The linebacker position, important in any defense, is a key for success for the Philadelphia Eagles in 2013.
Andy Reid had cycled through a variety of players as the team often refused to put a premium on linebackers, or at least on getting enough size at the position to make it effective. They were often destroyed by the better tight ends in the division, and last year was no different.
The Eagles added Mychal Kendricks, who showed promise early in the season, to only be exposed as he wore down later. One of the most important players on the field for the defense next season will be DeMeco Ryans. He must step up and unify this defense to make it a success.
Ryans was a quality player for the Houston Texans. He faced a major injury and found himself phased out of the team when Wade Phillips came on and switched schemes. The Eagles brought Ryans over last year, and the signing was heralded for the team finally having a player who could step into Jeremiah Trotter’s shoes.
Ryans played every game last season, putting up 86 tackles and an interception. He is the veteran of the linebacker group and his leadership is sorely needed.
Billy Davis is bringing in a hybrid defense with a variety of looks. Ryans will be on the field in the middle and inside linebacker positions. He will need to be flexible in managing rookies and players like Trent Cole, who may now be covering receivers as outside linebackers.
On Philadelphiaeagles.com, Ryans states:
“It’s really something new for all of us, so we have to work together and understand that the entire team is going to succeed together. It’s not an individual thing at all. It’s what we do collectively that will allow us to have success.”
Fans should be encouraged by that statement. Unity was absent from the field last season, and Ryans is obviously taking a team-focused approach heading into this important year. He is right; the defense must perform as a unit, make adjustments and make stops. He can take the reins, be the field general and make the defense a bright spot this year.