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Philadelphia Eagles Acquire DeMeco Ryans: Is This Takeo Spikes Part II?


Tens of thousands of Eagles fans woke up Wednesday morning elated to find out that the Philadelphia Eagles finally improved their linebacker demeco ryanssituation. Late Tuesday night the Eagles traded a 4th round pick to the Houston Texans for middle linebacker DeMeco Ryans, who happens to be a 2-time Pro Bowler.

Alas, the Eagles upgraded their middle linebacker position and we can now forget about the debacle which was Casey Matthews, et al. This makes them Super Bowl contenders right?

On the surface this sounds like a great trade, but Ryans has failed to come anywhere close to putting up the numbers he did in 2007 and 2009 when he was a pro bowler. This could be attributed to him suffering a torn achilles tendon, which he suffered in 2010.

Ryans was a tackling machine for his first 4 1/2 seasons in the league with 156, 128, 112, 123, and 54 (in 6 games). Last season he suffered a major dropoff in production and finished with just 71 tackles in 16 games.

Some will argue that his snaps also decreased, which can explain the dropoff in production, but it's clear he wasn't the player he once was. He is just 27 years old, so time is on his side.

There have been countless athletes in pro sports who have suffered a torn achilles tendon, only to never again regain the success they once had. Elton Brand is a prime example. Another one would be Takeo Spikes, whom the Eagles traded for back in 2007. Remember, this was the same Takeo Spikes who was arguably the second best linebacker in the league behind Ray Lewis while he was with the Cincinatti Bengals and Buffalo Bills.

When the Eagles traded for Spikes, the move was applauded by Eagles fans and many writers in the Philly market. After his one-year stint with the Eagles, it's clear he wasn't anywhere close to the player he once was. Spikes finished with just 86 tackles, 1 sack, and zero turnovers. He was cut after just one season with the Eagles.

Spikes averaged well over 100 tackles per season from 1998 through 2004. After suffering his achilles tendon tear in 2005, he didn't regain form until 2008, when he had 96 tackles.

There is an excellent breakdown about players who return to the NFL following achilles tendon tears, which cites that 50% of those players see a significant dropoff in play for 3 seasons following the achilles tendon tear.

Make no mistake though, this is at least a decent trade for the Eagles. They are giving up a 4th round pick for a player who has the potential to be decent linebacker again. With a 4th round pick you have no idea how that player will pan out. Even a mediocre DeMeco Ryans is better than Casey Matthews, Jamar Chaney, Moise Fokou, or Akeem Jordan.

Ryans' former Texans teammates are angry that he was traded, since they lost their leader on defense. Not to mention they also lost Mario Williams to the Buffalo Bills, so it is a miserable time to be a member or fan of the Texans.

DeMeco Ryans is already embracing his new home and you have to like that. "I feel the passion here from the fans and the love in here from the city. I'm just excited to get started," Ryans told ESPN. "We have a great team here with great teammates and I'm looking to come in here, do my part, and be myself."

History suggests that DeMeco Ryans won't be the player he was from 2006 through 2009 for another two years. He's better than anything the Eagles currently have, but don't expect an All-Pro season out of him - at least not this year.

Contact Dennis Bakay at dbakay@philly2philly.com

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Photo of DeMeco Ryans from nfl.si.com