Philadelphia Eagles News

Bergey: How Will Eagles Replace DeMeco?

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On Tuesday night, the Eagles hosted an Insider Event called "Men In The Middle", highlighting the middle linebacker position...

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Welcome to Other View, a perspective from members of the media, celebrity Eagles fans and Eagles alumni on the state of the 2014 Eagles that runs here weekly during the season. Today: former middle linebacker Bill Bergey, a member of the Eagles Hall of Fame who earned two All-Pro nominations and four trips to the Pro Bowl in seven seasons with the team. Bergey was acquired in a trade from Cincinnati and became a key member of the 1980 NFC championship team ...

I had the pleasure of taking part in an Eagles Insider Series Event in front of about 200 season ticket members at Lincoln Financial Field a couple of weeks ago with former Eagles linebacker Jeremiah Trotter and current linebacker DeMeco Ryans. It was a wonderful event and it was a chance for me to meet and spend some time with DeMeco, who is everything and then some that I had heard: Personable, intelligent and curious about my role in this franchise's history.

It saddened me greatly, then, when DeMeco was injured in the game at Houston. To see someone like that, who just takes over a room when he walks in and who clearly loves the game of football, go down in the heat of the battle with such a serious injury was heartbreaking.

The question the Eagles have heard all week and that they will begin to answer tonight is: How do we replace DeMeco Ryans? Well, it's not going to be easy for the team at all.

Losing someone who is a leader like that can leave a huge void. All of a sudden the guy who was next to you every day and who was leading the way isn't there. The security blanket is gone. Now it's time for others to step up and make plays and lead, and some players respond well to that challenge and some don't.

I was injured in the 1979 season at a time when I felt I was one of the leaders of the team. The rest of the defense rallied in my absence and we went to the playoffs and had a pretty good year. I was never the same player after that injury, but at least I came back and played in the 1980 Super Bowl season and was able to resume my role in the defense.

This situation is very similar in that the Eagles are in first place and they have high goals for the year. All of a sudden they've suffered a serious loss to the defense. I think the Eagles have said all the right things this week about replacing DeMeco, but until you're out on that field you just don't know how it is going to go.

I'm going to look very closely at the defense tonight. I know that Mark Sanchez at quarterback is the big story and everyone is going to have their eyes trained on him, but I want to see how the defense reacts in adverse situations. I want to see how the coaches change up the personnel packages. I want to see how some of the younger players, Mychal Kendricks is at the top of the list, play without that security blanket (Ryans) on the field.

The Eagles have done a good job playing to their players' strengths. That's only going to become more important without such a valuable player and leader on the field. This is only the first test for the defense. There are many more to come in the final half of this season and in the playoffs.

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