Saturday, August 1, 2015

Quick take on the Ryans trade

The Eagles got their middle linebacker Tuesday evening, sending a fourth-round pick to the Texans for DeMeco Ryans.

Quick take on the Ryans trade

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David J. Phillip/AP file photo
David J. Phillip/AP file photo

The Eagles got their middle linebacker Tuesday evening, sending a fourth-round pick to the Texans for DeMeco Ryans.

The two teams also swapped third-round picks, with the Eagles giving up No. 77 overall for No. 89.

My immediate reaction was: Why would Houston give up a 27 year old linebacker whose made a pair of Pro Bowls for such a low price?

It seems the answer rests in the scheme the Texans switched to in 2011. Wade Phillips took over land implemented a 3-4. He had a lot of success doing so too. In fact, after the wild-card weekend, I compared Houston's situation to the Eagles'. Both teams hired new defensive coordinators, brought in new personnel and dealt with a shortened offseason, but the Texans improved dramatically, while the Eagles did not.

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With the new scheme came a limited role for Ryans, who played only 58.4 percent of the team's defensive snaps, per Pro Football Focus. In other words, he wasn't an every-down linebacker, but more of a situational player.

Here's what long-time football writer John McClain, who covers the Texans for the Houston Chronicle Tweeted about the deal:

Ryans is a 4-3 MLB and not a weak-side ILB in a 3-4. The Eagles will be an ideal situation for him.

Ryans traded cause he's a true mike LB. He was wasted as a one-down inside player in their 3-4. Cushing never came off the field.

In 2010, Ryans was a three-down player. He only played in six games after suffering a torn Achilles tendon on Oct. 17. But Ryans was on the field for about 91.9 percent of the team's defensive snaps that year.

And in 2009, when he made the Pro Bowl, Ryans stayed on the field for 99.8 percent of the Texans' defensive snaps.

It's also interesting to see how they used him that season. Ryans blitzed 121 times in 2009, per PFF. As a point of reference, Jamar Chaney blitzed 44 times last season for the Eagles, more than any other linebacker.

Of course, the Eagles are not bringing Ryans on board to rush the quarterback. They traded for him to solidify the run defense behind the wide-nine. I plan on going back and watching some Texans games from the past few seasons to get a better sense of what Ryans brings to the table, but on the surface, this looks like a great move for the Birds.


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Sheil Kapadia is in his fifth season writing about the Eagles and the NFL for philly.com. His earliest memories as a sports fan include several trips to Veterans Stadium with his Dad. He's not a beat writer or an Insider, but is here to discuss the NFL 365 days a year. E-mail him at skapadia@philly.com or by clicking here

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