First Down? DeMeco Ryans. Second Down? DeMeco Ryans. Third Down...

First Down? DeMeco Ryans. Second Down? DeMeco Ryans. Third Down...

That's his name, so don't want to wear it out -- especially before one real game has been played.

The
hope was that DeMeco Ryans would come over from the Houston Texans and
stabilize a linebacker corps that was woefully in over their heads just a
season ago. Unfairly or not, his arrival has been met with mixed
reviews thus far -- I'll go on the record as siding with "unfairly."
Nonetheless, the seventh-year veteran's athleticism has been called into
question since an Achilles injury struck in 2010, and the idea he is
still a three-down player is exactly that: an idea.

An idea that
is one step closer to fiction after practice on Thursday, where Jamar
Chaney reportedly took most of the snaps in nickel packages for the
Eagles. We have no way of knowing what the plan actually is until
Sunday, but it sounds an awful lot like the coaches intend to dip into
their depth quite a bit, further supporting the storyline Ryans might
not be the cure-all we had hoped.

For those of you waiting for
Kulp Spadaro to somehow spin this development into a positive, I'm not
going to do that. Upon sending a fourth-round pick to Houston to acquire
Ryans during the offseason, the Eagles declared a three-down linebacker
was bringing his talents to Philadelphia. With the regular season
suddenly upon us, the coaching staff has suggested they are not so
comfortable with Ryans in coverage.

It's not very difficult to
see where they are coming from, either. Learning a new system or not,
Ryans doesn't look particularly speedy. For whatever it's worth, he
didn't make a single outstanding play in coverage during the preseason.
Heck, part of the reason the Texans sent him here was because they
weren't using him on passing downs, so none of this should come as
terribly surprising.

But does this latest development mean
trading for Ryans was a misstep? Even assuming coverage could be a
problem, many have expected "more" from a two-time Pro Bowler. While it
is true his body of work has been more than that of a merely adequate linebacker, his
status as a superstar may have been vastly overblown.

Ryans was never
an amazing athlete, nor was he an incredible playmaker. Just look at the
stats. He didn't do anything special in coverage. He wasn't remarkable
rushing the passer. Yet whatever it is he did, he was widely considered
one of the better linebackers in the NFL.

My opinion is once the
real thing finally gets started, fans will be happy with Ryans. For all
the talk of expectations, few seem to truly understand what the Eagles
have brought in to the middle of their defense -- a leader, physically
imposing, who understands his role and will demonstrate how to tackle.

DeMeco Ryans as a three-down linebacker? Eh... we'll see. As a major upgrade over what the Eagles had a year ago? Duh.

Eagles Mailbag: Bennie Logan, top WRs in draft, Jeremy Maclin return?

Eagles Mailbag: Bennie Logan, top WRs in draft, Jeremy Maclin return?

There hasn't been much Eagles talk recently. The last few weeks have been pretty dead. 

That's about to change soon enough. Next week, the football world will take over Indianapolis for the combine and just after that, free agency will begin on March 9. After that, the draft isn't too far away. 

So let's jump into your mailbag questions: 

Yeah, I think there's a real chance Bennie Logan isn't an Eagle next year. Howie Roseman has been pretty consistent in saying he wants Logan to return, but it's fair to wonder about the price. Logan has now proven that he can play in a 4-3 or a 3-4 scheme, so there will be plenty of teams interested. 

If the Eagles lose Logan, their defense will take a big hit. There's not really a way around that. He's a good player and has been an important part of the line. But with a ton of money devoted to the defensive line over the next few years -- even assuming Connor Barwin isn't back -- will the Eagles pay another? I'm not so sure. 

And I agree that Logan was really good against the run last year. But I think his real value is in being great against the run while also being able to generate some pass rush. I think Beau Allen can be a decent run-stuffer, but he's clearly not the same player as Logan. 

I can't give a real answer here. Sorry. While I don't wholeheartedly agree with the best player available notion, the Eagles also can't prioritize one need over the other in this scenario. There will be either 13 or 14 picks before the Eagles are on the board. 

Really, it's going to depend on which players are left. Are Mike Williams and Corey Davis on the board? How about the top corners? There's a lot of them. If the player the Eagles really want at one of those positions is off the board, they could look elsewhere. And it's not automatic they'll take a receiver or a cornerback. What if they opt for an edge rusher? 

But getting back to corner vs. receiver, there are a couple thoughts: 

1. They'll pick a corner because receivers are far from a sure thing. Roseman made it a point to talk about how the 2014 draft changed expectations for rookie receivers. And the Eagles haven't had much luck recently drafting receivers in the first round. And Roseman has also said that while it might make sense to grab a first-round corner in the second round because of depth, there's often a run at positions where a draft is strong. It would be better to just get the best one. 

2. On the flip side of that, maybe they'll pick a receiver with the idea that at least one really good corner will be on the board in the second round. That would maximize value, especially if they get the receiver they want in the first round. 

That's a long way to say: I don't think it'll be about position as much as it will be about the specific player at 14 or 15. 

This is a tough one. I really think the margin separating these two is so close that the combine could flip them for me. But for now, I'm going with Mike Williams. 

Clemson listed him at 6-3, 225 and I think he's going to come close to that at the combine. And he might not have Corey Davis' speed or quick twitch, but he makes up for it. I really want to see how he performs at the combine; I expect it to confirm my belief that he's the top receiver in the draft. Davis will reportedly not run at the combine because of an ankle injury. 

It's possible a team like the Eagles could fall in love with Davis' deep threat ability. That's clearly what they value right now. But ultimately, I think Williams is the top guy. 

I don't think Ryan Mathews will be back next season. He's 29, coming off a serious neck injury and is way too expensive. The Eagles can save $4 million by cutting him. I expect that to happen and for the Eagles to try to find some younger, healthier talent. 

Jeremy Maclin, DeSean Jackson, LeSean McCoy! Let's get the band back together! 

I understand why the Maclin questions are rolling in. An ESPN column recently suggested that the Chiefs could cut the former Eagle. Maclin is familiar with the Eagles' offense and Doug Pederson, which means the move would make some sense. 

But from a football standpoint, Jackson would give the Eagles what they need more than Maclin. Over the last couple years, Maclin has really been utilized in the slot, which happens to be where the Eagles' only decent receiver plays. Sure, Pederson will move around his receivers, but there are probably better fits out there for the Eagles than Maclin. If he does become a free agent, though, it's at least worth inquiring. 

Former Eagles linebacker DeMeco Ryans joins 49ers coaching staff

Former Eagles linebacker DeMeco Ryans joins 49ers coaching staff

About a year ago, while in Indianapolis for the combine, the Eagles cut veteran linebacker DeMeco Ryans. 

Ryans has finally found his next job ... as a coach. 

The 32-year-old former linebacker has been named a defensive quality control coach on Kyle Shanahan's staff in San Francisco. Shanahan was on the Texans' staff for the first four years of Ryans' pro career. Niners defensive coordinator Robert Saleh was also on that Houston staff. 

After the Eagles cut him last Feb. 24, Ryans was out of the league in 2016 after 10 NFL seasons. He played the first six years of his career in Houston, where he was a two-time Pro Bowler, before joining the Eagles through a trade in 2012. 

While the Eagles cut Ryans after the 2015 season to save $3.5 million in cap space, they made a point to go out of their way to praise him on his way out. He was very well-thought of in the locker room and throughout the building. 

While Ryans played one season under Andy Reid, he quickly became a favorite of Chip Kelly, who frequently called Ryans the "Mufasa" of the Eagles' defense. 

Kelly didn't forget about Ryans when he went to San Francisco to coach the 49ers for the 2016 season. In fact, in Kelly's questionnaire in the NFL's 2016 information guide, Kelly listed Ryans as a player who'd make a great head coach.