Last weekend’s game against Houston was extremely costly for the Philadelphia Eagles – not only because Nick Foles (collarbone) was lost for six to eight weeks, but also because linebacker DeMeco Ryans (torn Achilles) was lost for the season.

It is the second time in five years that Ryans, 30, has seen his season end with an Achilles tear.

The Eagles will most certainly miss Ryans’ production, but they’ll also miss his leadership. In fact, Eagles coach Chip Kelly compared Ryans to Mufasa in The Lion King.

“Yeah, a very big loss,” Eagles linebacker Trent Cole said on The Doug Gottlieb Show. “He’s the quarterback of our defense. Now we pretty much got to play in his honor. The young guys and the guys behind him have to step up. They have the opportunity. I think they’re ready to step up and take that role for now. We’re still in the right direction going into this Monday night game and trying to win.”

The Eagles (6-2) host the Panthers (3-5-1) on Monday Night Football at 8:30 p.m. ET.

While Kelly and Cole have praised Ryans for being a leader, what exactly does that entail?

“Doing things the right way,” Cole said simply. “Living right, (coming) to work, doing your job, doing all the things that make you do your best as a player and also being an example for others. Losing him was a big loss to us.”

The Eagles hope to overcome the loss of Ryans as well as they overcame the loss of Foles – for one game, anyway. Philadelphia beat Houston, 31-21, as Mark Sanchez – yes, Mark Sanchez – went 15-of-22 for 202 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions.

“Things happen during the season with any team,” Cole said. “Guys go down all the time every year. When guys do go down, the next guy has to step up and fill that void there. We got Sanchez in now. He’s leading the pack now. We all have our trust in Sanchez to lead the way for now.”

Buy filling in for a game is one thing; filling in for the next two months – and possibly into the playoffs – is another thing altogether. Are the Eagles truly comfortable with Sanchez as their quarterback, especially considering how poorly things ended for him with the Jets?

“I don’t think he was in the right situation over there,” Cole said. “He’s with a great group of guys here, good players. I think his talents will show throughout this whole season here. The only thing we can do is just go game by game and let Sanchez go out there and do what he does, do what he does best and win some games.”

Given how important the quarterback is in Kelly’s offense, Sanchez cannot simply be a passenger on the Eagles’ bus; he has to be the driver.

“He’s leading the direction,” Cole said. “It’s pretty much our situation now. He has to step up and fill that void.”


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