Ryans Insists That 3-4 Won’t Slow Him Down

DeMeco Ryans on Thursday was asked about the perception that he is not as effective in a 3-4 scheme as he is in a 4-3. The veteran linebacker cut in before the reporter had time to finish the question.

“Perception,” Ryans said with emphasis, followed by a laugh.

“It was a big perception that DeMeco doesn’t fit the 3-4. Whatever. I played in that defense. I played with the Texans in the 3-4 defense when we were the No. 1, No. 2 defense in the league. So if I didn’t fit in there, we wouldn’t have been that highly ranked.”

The year in question was 2011. The Texans flipped to a 3-4 when Wade Phillips took over as defensive coordinator. Houston went from being ranked 30th defensively in ’10 to No. 2 the following season. While the unit improved dramatically, Ryans’ numbers dipped. The player that routinely posted 100-plus tackle seasons in a 4-3 scheme had 64 tackles and no sacks in ’11.

It needs to be noted that Ryans was coming off an Achilles injury that year. And, in Phillips’ scheme, he was on the field a lot less. Ryans explained that the Texans deploy only one linebacker on passing downs, and that linebacker was Brian Cushing in ’11. The numbers back this notion up. According to Pro Football Focus, Ryans was on the field for 58.4 percent of the snaps his last year in Houston. He played 99.7 percent of the snaps for the Eagles last season, and ended up posting more tackles for a loss (16) and solo tackles (115) than any player during the Andy Reid era.

How much can be pinned on scheme change?

“It’s not as big of a difference as people make it seem. You still have your particular run fits, you still have certain coverages. You can only run so many coverages as a defense so those coverages don’t change whether you are in a 4-3 or a 3-4,” said Ryans.

“It’s all about being versatile. As a linebacker you have to be versatile  –4-3, 3-4 — whatever it is this coaching staff is looking for me to do, I’m willing to do that. I’ve done both so I am open to whatever it is.”

It is unknown exactly what defensive coordinator Billy Davis has planned, though it is safe to say that the defense is moving away from a traditional 4-3 and will have more elements of a 3-4. Ryans noted that Davis was his defensive coordinator at the Senior Bowl when he was coming out of college, but otherwise doesn’t have a ton of familiarity with him. This is a brand new operation and everyone in the building is still getting to know one another.

The coaching staff has been adamant that they will cater to their players’ strengths. It is not totally clear what that means for Ryans. But the 28-year-old is open to whatever they have in mind.

“I know Chip is going to put us in the best position to win,” said Ryans, “so whatever that position is for me, whatever my role is for this team, that’s what I’m here to do.”

 Sheil Kapadia contributed to this story.

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  • Guest

    I don’t buy into that either. At the end of the day football is football and DeMeco is a baller. He showed last year that he could play at a high level. He step in and from day 1 was

    • Dilleria

      I agree. Ryans is one of my favorite players on the team…even when there was nothing to win, he was busting his tail. I also think you’ll see him take a more pronounced leadership role this year as well.

      • theycallmerob

        Amen. Bringing his buddy Barwin into the fold should only help. This year, the key word for the defensive players is “accountability”

        • nicksaenz1

          What’s accountability? I don’t recall this mantra from the Reid days.

  • Even if DeMeco isn’t the best fit, he’s still one our best players. Probably second best on defense behind Cox.

    • Those two work exceptionally well together. Without a good mencing defensive tackle, your linebacker is doomed to spend sundays fighting off Guards and Centers play after play.

  • GGeagle21

    Ahhhhhhh ask and I shall recieve! Gotta love Sheil and Tim…yeah. That 3-4 crap was BS, it was just a cap hit….Demeco will just be fine in a 3-4 or a 4-3 under. Ideally you would like Demeco to be 10lbs heavier to play Mike Thumper…but he is definitely physical enough to handle it…and in 2years when Dion Jordan is ready to take over the full time SAm spot, Demeco will be ready to move on, and Barwin has the size to slide in at Thumper, and bang it out with the strong side guard all game…I think every day leading up to the draft, I’m going to torture you guys and give you two new points a day for drafting Dion lol

    • chloroformdreams

      Pretty sure I only signed up so I could share some of the heat for my DJ manboner. Here’s the issue though: If you draft him, you almost certainly have to cut Trent Cole out of the picture and there’s a good chance that Kendricks is out too. We’re not paying Connor Barwin to warm the bench and I’m not as confident as everyone else that Michael Kendricks can just slide inside when he really struggled to get off of blocks on both sides last year.

      Assuming he does (which I hope is the case) then you’re left with DJ, Trent, BG and Barwin at OLB. That’s a lot of talent and a lot of money to sink into two positions. If BG keeps up the work ethic he could to be scary good at Pred. You could consider Trent gone, which is difficult considering that he’s a fan favorite. My Take? We pick up DJ anyway, say goodbye to Trent, and ask our 5 stud LBs to move around a lot. That would be extremely frustrating for any O line, it’s difficult to set up your blocking scheme when you’re having trouble identifying the Mike.

      • GGeagle21

        nah…while Il gladly share the dion man love with a fellow fan…I gotta disagree. Kendricks played alot of 3-4 in College, and he is literally TAILOR MADE to play the WIL in a hybrid(4-3U)…I still think Cole will be traded(unless he moves around like a friggin Ballerina in mini camp lol) we can afford to eat his dead money…..You dont want to draft Dion, and start him as a 3down Backer from day oine..If you want Dion, you draft him with patience, knowing that if you bring him along the right way, you will have a KILLA in 2 years….(Not to mention, Barwin is prob the starting SAM, but Im sure we will see him play alot on the open side, he had 11 friggin sacks laying the position)..In 2 years when Dion is ready to take over fulltime, Demeco will be old, and retiring or moving on to a new team, and Barwin has the size that Demeco doesnt to slide over and play thumper, banging it out with the strong side guard all game…Cole has MAXIMUM 1 year left hear, and Im not even sure that Graham’s future as an eagle is etched in stone yet!….would you really be that surprised, if they dont re-sign Graham to big money, slide Barwin back to the open side where he belongs, and have Dion take over the SAM on the TE side?…using grahams money to get some impact players at other positions? Cole/graham off the books, is an extra 10mil to play with………….If you are playing 4-3Under, which in my brain thats what we will 100% be doing, Dion has a chance at becoming the best SAM that Scheme has EVER SEEN!!!…Dion is EVERYTHING: 4-3U SAM, 3-4 OLB, heck he can even lineup at DEATHBACKER for you from time to time like Kam Chancellor….The game has chanced, all new subpackage tweener positions are taking over the NFL: JokerTE,Hback, WR/rb(westbrook types)….Its a good idea to get a guy, that you can count on to cover these new freak Hybrid posaitions man to man….Most prospects can do a few things for your team at the next level….why would we pass on a kid, that can do soooo many things for your D, and provide your defense with a bigtime element of tremendous schematic disguise? How can a OC, know on any given play wtf Dion is going to do, when he can do so many things?
        Prospects become busts and dont reach their true potential because of Charecter. We are fortunate enough to know for certain the charecter of this kid…This kid is NOT going to stop working to be great…and with Physical attributes like that, WTF is to ever stop him from reaching his full potential? The kid put on 10lbs of muscle since college ended, and he managed to do that with a torn Labrum, and he still made the combine his bitch! Does anyone realize how difficult it is to put on 10lbs of muscle with a shoulder that requires surgery? Yet people have the audacity to list gaining weight as a concern for the kid? He already gained 10lbs, and his 40 time only decreased by 0.05seconds….The kid is special…when he becomes the player that he is destined to become, he better be wearing Eagles green…
        I actually think its easier to draft Dion, now that we have Barwin! It allows us to develope him the right way! He will still have a heckuva impact as a rookie..

        • Kendricks has not established himself as a HUNTER in the NFL, he gets hung up on blocks, he seems to be a feather ass and if he doesn’t bulk up and retain his speed, he’s a wash.

          Kendrick didn’t give the Eagles any of what Upshaw and Hightower, both Alabama linebackers drafted last year, gave Baltimore and New England. The Eagles could have used that pick other places, and drafted Vontaze Burfict in a later round.

          • nicksaenz1

            You’re right, he didn’t, however, in the assumed new scheme, as the WILL, he won’t have to worry about shedding blocks. The design of the scheme is to free up the WILL and have him be a monster. That’s how Karlos Dansby earned his money.

          • chloroformdreams

            Do you mean weak side inside backer or outside backer? Because I’d rather see Graham, Dion or Barwin on the free side where guys like Ware and Clay Matthews dominate.

          • nicksaenz1

            Weak inside, next to Demeco. Pretty sure Dion n Barwin win would/will line up at strong side outside linebacker and Graham/Cole at Predator.

          • Except Kendricks had more tackles than Upshaw and Hightower. Upshaw had a half sack more than Kendricks, and Hightower had 3 more playing in a 3-4 defense.

        • chloroformdreams

          Weren’t you the one who said that Davis preferred to keep his LBs on the same side? If that’s the case then drafting Dion makes most sense, he and Barwin could play open side or strong side regardless of what the offense brings out. Correct em when I’m wrong but when you say WIL you mean weak-side inside lb, because that’s the only way I see him fitting.

          I agree that Cole is gone, but Graham was a blue chip prospect at LB until he arrived at Michigan fat as shit. Maybe the new nutritionists can make him light enough on his feet to be a scary good predator, otherwise I agree that he may be SOL. Maybe we’ll rotate our entire front 7 the way most teams rotate their front 4’s. That’d be interesting.

      • Under this new regime, if Curry and Graham are given reps in Camp, you may not see much from Barwin. There’s not much in his past other than one year with 11.5 Sacks that suggest cutting Cole for him gives you the production Cole is noted to have produced here. I don’t think Barwin’s salary is guaranteed, and thus it would not surprise me if he’s a camp casualty as may be a number of the cast-offs signed in Free Agency.

  • (Posted as guest below, couldn’t delete it)

    I don’t buy into that either. At the end of the day football is football and DeMeco is a baller. He showed last year that he could play at a high level. From day 1 and was a vocal leader in the middle of the defense that we haven’t had in a long time. Houston had 2 top tier ILB and it’s not really a position you spend big money on 2 guys. So they let DeMeco go and we lucked out big time.

  • GW.Fisher

    He certainly keyed a great D in 2012…

  • PaoliBulldog

    If you truly believing in tailoring a scheme to fit the players instead of the other way around, then you keep somebody like Ryans. Love his game, love his presence even more.

  • Jack Waggoner

    Not worried about Meco. He’ll be fine.

  • xlGmanlx

    He was let go because of cap reasons not performance was my memory. If I recall properly, it was the CG’s of the world who turned it into he was a scab. Dude showed up for a 16 game season.

  • chloroformdreams

    Not concerned at all about DeMeco. It’s unlikely that he’ll see 99.7% of snaps this year, but he’s a talented ILB period. What people don’t realize is how many blocks he had to get off of to post those 116 tackles last year due to our poor dline play. Blaming that all on the scheme and Jason Babin.

    • GGeagle21

      well said! Demeco is not a concern at all! Yes it would be ideal, for him to be 10lbs heavier to blow up the Strongside guard, which is the main objective of the thumper Mike, but Demeco is Physical enough to do it…I have watched every snap Demeco took this year(multiple times), and he just had a fantastic year..Its not very often that we have been treated to such high level LB play. He isnt that bad on 3rd down either…I counted around 5 plays, where Demeco dropped back on 3rd down, made the tackle on a WR, just short of the 1st down marker, stalling an offensive drive…and like you said, he shed a hole lot of blocks last year..This will be his 3rd year removed from his injury….Im expecting an even higher level of play from Demeco. If we draft Dion, Demeco probably wont play in the Nickle package…we will probably be in a 4-2-5 as our Nickle package, and in that case we would probably want to use the speed and cover ability of Kendricks and Dion in our nickle package….Demeco is an under rated blitzer. That 3rd down sack he had on Flacco late in the game was a thing of Beauty…with Billy Davis in town, BLITZING IS BACK! Our DC really is a believer of the blitz, something that has almost been extinct with the death of the late great JJ…..and I think we will see Demeco have a really big year for us….
      If you guys havent watched Demeco’s interviews at the novacare yesterday, enjoy….He talked for about a half hour yesterday:

    • That’s not true, the difference was Fletcher Cox playing in front of Ryan. Cox absorbed much of the attention that Ryan would have gotten had there been a lessor talented Tackle playing in front of him.

      Your middle linebacker at every level of football is only as good as the Tackle playing in front of him. Fletcher Cox was exceptional as a rookie tackle and it’s only expected he’s going to get much better.

      • chloroformdreams

        Fletcher Cox played 62% of the defensive snaps last year. That’s even before you take into account the fact that depending on the team, and the play our front 7 will see a different look very often. This means that Fletch, as well as he played, was not solely responsible for DeMeco’s play. I will concede that Cox was substantially responsible for the free looks DeMeco got, but Meco saw a lot of linemen coming across his face and managed to make plays anyway.

        Are you just flaming me? Because you sound stupid.

  • Doctor Rick

    It is great to see team leaders buy into the program. Go Eagles.

  • Ryan performed as well as a MLB could, the key was the play of Fletcher Cox in front of him. Prior to Ryan and Cox, look who was playing those positions. The Eagles had not had a defensive Tackle who commanded the attention that Cox does in decades, and thus the Guards aren’t free to attack Ryan.