The 27-year-old middle linebacker was shipped to Philadelphia from Houston with the label, “Can’t Play In A 3-4″ written in big letters across the packaging.
Ryans says it was false advertising.
“I can play in any defense, it’s not that big of a deal,” said Ryans. “In a 3-4, it wasn’t that the defense didn’t fit for me. I played the whole year with the Texans and we were a top defense in the league, so it wasn’t that I didn’t fit the scheme.”
Indeed, the Texans were ranked second overall as a defense in 2011, holding opponents to 286 yards and 17 points per game. Ryans, though, finished with just 64 tackles after recording over 100 in each of his first four seasons.
“With their package they only have one linebacker that plays on third down, so I was the guy out and Brian [Cushing] was the guy in,” Ryans explained. “So when we are playing teams who are playing five wide, of course I don’t see the field [as much]. It wasn’t that I didn’t fit the 3-4 scheme. A lot of people put that out there, but that wasn’t the case at all.”
This season with the Eagles, Ryans has played 99.7 percent of the snaps, according to Pro Football Focus. That has resulted in 146 tackles and 16 tackles for a loss, per the stats kept by the team. As Sheil has brought to light, no player in the Andy Reid era has posted more tackles for a loss in a season.
“Just getting back out there, getting into the feel of the game, not on and off, on and off. This year I felt great and I had fun out there,” said Ryans.
It is possible that his dip in production last season was injury-related as well. Ryans suffered a torn Achilles and missed the majority of the 2010 campaign for Houston. It is totally plausible that were some lingering effects.
He made it pretty clear that this year that those issues are behind him, and is willing to adapt to whatever situation — or scheme — is thrown at him.
“Teams turn over a lot nowadays. You have to approach it like any other time,” said Ryans. “If there are changes, you have to roll with whatever is in front of you. I accept whatever is put out there in front of me.”
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