When one thinks of the leaders on this current Philadelphia Eagles roster, there are a number of veterans who have meaningful impact on the team. But maybe none more so than DeMeco Ryans, the 29 year old linebacker in his second season as an Eagle. Ryans was originally acquired in the 2012 off-season in a trade with the Houston Texans. Fans were excited to finally see a tough inside linebacker who brought good physical size, toughness, and leadership to the table. 2012 was a rough year all around for the Eagles, but there have been a lot more positives signs in 2013. One of those encouraging signs has been the play of Ryans.
Ryans ranks fifth in the league in total tackles (88) and ninth in combined tackles (109). Ryans can get after the passer at times too; he has recorded three sacks on the season. In coverage, Ryans has defensed six passes and caught two interceptions.
The impact that Ryans has on the defense goes beyond the numbers. Ryans, dubbed as the cliche but true "Quarterback of the Defense", is responsible for taking pre-snap information from the coaching staff and relaying information to the rest of his teammates. It's up to him to help keep things organized and mentor the team's younger players. Ryans' fellow inside linebacker, second year player Mychal Kendricks, has likely benefited by learning from the veteran.
Defensive coordinator Bill Davis, formerly a linebackers coach, truly appreciates his veteran linebacker, "DeMeco is the leader of our defense and he's having an outstanding Pro Bowl year and we couldn't be happier with everything DeMeco is doing for us."
For a deeper feel on the impact Ryans makes, check out these great film-breakdown posts from ChipWagon:
Unsung Heroes: Demeco Ryans and Mychal Kendricks
In a 2-gap 3-4 it is the job of the DL to occupy blockers. As a result, this is supposed to free up the LBs to make plays. And that is clearly happening. Demeco Ryans so far may be the biggest benefactor of this new scheme. He is making plays all over the field.
Brian Urlacher was a HOF player. However, he was at his best when he had good interior linemen in front of him. Once that started to fade in recent years, and he started to age, you really started to see him struggling to get off blocks. Nice to see that while Demeco is thriving behind the 2-gap 3-4 alignment that he is still shedding his fair share of blocks and making plays. He's been a revelation this year.
Ryans' leadership and solid play in the middle contributes to a very improved Eagles defense. After a rough start to the year, the Eagles have gone nine straight games holding their opponents to 21 points or less. It's also the first time the Eagles have held 10 consecutive quarterbacks to a passer rating below 90 since 2000.
General manger Howie Roseman is clearly proud to have a player of Ryans' caliber and persona on the roster. He claims "[Players like Ryans] are culture-setters when you have guys like that - great character, hard working ... You're talking about a real productive player and a really hard worker - smart football player as well."
Off the field, Ryans puts forth conscious effort to positively impact the lives of youth. More information on that can be found at the DeMeco Ryans Foundation website.
Ryans seems like an all-around great player and person to have in Philadelphia. He's the top dog on defense, and he's exactly the player Eagles fans can be proud to root for.
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