Q & A about DeMeco Ryans with a Texans guy

I don’t often require Texans news/analysis, but when I do, there are two places I turn.  John McClain has covered the NFL for the Houston Chronical for 33 years.  That’s one.  The other is Rivers McCown.  Rivers writes for Football Outsiders, SB Nation Houston, and a whole slew of other sites.  Follow Rivers on Twitter here.

Anyway, Rivers was nice enough to take some time to answer a few questions I had about the Eagles’ newly acquired LB DeMeco Ryans.  Let’s just get right to it:

Jimmy: The perception of DeMeco Ryans’ 2011 season is that his production was down because of a combination of two things: (1) He was still recovering from a ruptured Achilles tendon suffered in 2010, and (2) the switch from a 4-3 defense to a 3-4.  Do you agree with that assessment, and if so, do you think one of those two things was more prominent than the other?  Is there more to it than those two things that people are missing?

Rivers: The production was going to drop regardless of his talent with the scheme change, but coming back from the ruptured tendon made it even worse. He just wasn’t the same player as he was in 2008 or 2009 — noticeably slower and it was a lot harder for him to cover any player who could outrun him. He still has the instincts, the tackling is still there, but he was more “solid” than “great” last year.

Jimmy: I’ve seen it mentioned that Ryans got better as the season progressed in 2011.  Did you see it that way?

Rivers: I would say that he played smarter. He started to get a little deeper on coverage, and he played a more contained game based on his new limitations. Better would be a step far for me. Teams started to catch on to the fact that you could pick on him around Week 8 or so, and the division rivals like Jacksonville and Tennessee would often split their running back out on second down, before he came off the field, to try to make him cover. He did reasonably well given the circumstances.


Jimmy: Agree or disagree: There was a noticeable difference in Ryans’ ability to flow to the football in 2011 as opposed to when he was healthy 2009.

Rivers: Agree. I still think he’s a good-to-very-good run defender, but that lost step really kept him from being the same kind of player he was. The instincts helped contain the damage, but his tackles would start a yard or two away from where they would have in his earlier days.

Jimmy: When the trade was made public, an overwhelming number of Texans players expressed a wide variety of negative emotions.  The Texans haven’t been around very long, but in their history, can you think of a player in team history that would generate the same type of emotions if they left as Ryans did?

Rivers: Well, Andre Johnson. That’s about it really. DeMeco was the heart and soul of the defense for years, and his personality was unlike most of the other Texans on that side of the ball. Mario Williams was scary talented but also really more of a quiet country boy who just wanted to play, then on the other hand they had guys like Brian Cushing who I’d (affectionately) call a meathead. No one else on the defense had the same combination of cerebral and vocal that Ryans had.

Jimmy: From 2008-2009, Ryans played 2041 of a possible 2048 snaps. Is he still a 3-down player in your opinion, or are those days over?

Rivers: I guess that really depends on if the Ryans we saw last season is the Ryans we get going forward in terms of his speed. I kinda feel like with this trade, the Eagles thought they were buying low on a player that they thought could rebound a bit, and the Texans were operating under the “give up a player one year too early rather than one year too late” axiom. I think with what Philly has invested in him, they might as well give it a go and see what happens. But I’d make sure I had a good backup plan on the roster if I were them.



  1. Han Gemmel says:

    Cool! You have answered. I’ll take a quote! The meaning of life and everything else. Decided. No kidding!….

  2. Confucius Say: Support bacteria — it’s the only culture some people have!

  3. Aida says:

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  4. Corry says:

    Honestly, if Ryans is only “solid” at MIKE for us, that will be a HUGE step up.

  5. brisulph says:

    This comment went up to a reply for some reason, but…

    As interesting as this is, where’s my big write up on the importance of re-signing David Carr for the G-Men? 😉

  6. rage114 says:

    This is where I cover my ears, close my eyes, and sing at the top of my lungs to drown out all descenting voices.

  7. Kyle S says:

    Wow u are suprisingly down on the trade u keep finding ways to try to make this trade bad with a weird stat and being criticial of his one injury plagued transitional period year and now u don’t ask any positive question like how how great a leader he was and what is the strength of his game instead of all the weaknesses the eagles got a possibly damaged possibly not damged OUTSTANDING linebacker for a fourth round pick I know that almost all eagles fans think this is a great trade and there is almost no downside to this trade

    1. This was a Q&A. I asked questions, and a writer that covers Ryans’ former team supplied the answers. I had no idea what his answers would be, and frankly, I think they were pretty encouraging. I provided no commentary whatsoever here.

      Secondly, on the previous post you’re referring to, a reader requested to see his tackles per snap. I did the research, and the results were what they were. Should I not have posted them because they were unfavorable?

      For the record, I happen to think it was a fantastic trade. I mean, I could write “WOOOHOOOOOO” over an over again, but that wouldn’t exactly make for interesting reading.

      1. Kyle S says:

        I was saying you should not just ask questions like what are his new limitations how about asking some questions like do you see ryans fitting well in our scheme here in philly and how has his leadership skills made the other players around him like brian cushing better so we can look forward to that at the least. The stats in that research seem rediculous to me because then ryans is only 3 spots behind patrick willis and 7 spots better than lawrence timmons in a year where he had so many bad things happening to him ill take a player who is almost as patrick willis on a down year for a 4th round pick. I am not looking for a WOOOOOOOHOOOOOOO post i would just like one post about how this trade is positive for the eagles and the texans and how he is going to fit in going forward instead focusing on this last season do you think the fans of these teams think “concerning stat: your new player is worst then u think” is interesting and you have done this with all the teams like dallas signing a guard with a balance problem. If they wanted to be depressed i think they would just watch the news. I am not saying to sensor your opinion but i think you should try to be more positive and focus on the future rather than the past.

        1. Adamnb87 says:

          You start a blog of your own and run it your own way. Call it All Things Positive, by Kyle S.

          1. brisulph says:

            I wish their was a rec button here…

          2. brisulph says:

            As interesting as this is, where’s my big write up on the importance of re-signing David Carr for the G-Men? 😉

      2. ATLeagle says:

        because you never made a post like that ?


        I truly think that the tainting off your offspring is slowly removing the pro-eagles bias. Or maybe I dont but just want find a way to bitch about your coverage of the team that I spend March and April of every year convincing myself that this is finally the year.

        1. Ha, almost forgot about that one.

    2. Adamnb87 says:

      That is the longest sentance I’ve ever read. I think all Eagles fans are excited about the possibility of us finally having a competent, pro-bowl caliber LB who could fill that great defensive leader void of this team has seen since Dawkins left. BUT at the same time, there IS a reason the Texans traded him for a 4th round pick. Some guys take a long time to recover from injuries in the NFL…some NEVER get even remotely close to becoming the same player they used to be pre-injury. Time will tell with this signing as to whether or not he can fully recover, but I’m not assuming we’re getting 2008-2009 DeMeco Ryans just yet.

  8. slandog says:

    No matter what he has to be an upgrade. Just that he can consistently tackle is a step in the right direction. Cheney had issues with tackles and that hurt the team a lot. Having him there to make a tackle and getting everyone lined up correctly is going to be a big change and a good one in my opinion for the defense.

  9. theguyotc says:

    Even if he has permanently lost a step and is not a 3 down player, I still think he’s a massive upgrade over all the LBs on the roster.

    I realize that’s not aiming high, but considering a lot of Eagles fans wanted 36-37 year old London Fletcher to come in, I have to think giving up the equivalent of a late 3rd pick for an experienced, competent starter who is 10 years younger is a good deal.

    Whether it ends up working out or not, I’m happy with the trade.

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