Despite little production in the preseason, Philadelphia Eagles linebacker DeMeco Ryans has been impressive through the first two games of the 2012 season.
So far, Ryans has 12 tackles, 1 sack and 1 interception, with the sack, interception and 7 tackles coming in Week 2 against the Baltimore Ravens. Eagles fans have been clamoring for a quality middle linebacker for years, and if Ryans continues to perform at this level, he will almost certainly ingratiate himself to the Philly faithful before the 2012 season comes to an end.
The linebacker position has been a revolving door in Philadelphia for several years, with the team desperately searching for the right players to step in and contribute. While it is still very early in the 2012 campaign, as of now it appears as if the Eagles have finally hit pay dirt by trading for Ryans in the offseason.
By design, Philadelphia’s “wide 9” defensive scheme funnels running plays to the middle of the field. Without a viable option at middle linebacker, the opposition is destined to run all over the Philadelphia defense. Ryans has plugged that hole nicely thus far.
Coming into the season, speculation started as to whether or not the Birds would use Ryans as a 3 down linebacker, or if they would shuffle in players depending on the situation. In yesterday’s game, Ryans (along with Nate Allen, Kurt Coleman, Nnamdi Asomugha and rookie Mychal Kendricks) played all 70 defensive snaps against the Ravens.
Ryans has produced in the NFL for several years and has brought veteran leadership to a very young group of linebackers in Philadelphia. As I mentioned, the starting SAM linebacker Kendricks, while immensely talented, is a rookie. Akeem Jordan, the starting WILL linebacker, is in his 6th year in the league, but has not seen nearly as many snaps or as much success as Ryans.
More evidence of the impact that Ryans has had on the Philadelphia can be found when considering the fact that the Eagles did not record a sack by a linebacker until the 9th game of the 2011 season; Ryans recorded a sack in his 2nd game this year.
While I’m all too well aware that it is only the end of week 2, the performance of Ryans and the entire Eagles defense has been a pleasant surprise so far in 2012. If the offense can eliminate turnovers, this team will be even more fun to watch.