Safety Logan Ryan
December 9, 2020
Q: We see you a lot kind of playing games with the quarterback in the middle of the field. I’m just curious, it’s not something I’m sure you always did, you didn’t play safety most of your career, so how different is it? How do you prepare for it? How do you get ready for that and what’s that like?
A: I think it’s a lot of fun disguising. I mean, I didn’t play safety my entire career, but I was a slot, a nickel, a star player. If you ask a lot of quarterbacks, like [QB] Colt [McCoy], if he can’t figure out what I’m doing at practice, he might look at [CB] Darnay [Holmes] to tell what our defenses might be. I know for sure in Tennessee I was doing a lot of fake blitzing, blitzing, lining up in a blitz – there’s no way he’s going to blitz if he shows it and actually blitz. It’s a way to show pressure and stuff, so I kind of got used to that. In Tennessee, we had Dean Pees come over out of retirement from Baltimore and I watched a lot of Eric Weddle film and I was like, ‘Man, if I play free safety again, I’m going to be all over the place like Eric Weddle.’ And in New England we had a lot of complex disguises, so I just really wanted to bring that here. I really had a lot of freedom to play against the quarterback. I don’t even know if I was on the screen last game. I was so deep and doing so many different things to make [Seahawks QB Russell Wilson] hold the ball an extra second, to make him confused on what we were doing, give our pass rush extra time, give our coverage a little extra time, so sometimes that’s what you’ve got to do for the betterment of the team and I think I’ve become pretty good at it and want to continue to do it.
Q: When you do the fake blitzing stuff and going back and forth, do you pre-plan that? Do you just kind of go with the flow?
A: I think it’s a feel throughout the game. You try to switch it up throughout the series. I think it would be similar to a quarterback switching up his cadence to get people to jump offsides or switching up his code words – I know Peyton Manning made a living out of switching up his signals, where this signal might mean something one series and the next series it doesn’t mean that. I know, for instance, on [S Jabrill] Peppers’ sack last game, I told him, ‘You do so much fake blitzing and bluffing, just line up in the blitz. They’re not going to believe if you just line up that you’re actually coming because who would do that?’ And he lined up and he went and he destroyed everybody in the backfield and it worked out. And he was like, ‘Man, you’re a genius.’ Sometimes, if you’re going to play Poker and bluff, sometimes you’ve got to actually have the cards, sometimes you’ve got to show what you have. I think it’s a combination. We do it based on the quarterback, we do it based on series, we just do whatever we feel like is going to make him struggle from series to series.
Q: [Defensive Lineman] Leonard Williams has obviously had a great season on the field, but [Head Coach] Joe [Judge] and [Defensive Coordinator] Patrick Graham both have talked about how his personality off of it is infectious and he has a really big impact on the locker room. Have you noticed that since you’ve gotten here?
A: Yeah, I think Leonard’s a great soul. Leonard will go out there, if we touch down in L.A., he’s going to take his shoes off and he’s going to ground a little bit, get some grounding in. I practice my mindfulness, so me and Leonard do a lot of this right here and he’s a Zen master. I just feel like Leonard has a really good soul, he’s a really good human being in person off the field. He’s huge and people would think he’s just this fierce, ferocious personality, but he’s not and I just think he does a good job turning it on and off on the field and having a good mindset and being a good person. Our defense couldn’t work without Leonard, especially the way he’s doing.
Q: Just as a little follow on Leonard there, you saw him on the other side of the field with the Patriots and Jets for a long stretch. He got a lot of flack for not sacking the quarterback enough, but he always got close and did a lot of disruption. I’m curious what you’re seeing this year of him with you guys. He’s finishing, he seems to be finishing more. Is it scheme? What are you seeing out of him?
A: I don’t think sacks always tell the story. Like I tell you, this is the ultimate sacrificial sport. If Leonard causes a lot of disruption and his job is to flush the quarterback and make the quarterback get off the spot so that someone else can run him down – [LB] Tae Crowder, [LB] Carter Coughlin – then Leonard did his job. In the meeting room, he got a plus and at the end of the game we held them to 12 points, 17 points, whatever it may be. I know we look at sacks and we look at interceptions and we look at these stats that say, ‘Oh, this guy is a great player. His PFF is through the roof and he had an interception,’ that could’ve been a tipped ball that came right to him. But a lot of guys make an impact on the field because it’s a team sport. I know Leonard’s disruptive, I think [DL] Dalvin [Tomlinson] is having as good of a year as anybody on our defense. He’s the nose guard getting double-teamed every play, but he’s taking up two blocks, causing disruption, getting interior push so [Buccaneers QB] Tom Brady and these quarterbacks can’t step up against us. He might not get credited with a sack every game, but he’s just as important. To us, the stats, we don’t chase them. Like I said, last game I was off the camera half the game, but we won and I would do that every game if they asked me to. Honestly, it’s a team sport and we can’t run our defense without our defensive line. Leonard’s having a great year statistically, but he’s having a better year for our team and what we ask him to do. I just think he’s doing a good job of buying into what we’re asking him to do and they’re a great front that allows us to do a lot of things.
Q: Just as a quick follow-up, a guy that you’re very familiar with, Patrick Graham. Can you talk about what makes him special from where you’ve gotten to know him? What stands out about him to you?
A: He’s a great human being. I think that he’s outworking everybody. He’s staying up late, he’s drawing up more defenses, he has the willingness to call the defenses, he has the willingness to change people’s positions from game to game. What we ran last week isn’t necessarily what we’re going to run this week because it might not give us the best chance to beat the Arizona Cardinals, which is all we care about. I just think his willingness to keep working, not to say, ‘Ah, I’ve got it. I’m the best coordinator. I’m up for a head coaching job. I’m going to just run what I ran last week, it was a masterpiece.’ No, he’s going to go back to the lab, come out with 25 new defenses and we’re going to try to run them and see what looks good and what doesn’t. He’s not afraid to call them in a game and he’s not afraid to ask my feedback. He’s not afraid to ask my feedback, [LB] Blake Martinez’s feedback, Leo, Dalvin, [CB James Bradberry] – ’James, are you comfortable with this? Are you comfortable covering this guy this way? Are you good with this coverage? Let’s call stuff to our strengths.’ So, he’s not afraid to have his players’ input on the game plan. I feel like it’s a cooperative effort, but at the same time he’s up in the lab drawing up defenses giving us ways to win.
Q: You mentioned Jabrill earlier. Is he a unique player and why do you guys seem to fit so well together?
A: Jabrill’s a really good football player and we fit well together because we both love ball. Like, Jabrill loves ball. Now I understand why he played three positions in college, or more. Now I understand why he played offense and didn’t want to come off the field and returned punts. He just loves playing football. He has that joy of when you start playing the game, a 6-, 7-, 8-year-old kid who plays offense, defense, the punt returner, the kick returner. That’s Jabrill. He loves having the ball in his hands, he loves physical play, he plays multiple positions in our defense. We get moved around a lot and we love making plays and we love helping our teammates make plays. I’m excited for him, I feel like he’s playing the best ball of his career and so I like a lot of things that he does because of the versatility in our defense. I just think he’s willing and able and selfless to do everything he does for the team, put his body on the line every week, put his heart and soul, match whoever on the other team. How much energy [Seahawks S] Jamal Adams is bringing, I think Jabrill’s going to match that and beat it and be our energy plug in a sense. So, I just think it’s really good for him, happy he’s playing good ball.
Q: I know this is kind of down the road, it’s not right on the radar, but the Brown game was flexed. Now you’ve been on teams that are in the playoff push your whole career and that’s what happens, everyone wants to see your team play. How do you and your teammates embrace that because you always want to be noticed as being a good team in the playoffs, but also keep it away? This is what comes with the territory when you start winning, right? What does it mean about how this team is now being noticed? You guys are in first place and fighting for first place against the Cardinals. People are noticing the Giants now, nobody was noticing the Giants the last three years.
A: It means nothing, to answer your question. It means absolutely nothing. Look, the Arizona Cardinals have the number one red area offense, they have the number four rushing offense, [Cardinals QB] Kyler Murray is the top rushing quarterback, [Cardinals WR] DeAndre Hopkins is the best receiver we’ve seen all year, [Cardinals WR] Larry Fitzgerald is a Hall of Fame receiver. They run the most tempo in the NFL, number one tempo offense, we haven’t seen an offense that runs as much tempo as them. So, the Browns being flexed, it means absolutely nothing because I’ve got to worry about this tempo these guys are about to give us, I’ve got to worry about DeAndre Hopkins, I’ve got to worry about Larry Fitzgerald, I’ve got to worry about Kyler Murray, so that’s 100 percent of what my worries and concerns are and they turn to non-worries and non-concerns during the game when I prepare all week.
Q: We talked a lot last week about the offense having its backup quarterback, but you guys had to finish with your backup quarterback with Blake out on the final drive. How do things change if he’s not able to play and how were you able to come up with that stop at the end without him on the field?
A: Yeah, I mean, I’m the backup quarterback, I get the green dot when Blake goes down, so I’m always excited a little bit. I hope he’s well, but anytime I get the green dot, get to call the huddle a little bit, it takes you back to my quarterback days, so it’s fun. Look, I told him, ‘Hey, don’t worry about it, buddy. Don’t kill yourself to come back here, we need you and we’re going to win this game.’ I told you our mindset and it’s been beautiful this season losing those games early, learning how to win, losing the tight games, not finishing in two-minute, not finishing games the right way we should be, we’ve been finishing them. And when we play good in the red area, we play good in two-minute, we play good on third down, we get more turnovers, we tend to win, so we’ve found a little formula here and that’s the formula for everybody obviously to play good football. We’re learning, we learn from doing it right, we learn from doing it wrong, we learn from not getting deep enough at the end of the game, not making the right plays, not tackling. I think we have confidence that if we’re in the end of the game, we have some prior bads and goods to learn from to give us the experience to handle those situations better than we have in the past.