DB Logan Ryan
November 25, 2020
Q: Xavier McKinney is back on the field. I think you were signed when he was hurt to kind of fill the role that he was playing. How confident are you that you guys can play on the field together?
A: Weapon X. Yeah, I didn’t get a chance to play with him based on when I was signed. He’s got to sit there and he’s worked hard to rehab and recover. We’ll see how we use him. I’m not going to give away that game plan and tell you what that is. I’m confident in any role the team asked me, whatever position that may be. I think it’s his job to do what the team his asking him. There’s no worry, there’s no egos about that there. I think you’re talking to the wrong guy when it comes to worrying about that. We have a lot of versatile players. We’re getting healthier, we’re getting better. We’re getting talented players back. I’m excited to see how it unfolds. That’s Pat Graham’s job to stay up late and design those defenses, I only do a couple of them, but he does the rest. That’s his job to figure that out. You can never have too many good players on the field.
Q: You guys are getting a back up quarterback again this week. What’s the danger there for a young team with facing a backup quarterback? Is there a chance you guys get overconfident?
A: We have three wins, we’re confident but nobody in this building should be overconfident. Backup quarterbacks have won some games against us. Every quarterback won some games against us early in the year. (I’ve) Watched a lot of him (Brandon Allen). He’s got probably the best receiver corps in the league to throw to. That makes it easier for any quarterback. When you have Gio Bernard at running back, Tee Higgins, Tyler Boyd, AJ Green and you pick them. All those guys are going to be getting open and catching the ball. We have our work cut out for us there. He has some familiarity with Zac Taylor and the Rams offense. We played the Rams, obviously watched him a little bit at the Rams. Obviously when he came in for Denver last year he was throwing the ball to (Courtland) Sutton all over the place. It seems like this guy is not afraid to push the ball down field. He’s not worried about that. They have some guys who can catch the ball down the field. We’re very fortunate to be in this situation. We’ve worked hard to be in it, however it started. We’re here and we’re playing meaningful football in November. That’s all you can ask for, a guy in his eighth year, that’s all I can ask for. This game is the biggest game of the year in my opinion and we’ll be ready to go for it.
Q: You guys have been sitting around for two weeks. People are picking you to win the division now. As someone who has kind of been on the hunted team for a long time, how much do you feel the need to keep pushing that? That hey we have only won three games.
A: Yeah, that’s the reality of it. I’ve been on a hunted team and I was the hunter last year in Tennessee. I’ll tell you over and over again, I was a hunter at Rutgers. My whole life I have been hunting. That’s just what it is. We’re fortunate to have the opportunity to be in this thing and everyone in the division is. We see how hard it is to win in the NFL. It’s not easy. We’ve lost so many times and we didn’t have the ability to finish so many times. We learned how to finish; we’re learning how to win games. We’re still doing that. The season isn’t over. We have a final road here to go and I think we just have to be very grateful for the moment. The urgency is up in my voice because the urgency is up on the team to win this game, to finish this game. To start the game well and there’s plenty of things to work on. We’re not number one in nothing in the league. We have a lot of ways to go there. We’re a Joe Judge team, we’re going to keep working every day, he’s not going to let your head get too big. I don’t have to do much after Joe talks to the team.
Q: How much has this defense grown? Specifically, as far as what you guys can disguise coverage wise because guys are more comfortable and more familiar with the schemes?
A: I feel like my biggest strength is before the snap, no doubt I think I do some good things after the snap. My biggest strength to me I think as a football player is my ability to disguise. To take a secondary, make them a brotherhood. To believe in one another, to trust on another. To make the players around me jobs’ easier with what we do pre-snap. I think guys are buying into it. It might make your job harder if you’re showing all the way over to the left field and you’re playing center field. That might make my assignment a little bit harder, but it could make it a little bit easier on James Bradberry. A little easier for James, a little easier for Darnay (Holmes). It might make the quarterback hold the ball a split-second so Leo (Leonard Williams) can get there, so Dalvin (Dalvin Tomlinson) can get there. I feel like when you have success with it, you see some quarterbacks struggle, it makes you buy into more, it’s an addiction. You kind of get into it a little bit more. What can I push? What can I get away with? What’s the boundaries? I think it’s an art to it. I feel like we’re becoming really good at it really quickly. Guys are trusting one another to help them out. Disguise it so this guy can get free blitz. Doing this so this guy can get open. I feel like we’re having some success with it. I think Pat does a good job of calling it and when to roll it out there. With disguise, you have to be willing line up in it sometimes and show the defense what it is. When you’re playing poker, you can’t bluff everything. You have to kind of give them it sometimes too. I think it’s finding that balance. I do a lot of studying on make it hard as a quarterback. For what I got of him on tape, we’re going to disguise a lot. That’s how we have been having some success here and I want to continue to do that.
Q: Logan, going back to the backup quarterback question, this is a quarterback that one of your coaches, [Outside Linebackers] Coach Bret [Bielema], actually had on his college team. Just wondering if that brings any kind of advantage because Bret knows him so well. And if so, what kind of advantage can that give you in preparing for him?
A: I think so. I want to know what type of bubble gum he likes, you know? I’m just one of those guys. Tell me something to go out there to trash talk with that day. He knows him, I definitely want to know as much as I can about the opponent, it’s kind of how I am as a player. It might let me know how he handles pressure, how he handles adversity, is he a fighter, how does he handle when things are going well or when they’re not going well. That might help the game plan a little bit, but you grow as a player, you self-evaluate, you self-scout, you might not have been so good at something in college and you worked on it or whatever it may be, so it is what it is. Some information some players can’t handle, some can. I like to get it all and see what works. There’s some players I don’t talk trash to because I know it turns them up – like don’t talk trash to that guy, that’s going to get him going to the next level, you know? I’m going to take everything I can from it and try and give us the best game plan and the best opportunity to win.
Q: You just used the phrase ‘grow as a player.’ You have a lot of young guys on this team who haven’t played meaningful games in November and December, I know you’ve played a lot of them. Is there something about playing in those games that can help these guys grow as players, that can help them be better players going forward?
A: I think so. When the stakes are high, I think it brings the best out of everybody, it brings the truth out of everybody I would say. In order to get to meaningful games in November, you’ve got to play some games in September and October. With those guys, we had to go through that, we had to take our bumps and bruises and lick our wounds, and you have to learn something from that. You have to learn something from those September losses that you can bring to November. And really, you’ve got to keep your confidence high. You know, society remembers your last game, that’s how it is in this sport, so you’ve got to be able to reset at every single game. And I promise you those guys were trying hard – and I was trying hard – in September, too. I just feel like we are who we are, we’re getting better as a team, we’re believing in one other and regardless, we have to play our best football now. There’s no more time to wait, there was on preseason, there was no first four games we called preseason, there was no games four through eight. It is what it is, every team is in November now and the division is extremely even, so it’s irrelevant. This game’s the most important game just because of the time of the year and the next one will be more important than this one. I’m confident in our guys, I’m confident they know how to prepare and get ready for the game.