The Philadelphia Eagles had a strong defensive effort in their season-opening win against the Cleveland Browns last Sunday. DeMeco Ryans, Eagles’ middle linebacker, was a big factor playing extremely well against the run and the pass. Ryans had five solo tackles in the Eagles’ 17-16 victory against the Browns.
They’re going to need him to put together another great performance when the Eagles (1-0) host the Baltimore Ravens (1-0) on Sunday, Sept. 16 at 1 p.m. (CBS3). The Ravens, led by quarterback Joe Flacco, will bring a no-huddle offense to Lincoln Financial Field. Flacco completed 21 of 29 passes for 299 yards and two touchdowns on Monday night against the Cincinnati Bengals. He has three good receivers in tight end Dennis Pitta (5 receptions for 73 yards and 1 TD), wideouts Anquan Boldin (4 receptions for 63 yards and 1 TD) and Torrey Smith (3 receptions for 57 yards). Ryans knows how you can defend the Ravens’ offense.
“You just have to be poised,” Ryans said. “You have to be poised with the no huddle – you can’t panic. That’s the biggest thing they want you to do is panic and change personnel and matchup with what they’re doing.
“You can’t panic. You just have to be calm, play solid and stop them on first and second downs to get them in third and long. That’s the thing to do is get it to third and long and get them off the field quick. When they’re trying to move as quick as they are and you’re trying to get them off the field, it kind of stops them from trying to come out in the no huddle. It can play to both team’s advantage. Our thing is to get stops as quick and early as possible.”
Ryans, a 6-foot-2, 247-pounder, was a big offseason acquisition by the Eagles, coming over in a trade from the Houston Texans. He was a two-time Pro Bowl and an AP All-Pro selection during his playing days in Houston. Ryans is impressed with the way the defense played in the first game.
“It’s about our defense coming and working together,” Ryans said. “Everybody was trying to make a play. It’s everybody working together.”
In addition to a good passing attack, Baltimore has a solid running game with Ray Rice, who had 10 carries for 68 yards and 2 TDs in the Ravens win against the Bengals. Rice is one of the best running backs in the NFL. Ryans is well aware of Rice’s ability to pick up huge chunks of yardage.
“Ray Rice is a nice player,” Ryans said. “He’s a very durable guy and you see the last few years that he has been in the league, he has gotten it done with both rushing and passing. He doesn’t miss a lot of games and doesn’t miss a lot of snaps. He’s a very durable player. He’s a very good player.”
When the Philadelphia Eagles host the Baltimore Ravens on Sunday at Lincoln Financial Field, they should get running back LeSean McCoy more involved with the offense. McCoy is the difference maker for the Eagles.
Moreover, he could take a lot of pressure off Eagles quarterback Michael Vick. McCoy had 20 carries for 110 yards in the Eagles 17-16 victory against the Cleveland Browns on Sunday. This was his 10th career 100-yard rushing game. He averaged 5.5 yards a carry.
The 5-foot-11, 208-pounder, is easily one of the best running backs in the NFL. In addition, he can catch passes coming out of the backfield too. McCoy had 273 carries for 1,309 yards while scoring 17 touchdowns last season on 4.8 yards a carry. He also had 48 receptions for 315 yards and scored three TDs through the air.
The Eagles have to utilize him more. In the sloppy win over the Browns, there were a number of times Vick was put in third and long situations. You don’t want your quarterback in bad situations. He threw four interceptions, three were poor decisions. Vick threw the football 56 times. He was 29-of-56 for 317 yards and two TDs. You can’t have your signal callers putting the ball in the air that much. Even if he’s having a good day eventually something bad is going to happen.
The offense has to be more balanced. Vick was able to get away with throwing four picks against the Browns. But that won’t happen against the Ravens’ defense led by Pro Bowl linebacker Ray Lewis and free safety Ed Reed.
The Eagles are going to need a good running game against the Ravens. Baltimore has a prolific offense with quarterback Joe Flacco. They can’t afford to turn the ball over to him. Flacco has some great receivers with Anquan Boldin and Torrey Smith. The Ravens also have a good running back in Ray Rice, who can really pick up large chunks of yardage on the ground. The Eagles should try to keep their offensive unit on the sideline as much as possible.
So, running the football is going to be very important. Of course, this is nothing new with Eagles head coach Andy Reid. He has been throwing the football for the last 13 years.
But Reid needs to take another look at his game plan. It needs to be more diverse and more explosive. McCoy can provide that kind of change of pace for the Eagles. He’s a young player. McCoy is 24 years old. He can handle the extra load.
They’re going to have to do a better job of taking care of the ball in the home opener. The Eagles are going to have to cut down on the number of penalties. They were penalized 12 times for 110 yards. That kills a lot of drives.
More than anything, they’re going to have to work through their Pro Bowl running back to help to get the offense moving. If they have to throw the ball on every down, the Eagles are going to have a lot of trouble beating the Ravens.