Kendricks contract signals shift away from DeMeco Ryans
PHILADELPHIA - What's good news for one is usually bad news for another.
The perceived quarterback of the Eagles' defense is now 31 in a league where 30 is a dirty word and he's also coming off a torn Achilles. Ryans has taken part in some team drills this month but has sat out the first two preseason games, and a "veteran maintenance day" is a semi-regular occurrence for him.
"Because he's the veteran that he is, you allow a guy like who can control what happens within a down," defensive coordinator Bill Davis said. "There were times, although he was practicing quote-unquote full, he was being cautious with it. So every week, he's grown. But a guy like that, you can allow to get a couple reps and still protect himself."
Davis, though, admitted Tuesday that he's not sure if Ryans will be 100 percent by the team's opener against Atlanta on Sept. 14.
(Listen to John McMullen discuss what the Mychal Kendricks deal means for the Eagles)
"I don't know," Davis admitted. "Those are tough injuries to get 100 percent, but he's ahead of schedule. He's ahead of where most guys would be with that. I think it's going to be close. Hopefully, we can get him out there for a little bit (against Green Bay on Saturday), for his sake and ours to see where he is."
That uncertainty has made the Eagles realize that Kiko Alonso and Kendricks is the team's future at ILB, not the former Bills standout and Ryans.
“I think it’s a great move,” Davis said of Kendricks' extension. “We’re real excited about Mychal, and like most guys who get their first (big) contract, that second contract, it gives you peace of mind and ability to relax your mind a little bit and not worry about lifelong security.
“Now he has that and he can really focus on his craft and getting great at it, and I think it’s great for Mychal to have that. He’s the kind of guy that really will probably flourish because he’s got the contract done.”
For thee short term at least the plan remains the same, starting Ryans and Alonso and having Kendricks rotate in as well as play in the nickel with Alonso.
But that's all written in sand and you can see an evolution in the thinking toward the undersized Kendricks.
“In the old days, especially in the 3-4, we used to find the big Levon Kirklands who could butt heads with a guard, and you don’t need quite as much anymore," Davis said. "At least our style, we don’t need that. In this day and age, I think the prototype, (Mychal's) getting close to it. I don’t think there’s really a need (for size) with all the passing and really the spread-out offenses that are out there, you need speed and athleticism out there."
And unfortunately for Ryans prototypes don't sit.
“The contract doesn’t guarantee him anything, but Mychal is a three-down player, absolutely,” Davis said. “And in the NFL, you’re really looking for that.”
-John McMullen covers the Eagles and the NFL for 973espn.com. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @JFMcMullen