DB Logan Ryan
September 23, 2020
Q: First half against the Bears, you guys had a problem getting off the field on third down. What was the issue there?
A: Players weren’t executing. Allen Robinson made a pretty good catch on the first one, and we just didn’t execute. We didn’t start fast. The noon kickoff, we didn’t come out ready to go. That’s uncalled for, and we’re working to start faster, we’re working to fix that. But all you can do is go in at halftime, make adjustments and make a decision. Pack it in and lose by 40 and head home early, beat the crowd but there’s no crowd obviously, so there’s no crowd to beat, or you can come back and fight. I think we did a good job of fighting in the second half. That’s all we can ask for and try to build from there.
Q: If I can follow up on that, you said coming out not ready to go. Did you mean execution wise or intensity wise?
A: Execution wise. I don’t think we executed our defense. The calls are the calls, and third down is about rush and coverage. Anyway you put it in this league, it’s about putting your pass rushers on the field, putting your best coverage guys on the field, and for whatever reason, we didn’t do our job collectively and we didn’t get it done in the first half. But we responded well in the second half, execution wise.
Q: I wanted to ask you kind of a general question. Obviously, you’ve been around a long time. When a team has a devastating injury such as Saquon Barkley’s, a player who was basically such an essential figure. How does a team kind of regroup? People tend to look at guys picking up the slack, but how does a team regroup mentally from all of that?
A: There’s only one Saquon Barkley in the world, I can tell you that. He’s a special talent. We know that. But we’re football players. I’ve been playing for a long time, all of us have been playing since we were kids, and injuries happen in football every single year. Every single year I’ve played, a really good player on my team has gotten hurt. The severity of that changes. Obviously, some years are healthier than others. It’s a collision sport and injuries 100 percent happen. I think we’re used to players getting hurt. The answer I’m going to give you is the answer you’re going to hear from the whole team, but it’s the truth. Everyone has to do more to replace Saquon Barkley. There’s not a backup we can put in that can just replicate that production. But the offensive line, the quarterback, the receivers, the running backs, myself, I need to make more plays on defense to mitigate the Saquon Barkley loss. The 49ers, they’re losing some transcendent players, too. Like I said, it’s tackle football and it happened unfortunately to Saquon. But I know he’ll come back stronger than ever.
Q: This is kind of unchartered territory for you, starting 0-2. When you look around the building and after the game on Sunday, what gives you confidence that you guys are going to be able to turn things around, especially with such a tough schedule coming up?
A: I don’t even know the schedule coming up, honestly. I know we have the 49ers and they’re a tough team. It’s a work ethic. It’s the practices. It’s how hard this team works, it’s how close we are. But we need to finish. We need to start better. It’s putting four quarters together. This team is working hard. They’re not outworking us, I promise you that. It’s just executing better in the game. I don’t know if I’ve been 0-2 before, but I was 2-4 last year and was in the AFC Championship. So, I do know something. If you have a strong locker room, if you have strong leaders, if you have guys that love to play ball and love to practice hard, you can dig yourself out of some holes here. 0-2 is horrible, but I think we’re a game out of the division here. It’s not like our division is world beaters at the moment. We’re a game out from being a division leader. It’s football. You have to keep playing the games. You have to get over the tough losses. The beautiful thing about Tuesday and Wednesday in football is you turn your page to the next week. We’re focused on the 49ers, who are coming off of some bad news on their side of things. They’re coming through some adversity as well. I’m excited to go out there and get a win. Period. This game is one that I want to win really bad, and I’m doing everything in my power to lead the team in that way.
Q: How close do you think you guys are on defense to getting over the hump there, and what do you think that’s going to take?
A: I don’t know what the hump is collectively. We had two turnovers in the second half and we didn’t let up a point. We want to play like that this game. The last two quarters, I want to continue to play like that. I want to continue to punch the ball out. I want (James) Bradberry to continue to pick it off. I want to find ways to get sacks and find ways to play better on third down and in the red area like we did in the second half. The great Dick LeBeau once told me, ‘we didn’t lose the game, we ran out of time.’ Last game, we ran out of time. It’s a loss, but hopefully, with four quarters of football, we can play like we did and we can win this game.
Q: How’s the house hunting going?
A: Breed restriction is lame. I don’t know why people give me a hard time about having a Pitbull. But we did find a house. I’m not going to give you the exact location, but we did find a house and the family should be moving up here in October, so I’m excited to get the wife and kids back.
Q: Football topic. You mentioned James Bradberry. He was a guy who kind of maybe flew under the radar for fans. I don’t know how much you knew about him before you were teammates with him. But what have you seen from him these first couple of weeks?
A: No, he didn’t fly under the radar for me. I knew him in Carolina. He’s an extremely big corner, great patience, physical. This guy was the number one corner in a division where he matched up with Julio (Jones), he matched up with Mike Evans and (Chris) Godwin, and he matched up with Michael Thomas every week. That’s a tough job to play the number one corner in the NFC South, and he’s done a good job with that. I knew he was a good player. I knew he was a good player studying him, practicing against him, playing against him. He’s just a really good corner, and he’s playing like that. We need him to be that to be good on defense, and that’s what he’s doing. The name of the game at cornerback is consistency. Just doing it week in and week out, and he’s done a good job of that for two weeks. We all need to start playing like him, for him to be consistent and to be solid for us to allow me to move around and do what I do to allow our defense to be our defense. I think it’s building and the chemistry with the guys is building, but I think James has definitely done his job. We just need to translate it to wins.
Q: You talk about starting stronger, starting faster and sort of executing earlier in games. How do you go about making that happen during the week?
A: Just starting the practice off strong. Coming out with energy, intensity. I think a lot of guys came in early this week. They got their workouts in early. I think a lot of guys were on the practice field early today, 30 minutes before practice, getting our warmups started early. I just think guys are ready to win. Guys are ready to come in the building and eager to win. Look, like I told you. I was on a team that was 2-4 last year and we didn’t pack it in. There are years where the team doesn’t start off so well and they pack it in, and some teams keep fighting and stick together. It’s a long year. For us, I don’t think we have guys that are packing it in, like I told you. Guys are just coming out, they’re doing a little bit more individually to help the collective effort.
Q: One of the things when you watch the defense, it seems like you guys are doing a good job of keeping everything in front of you. Is that the goal?
A: Yeah, the quickest way to get out of the league as a defensive back is to let the ball get caught over your head. Collectively, we’re trying to limit the big plays, limit the explosives. We played an explosive quarterback in (Ben) Roethlisberger the first week. The second week, (Mitchell) Trubisky is not so explosive but they do have some explosive pass-catchers and runners. We did a good job of limiting that. We did a good job of keeping it in front of us, we did a good job of taking the ball away. We just have to do a better job of stopping the run and a better job of getting better on third down, two-minute and red area. That’s what wins and loses championships, that’s what wins and loses games. That comes from repetition. This is a pretty fairly new group, and we don’t have the excuse of saying, ‘oh, well James’ first year in the system, I’ve been here two weeks, Darnay’s (Holmes) a rookie, Julian Love’s first year in the system.’ We don’t have that time. We’re putting that extra work in at practice to get that communication in on third down, get that communication on two-minute, and take it upon ourselves as players to play better collectively. But it’s a process. Like I said, I liked our fight in the second half. It was better than the first. We’re just trying to build from there.
Q: That second half, I know that last drive probably lasted a little longer than you guys would have liked. But did that feel like a lightbulb moment for this defense? Sort of how everything clicked?
A: I feel like that’s what the defense should be. I think when you look at some of the talent we have, our defensive line is as talented as I’ve ever been on a team. Blake Martinez is a tackling machine, obviously. He’s a really good mike linebacker. Our secondary, like I said, is new pieces of good players who are learning to get the chemistry to play together. If you ask anybody about the secondary, it’s about being a brotherhood back there. We have the burden of if the ball is caught behind us, the fans hate us, the media rips us apart. You have to really build a bond there. That’s what we’re doing really hard, to build a bond quickly. I wouldn’t call it a lightbulb moment, but I would call it a moment of what our expectations are. That’s our standard that we’re upholding, that we’re practicing to, and it’s coming to reality in the games. Yeah, we wanted the drive to end short. I didn’t know the offensive lineman is going to catch the ball and fall forward. I haven’t seen that one too many times. That’s unfortunate, but we stood on the field and we get them to miss a field goal there at the end and give our offense a chance. That’s all you can do in this league, is give your offense the ball and give them a chance to help win the game.
Q: You have to have better coverage on those guards.
A: Yeah, I’m a smart guy but I didn’t think to cover the guard on that one. I didn’t think about that one.