A big reason why starting linebacker DeMeco Ryans became available to the Philadelphia Eagles one year ago was because his former team, the Houston Texans, had switched from a 4-3 defense to a 3-4, and there were indications that Ryans was better off positioned in the middle of a 4-3 formation.
Now it appears the Eagles are going to be making the switch to a 3-4, which has some wondering what the future holds for Ryans.
But in reality, Ryans was simply the odd man out in Houston's jacked linebacking corps. His playing time was being cut drastically and thus he became a commodity on the trade market.
"I can play in any defense, it's not that big of a deal," Ryans said in December, according to PhillyMag.com's Tim McManus. "In a 3-4, it wasn't that the defense didn't fit for me. I played the whole year with the Texans and we were a top defense in the league, so it wasn't that I didn't fit the scheme."
Ryans insists that he can make the transition to the 3-4 in Philly, and the major difference this time is that the Eagles are quite thin in the linebacking corps. Even if Ryans is something resembling a square peg in a round hole, it might not be worth taking a hit in the talent department. Personnel shouldn't be sacrificed for scheme.
I've read that Ryans fits what the Eagles' defense wants to do under coach Chip Kelly. Ryans played well last season, but $6.6 million is a big number for someone who doesn't make a lot of plays.
It's true. Ryans should be able to cope with Billy Davis' defense, which is technically called a 4-3 under. And if he could handle the wide-nine, he can handle this. But it's also true that the 28-year-old isn't known as a playmaker. The Philly defense had a league-low 13 takeaways in 2012 and Ryans created only one of them. He's an above-average tackler, but that's about it. Plus he's probably a little small for the role Davis wants him to play.
With that in mind, he's also quite expensive. But the Eagles have to focus on finding replacements for the many players on their roster who have failed to live up to expectations before worrying about the guys who have at least done their jobs relatively well.
Ryans fits into the latter category.