychal Kendricks.  During that time, the Eagles have been working hard to bring their players up to speed.    The improving play of inside linebackers Casey Matthews and Emmanuel Acho have kept the Eagles going despite the absence of Kendricks.  Now, the load gets heavier as they must shoulder the burden of the loss of Ryans.  So what does that leave this Eagles team to replace Ryans on the defense?

“Everybody who is going to take over for DeMeco has gotten a lot of reps this season.” – Billy Davis

Inside Linebacker Mychal Kendricks – Just returning from an injury himself, Kendricks has been groomed this year to be a play caller for the Eagles defense.   As Davis explained, Kendricks is the linebacker who calls plays when he is not paired with another inside linebacker.  With Ryans out, that formation may see more use.    Kendricks played hard for a man just returning to the roster, seeing twelve tackles with a quarterback sack.   He’ll need to keep that type of production going to continue the Eagles success.

Inside Linebacker Casey Matthews – One of the shining examples of the Eagles demise was the drafting of linebacker Casey Matthews in the fourth round of the 2011 NFL draft, and assigning him a starting role at the center of the then 4-3 defense before he every took a snap for the Eagles.    While that start ended in disaster, what has remained is an improving linebacker who plays very hard on special teams.   Now, some three years later, could this be the year that Matthews assumes a larger role on this defense?  He certainly showed up huge in the New York Giants game.  Could that streak continue into the season in the shoes of DeMeco Ryans?

Inside Linebacker Emmanuel Acho – One of the linebackers who stepped up for the Eagles when Kendricks went down to an injury.  Acho is one of those guys who is tough to “peg”.  He’s been a victim of the roster cuts each season,but has found his way back to the Eagles starting roster each season as well.  He is the younger brother of Arizona Cardinals Sam Acho, and has been platooning with Matthews to cover the vacancy caused when Kendricks was down.   Now he’ll be covering the absence of Ryans.

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  • Inside Linebacker Marcus Smith II –  This is the Eagles “project” linebacker, and his inability to remain active on game day is certainly adding fuel to the fire caused when some considered drafting him a “reach”.    Billy Davis has been adamant in protecting Smith, even to the point of placing him on the inactive roster as recently as the eighth game in the season.  Smith has been tasked with absorbing practically every linebacker role on the defense, and has only had 44 defensive snaps in just four games to demonstrate his proficiency.   It may likely be that Smith gets a trial by fire now, and that he will be seeing more playing time.   It’s a lot to absorb, but the time may have come to cook or get out of the kitchen.  I think after a few “jittery” plays, he’ll settle down nicely.

    So that’s it.  The Eagles once more find themselves pulling together to absorb a blow to their defensive roster.  This team has shown remarkable resiliency.   At some point, even they reach the limits of how much they can handle in a season.   But if the offense slows down on the turnovers, and if the defense has keep up pressure on the quarterback, this team will go far this season.

    Here’s what twitter had to say about DeMeco Ryans’ injury yesterday.