Eagles Wake-Up Call: Appreciating DeMeco Ryans

With 13:05 left in Sunday’s game, the Redskins ran a toss left to Alfred Morris.

Trent Cole crashed inside and was immediately out of the play. Derek Landri gave chase, but couldn’t get outside quickly enough. Kurt Coleman attacked the line of scrimmage, but was taken out by the fullback. And Mychal Kendricks couldn’t get off the block of left tackle Trent Williams.

DeMeco Ryans, meanwhile, methodically made his way from the middle of the field to the right sideline. He fought off the block of the Redskins’ center, made sure he took the right angle and delivered a punishing blow to Morris, knocking him 5 yards out of bounds.

It was a 17-yard run. The Eagles were down, 24-6. They were minutes away from cementing a sixth straight loss, falling to 3-7 on the season.

But there was no letting up from Ryans. It’s one of the reasons the whole “This team has quit” narrative doesn’t always ring true. There are certain players – Ryans, Fletcher Cox, LeSean McCoy and others- who are fighting on every down, regardless of score and regardless of record.

Ryans, in particular, is turning in a season worth appreciating. According to stats kept by Eagles coaches, Ryans leads the team with 101 tackles (77 solo). He’s on pace for 123 solo tackles. Per team stats, that’d be the most of any player in the Andy Reid era. More than Brian Dawkins. More than Jeremiah Trotter. More than Hugh Douglas and Trent Cole.

Ryans has 13 tackles for loss. That’s tied for the most by any Eagle since Reid became the head coach. Trotter had 13 TFLs in 2005. Ryans still has six games left.

Linebacker was a major area of need this offseason. Rookie Mychal Kendricks has been up and down. And Akeem Jordan has been nothing special. But the Ryans addition has worked out better than anyone could have expected. He’s been in the league for seven years, but Ryans is still only 28. He’s healthy. He’s effective. And he’s professional.

Amid a season of disappointment, Ryans has been a bright spot. And regardless of who the coach is next year, he figures to be a part of this team’s core as it enters a new era.

WHAT YOU MISSED

Could Jay Gruden be a better candidate than Jon for the Eagles? A roundup of what the national media are saying.

A look at Eagles defensive line production shows Cole got shut out (hurries and sacks) last week by Redskins left tackle Trent Williams.

A review of how the Eagles running backs, wide receivers and tight ends played last week. Does Jeremy Maclin have a future with this team?

If you missed Birds 24/7 Radio on 97.5 The Fanatic Monday night, here are the podcast links.

A look at Nick Foles’ first career start after further review.

Is Jeffrey Lurie doing right by Andy Reid? T-Mac breaks down the Eagles’ messy situation.

WHAT THEY’RE SAYING

Elliot Harrison of NFL.com has the Eagles 27th in his power rankings:

Brent Celek says he’s “sick about this crap.” He’s sick of losing. He’s also surely upset about his drop that led to an interception. Well, if he’s back next season, he won’t be sick of faces; many of the familiar ones could be gone. With Michael Vick due $15.5 million next season … you get the point. Although, all those Philadelphia Eagles fans clamoring for the Nick Foles era got a trailer Sunday — as in, a trailer for movies of quality, like Terminator Salvation, The Green Lantern and Alexander.

The Eagles are 27th in ESPN.com’s power rankings. Writes Dan Graziano:

Can’t go a whole lot lower, though they’re trying. A loss Monday to No. 29 Carolina could drop the Eagles into that range at which your ranking starts with a “3,” and that ain’t good. I dropped them from 23 to 25 in my poll. Every other voter has them 27th. Guess I was working off a higher starting point, but again, there isn’t much room underneath the Eagles at this point for further disagreement.

Ron Jaworski liked what he saw from Foles on Sunday. Courtesy of PhiladelphiaEagles.com:

“After looking at the tape, I thought for the most part he was under control,” Jaworski said. “There were a few times I thought he got a little quick in the pocket with his feet. Hey, that’s going to happen not only with a rookie in his first start but with any quarterback.

“I thought for the most part he was very, very good in the game. Now, he made some mistakes. There were times they didn’t give him some help. I just don’t think you can ask a young quarterback to drop back 51 times in the game and expect great results against a very complex and sophisticated Jim Haslett defense.”

COMING UP

Reid will address the media as the Eagles are back at Novacare today. We’ll have it all covered.

Follow Sheil Kapadia on Twitter and e-mail him at skapadia@phillymag.com.
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  • The Guru

    Just imagine how good Ryans would be if we were playing a normal defense and the d-line actually kept the o-line off him.

    • Sb2bowl

      All in due time; he’s been a great addition.

      • JohnGiam

        Dameco Ryan is a GODSEND! Only a handful of players BROUGHT IT THIS YEAR ON DEFENSE: Dameco, Cox, Kendricks, Graham has played hard and making the most of his limited snaps. The way he has played when he has gotten n opportunity, he should be starting….on special teams we are basically playing 2 against 11. No one besides Cooper and Colt do anything on special teams.
        because Dameco is so damn great, the next coach bettere not come here messing things up and switching to a 3-4 making Ryan’s ineffective!!!

  • JofreyRice

    Nice to see some measured commentary here. I remember Jeff McClane trying to spin the narrative that Ryans was washed up after 2 preseason games with the Eagles. I agree that Kendricks has been up and down–truthfully, I expected a little more out of him. It doesn’t seem like he’s playing as fast or as confident as he played at Cal, and it’s resulting in missed tackles. Hopefully Ryans can help the rookie turn some of his natural talent into consistent high-level LB play.

    In regards to Jaws’ comments on Foles…I dunno. I view anything that comes from PE.Com pretty skeptically. The organization is fanatical in the way they try and control messaging. During the 2010 season, they had Greg Cosell on for some segments, and pretty much omitted any of the negative things he had to say about Vick’s ability as a QB, because at that time, he was the franchise.

    For perspective on Jaws’ comments on Foles, I went back to see what he had to say about Kevin Kolb. Here are some comments from right before TC in 2010:

    “The two games he started last season, I thought he was very accurate. The key to playing the quarterback position is anticipation. That comes from the comfort level he has. Understanding the offense. Understanding reading coverage. The anticipation was there.”

    “I really like his decision-making,” Jaworski said. “If you go back to last year, I thought the two games he played, he made outstanding decisions. The speed with which he reads the coverage, watching him last year, he knew where to go with the football. I remember very few bad decisions.”

    from: http://articles.philly.com/2010-07-23/sports/24970809_1_kevin-kolb-ron-jaworski-donovan-mcnabb/2

    • UncleCarm

      I still like what Kendricks is doing. He has had a fall off off ball hawk skills and getting off blocks. He had that one game where he missed a few plays because of a foot injury, which may be hampering him. I think more likely though is bad coaching. It seems he is thinking too much. Earlier in the season he seemed to be more instinctive.

  • Wilbert M.

    Ryans, Kendricks, Cox and Landri have been bright spots defensively. Graham has also showed promise. Unfortunately, there’s not much else to build on. You hate to wish ill will on anyone, but there would be upside to Nnamdi and DRC getting injured so you could see if Marsh and Hughes can play. I don’t want to see Nnamdi or DRC on this team in 2013.

    • FMWarner

      I agree about Nnamdi, but I think DRC has been mostly good. I wouldn’t break the bank for him, but I would like to have him back. Certainly over any of the other slim pickings at CB.

      • Wilbert M.

        DRC’s aversion to contact is scary. At least Asante came up with INT’s and threw his body in there occasionally. There’s none of that with DRC. But, how can you really judge any of these guys with the coaching they’ve been getting?

  • JohnGiam

    I see the same Flaws in DRC’s game tht everyone else sees…but he is still a young 23 yr old supreme athlete, playing with the most ridiculous safeties in the nfl, not to mention tat he usually lines up on Kurt Coleman’s side. I would KEEP DRC. he is young, and if you solidify the safeties, I believe he can become a top 5 corner. believe me, he is far from the only cornerback in the nfl who is a bad tackler. We already need to replace two safeties. Kurt Coleman HAS TO GO! I keep the kid as a backup safety but he should never start another game in his life. depending who they replace him with, I may replace Nate as well. if they use a high draft pick to replace Coleman, then I bring in a veteran to start ahead f Nate. If they sign A upper echelon vetAn safety, then I keep Nate as a starter for one more year to see if pairing him with an elite veteran safety would help his game. Nmandi, I’m so disgusted with him I don’t even wanna talk about him