Eagles Wake-Up Call: DeMeco’s Return

Photo by: Jeff Fusco.

Photo by: Jeff Fusco.

DeMeco Ryans learned that he was being traded from Houston to Philadelphia over supper.

“I talked to the general manager [Rick Smith]. We sat down and ate dinner,” Ryans remembered. “He told me what we were doing, sending me to Philly, and I was like, ‘Hey, cool.’ And he was like, ‘I didn’t expect you to accept it this way.’ I said, ‘Hey, man, I’m fine. I’m going to Philly, it’s a good team. ‘ I was excited about coming here. If I’m going to leave Houston, I’m happy to be going to a really good team.”

His teammates weren’t as accepting. One of the more memorable parts of the March 20, 2012 trade, in which Ryans was acquired by the Eagles for a 2012 fourth-round draft pick and a swap of third-round choices, was the way in which players on the Texans reacted.

“I am not in agreement with [the decision],” said defensive lineman Antonio Smith.

“DeMeco, far and away, is the most respected guy on our defense,” added J.J. Watt, now the most dominant defensive player in the league. “Our leader. The guy everybody turns to especially when things go tough. It’s tough to see him go but at the end of the day, what can we do? He’s obviously going to go play great defense for the Eagles.”

The decision was driven in large part by money. Wade Phillips had taken over as defensive coordinator for the Texans in 2011 and switched from a 4-3 to a 3-4. In the new scheme, Ryans was relegated to playing in base defense only. The Texans could not justify paying him $5.9 million to be a part-time player, so they dealt him.

Ryans went from limited reps to limited rest upon arrival in Philly. He played more snaps than any other inside linebacker in the league last year and quickly became the heart of Billy Davis‘ defense.

“I’ve been around a little ‑‑ a couple of players.  DeMeco is one of the finest men I’ve been around.  He’s a relentless worker; you can’t out work him.  He’s a great leader.  He’s a very calm leader,” said Davis.

“He makes good, quick decisions that sets our defense up.  We have a lot of checks and he gets us in and out of calls based on formation or the quarterback audibling.  Without DeMeco, I don’t know if we could do as much as we do.”

There were questions about whether Ryans could play in a 3-4, and rumblings that his best days were behind him. Two-and-a-half seasons later, and Ryans has not missed a game for the Eagles. He’s racked up well over 200 tackles, five sacks, two interceptions and 14 passes defensed in that time, and returns to Houston as arguably the top leader of this 5-2 Eagles team.

“I knew what I had in the tank,” Ryans said with a laugh. “Everybody has questions about this on the outside but for us as players, as long as you know yourself and believe in yourself and know what you can and can’t do, all the outside chatter really didn’t affect me because I knew I could still play ball.

“It’s all good, man. There’s no hard feelings or anything like that about it. I understand. For me being six years in the game it wasn’t surprising to me. I was happy to come to another team and still play football. That’s what it’s all about to me.”


Just when it looked like the offensive line was rounding into form, an injury to Todd Herremans. 

Jason Kelce is gearing up to try and play on Sunday, though.

How do Jordan Matthews and Josh Huff stack up compared to the rest of the WR class? We take a look. 

Sheil with notes on Jeremy Maclin, the Cowboys and Kenjon Barner.

Kapadia gets us more familiar with the Texans. 


Kevin Clark of the Wall Street Journal on how modern technology has given offenses the advantage (thanks to reader Beta20 for the link):

Until now, the chess match before the snap had always been a fair fight. Offenses get to come out in a set formation and can make minor tweaks—a different route here, an adjusted blocking assignment there. But defenses can change their whole scheme based on what they see from the offense. They have always had the element of surprise, the ability to disguise a blitz or sneak up on an unsuspecting lineman, all at a moment’s notice, just by pointing or hollering to a teammate to make the switch.

But then technology intervened. For about the last four seasons, players have had tablets to watch film on. This year, the effects are being felt for perhaps the first time. “Things that used to be subtle, like a safety lining two yards outside of a hash mark, is now a dead giveaway,” said former NFL lineman Shaun O’Hara, now an analyst at the NFL Network.

Nate Allen is moving on from Sunday’s miscue, writes Zach Berman:

Allen, who accepted responsibility for the final touchdown after the game, made no excuses about the play. He’s been in Philadelphia for five seasons, long enough to know to take the heat when it’s hottest. He also has allowed enough big plays to gain experience in dealing with criticism.

“Definitely through the years [in Philadelphia], I’ve matured as a player and as a man,” Allen said. “You go through things on this level, and sometimes your character’s tested. At the end of the day, it’s bigger than football. It’s a blessing to be here. Football is what I do. It’s not what I am. At the end of the day, there’s greater problems in the world going on.”


An All-22 post from Sheil. Chip Kelly speaks at 10:45.