In the midst of the mess that is the Philadelphia Eagles' season, one player is consistently being overlooked.
That "something" that has been missing is an identity on defense.
Replacing Brian Dawkins is, and probably always will be, impossible. But a Pro Bowler at a position Eagles fans have been cringing at over the years is a start.
According to advancednflstats.com, Ryans' Week 6 added the most win probability of any linebacker in the league. Advanced statistics are starting to gain their market share in the MLB, but they are relatively unknown in football.
So what exactly is "Win Probability Added?" The site defines the stat as a measure how much "each play...increased or decreased a team’s chances of winning the game." So, for example, Ryans' Week 6 total was .40, or 40 percent.
Now, WPA is just one advanced measure of a player. It does not make him the best linebacker or the league or predict him to win NFL Defensive Player of the Year. Instead, it is a simple way to look at who had the biggest impact to the team's chance of winning.
Advanced statistics are not without their flaws. Berri and Burke mention how other players' influence can increase or decrease another's WPA. For example, quarterbacks avoiding Darrelle Revis all season doesn't make a low interception total a sign of poor play. The same is true for advanced statistics.
With that being said, there's obvious value in both the statistics and DeMeco Ryan's play this season. Thanks in part to his high Week 6 WPA, he leads all linebackers in WPA total for the season.
The Eagles may have finally found the defensive keystone they have been missing. If DeMeco Ryans can transform into the vocal and smart leader they need, he will gain value that no stat could ever measure.
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