DeMeco Ryans will go down as an Eagles great, but he now stands in the way of his former team.
The Philadelphia Eagles are under a week away from hosting the NFC Championship game against the San Francisco 49ers. On paper and through regular season results, the 49ers and Eagles have been the two best teams in the National Football Conference all season. Philadelphia’s balanced approach on both sides of the ball has overwhelmed opponents week after week. The Niners on the other hand used a trade deadline acquisition to rattle off 12 straight wins.
While both teams are tied for the most All-Pro selections and much will be made over the talent battle on Sunday, the deciding factor of who represents the NFC in Super Bowl LVII could be determined based on the coaching staff.
For Philadelphia, that means facing a very familiar opponent.
DeMeco Ryans was a dominant Eagle
For four seasons, DeMeco Ryans was the Eagles’ best defensive player. The Rookie of the Year in 2006 recorded over 100 tackles in his first two years in Philly and helped the Eagles win the division in 2013.
Since his retirement in 2015, Ryans has become one of the brightest coaches in the NFL to date and is on the precipice of a head coaching gig himself. He also just happens to bring the best defense in football into the place he once called home on Sunday.
Ryans’ defense has been the story of San Francisco’s winning streak. Brock Purdy may be in the spotlight, but the way the 49ers’ defense has suffocated playoff opponents like the Cowboys and Seahawks is a direct reflection of the way Ryans runs the scheme. Since taking over for Robert Saleh in 2021, San Fran’s defense has been a top-three defense in yards, points, rushing, and passing.
In short, there isn’t much that the 49ers’ defense struggles with.
It’ll be up to Jalen Hurts, Shane Steichen, and the Eagles’ offense to find a way to get ahead of the former pro-bowl linebacker and put the team in a position to succeed.
When he was a player, DeMeco Ryans was known as one of the smartest players in football. Now as a coach, he commands the top defense in football and it’ll be up to the Eagles to find a way to get past the Niner’s stingy defense.
It all comes down to Sunday.
AP Photo/Godofredo A. Vásquez