Given that the defense gave up 20 points in the fourth quarter/overtime against the Lions and Andy Reid fired Juan Castillo, there were plenty of other topics to discuss during the week.
But when I looked at the All-22 for yesterday’s breakdown, one guy I noticed making plays (again) was Ryans.
In many ways, the 2012 season has been predictable. Turnovers, shoddy offensive line play, a mistake-prone quarterback, horrible special teams and blown fourth-quarter leads have this team at 3-3. But before the season started, if I would have told you that:
* DeSean Jackson would bounce back.
* Michael Vick would get much better against the blitz.
* The secondary would be much-improved.
* And Ryans would exceed expectations.
You probably would have felt like the Eagles were going to do big things in 2012.
Today, let’s focus on Ryans. His 14 tackles against the Lions were the most for any Eagles linebacker in a single game the past two seasons. Here were the highlights from my write-up:
Blitzed and helped to force a Matthew Stafford incompletion in the first (Curtis Marsh was called for defensive holding). Dropped Joique Bell for a loss of 1 in the second. Put a huge hit on Brandon Pettigrew after a 12-yard gain on a screen. Brought Nate Burleson down for no gain on 3rd-and-1, forcing a Lions punt. He and Kurt Coleman stopped Mikel Leshoure for no gain in the fourth. Good coverage on Bell in the fourth, helping to force an incompletion. Tackled Leshoure for a loss of 1 after a short completion on the final drive of regulation.
Ryans, of course, has not been perfect. He got blocked on a couple fourth-quarter runs, but overall, he was outstanding. Each week, he seems to tackle a receiver just short of the first-down marker and force a punt. And at the line of scrimmage, Ryans already has eight tackles for loss. That’s more than any Eagles linebacker had in all of 2011.
The question going into the season was: Would Ryans be a three-down player? The answer is a resounding yes. According to Pro Football Focus, he’s been on the field for all but two snaps this season, and even those two came in Week 1.
Overall, according to stats kept by the team, Ryans has 60 tackles (47 solo). No other Eagles player has more than more than 41 (30 solo).
With the shift from Castillo to Todd Bowles, leadership on defense will be important. Any kind of adjustment period could doom the Eagles’ season. The defensive players will have to be on the same page as soon as they step onto the field against the Falcons next Sunday.
Once again, the Eagles will be counting on Ryans. So far, he hasn’t let them down.
WHAT YOU MISSED
What’s with the defensive line’s lack of sacks? And what can be doing going forward? Here’s a look. Note: Brandon Graham is still performing well.
Michael Vick’s bye week has included a flat tire and a visit with a gymnastics class. Hard-hitting journalism you’ll only find here on Birds 24/7.
Donovan McNabb has advice for Vick: Play pissed off.
WHAT THEY’RE SAYING
Many “Bench Vick” pieces are reactionary and illogical. This one from Jimmy Kempski over at Blogging the Beast is the opposite. He makes a reasonable case for why it’s time for the Eagles to make a QB change:
In my opinion, this would be a move to save THIS season, not build for the future. Is it a little ridiculous to hope that a rookie 3rd round pick is somehow going to save the season? Unquestionably. I guess that just goes to show what my confidence level in Michael Vick has become.
Ray Didinger of CSNPhilly.com says the Eagles players never really believed in Castillo:
The players never really had confidence in him. That’s why his appointment as defensive coordinator was a mistake from the start. Andy Reid finally acknowledged it Tuesday by firing Castillo and naming Todd Bowles the new defensive coordinator.
If Reid winds up losing his job after this season – and at 3-3 the team is on the .500 pace owner Jeff Lurie deemed unacceptable – his gamble on Castillo will go down as the deal breaker, the one decision that can’t be explained or even remotely justified. It never made sense, no matter how often we were told Castillo was a hard worker and good soldier.
The bye week continues, but there will be plenty to talk about on Birds 24/7 so check back early and often throughout the weekend.
Follow Sheil Kapadia on Twitter and e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.