Eagles Analysis: 8 Predictions for the 2015 Season

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Nov 2, 2014; Houston, TX, USA; Philadelphia Eagles inside linebacker DeMeco Ryans (59) is carted off the field after being injured during the game against the Houston Texans at NRG Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

DeMeco Ryans will be relegated to quasi player-coach status

Early on, Ryans was considered the likely starter opposite of Kiko Alonso –whom the team has a lot invested in– in favor of Mychal Kendricks. Things changed, however, when Kelly and the front office extended Kendricks, giving him a lucrative new contract, and ensuring his starter status. Alonso, meanwhile, has endured a series of injuries throughout the summer, but is still set to be full-go for the Eagles tilt with the Atlanta Falcons in week 1. If Kendricks and Alonso are healthy, there is little reason for them to cede snaps to an aging, declining player in Ryans.

Alonso and Kendricks have the potential to be the best tandem of inside linebackers in the league, while Ryans is, at this point, a 2-down run-stuffer with outstanding character and leadership qualities. It was leadership qualities first and play second that earned him his own offseason extension, however, he’ll be able to bring his veteran insight and leadership qualities in a player-coach role. Minimizing Ryans workload will allow the younger more talented duo of Alonso and Kendricks to dominate snaps, while still allowing Ryans to assume his role as the spiritual leader of the Eagles’ front.

The Eagles staff knows that Ryans isn’t as effective as he once was, hence the addition of Alonso and extension of Kendricks, however, they clearly still value what Ryans bring to the table. The only thing seemingly holding them back from phasing Ryans out, is that he is the one who wears the headset and commands the huddle. Someone eventually has to learn this role, as Ryans won’t be around for ever, and my guess is someone –whether it be Kendricks or Alonso– inherents this role sooner or than later.

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