Defensive Back Logan Ryan
Q: What do you think of that approach that (Head Coach) Joe (Judge) had with these practices, early in the week getting a really light workload in that time?
A: I think it's a Tuesday. Typically, we wouldn't be on the field in a normal week today anyway. I think Joe does a great job of adjusting throughout the year on what the team needs. Obviously, the team needs to get healthy. We had a good stretch kind of at the midway point here, great opponents, played on a short week last week coming off the Monday Night game. Have a pretty long break until the next Monday Night game. I just think he's doing what's best for the team needs, and that's get healthy and make some improvements going into the bye week.
Q: Is that the most important thing that you guys need right now, to get healthy?
A: That's what we can control right now. We can control getting healthy, resting, cleaning up some things, watching film. But for sure, we need to get some guys back, have a strong push and we need to continue playing some good ball on defense and get some of our playmakers back on offense, and put it all together.
Q: Do you guys look at the standings at all this week big-picture, seeing where you guys are compared to the rest of the NFC, that seventh seed? Does it help last year that you started off poorly, only had the five or six wins and you were in it until the end, so you know every game matters?
A: To be honest with you, I'm not looking at the standings at all. It's way too early to tell, but some upsets throughout this week which we saw. That's the beauty of the NFL, you've got to line it up every Sunday and you never know. You're chasing improvement and I think we've been improving these last couple of weeks and we've got to continue that trend.
Q: How do you feel about where the defense is at as you head into this halfway point?
A: I feel pretty good. I think the areas that I've talked about before – red area, third down, keeping those points down, two-minute – I think those are areas of emphasis and areas we improved on. I still think we can improve our tackling. We've been getting more turnovers, which is always the goal of defense, to get them off the field and make them kick field goals if they're in that position and get the ball. We've been doing a better job of that and we've got to continue doing that. Speaking to (Raiders Quarterback) Derek Carr a lot and (Raiders Quarterback) Marcus Mariota, who I'm close friends with, they had trouble with our disguise, so I think that's getting better and that just takes time to work on that. We saw that kind of happen last year as the season progressed. It just takes reps with the unit to work on disguise to make it better and make it hard on these really good quarterbacks. We've had a stretch of a bunch of them lately.
Q: You talked about the offensive guys getting healthy again. As a defender, when you look at what you guys put out on offense, would it be nice to see everybody back?
A: Ideally, when you have your roster you want to have everybody healthy. That's how it's constructed, but you also need depth. It's football, it's 100 percent injury rate. A lot of guys are banged up, a lot of guys aren't playing completely healthy. Some guys can't play, some guys are getting healthy or getting closer. Ideally, you want your playmakers on the field. It gives us the best chance to win when your star players are on the field and that's what they get paid to do. That will give us a better chance to win without a doubt, but I just think you've got to give credit to DJ (Quarterback Daniel Jones) and the guys who have been out there holding it down and finding different ways to compete, different ways to win like we've had the last couple of weeks. Defensively understanding with some of our guys down on offense that we need to step up and win the games and step up and control the tempo of the games. We took that upon ourselves in the darkest times to each step up and play a lot better, and I think we've done that.
Q: We all saw what (Safety) Xavier (McKinney) did in that game. When you watch the film and you look at the totality of his season and his career so far, how high is this kid's ceiling and what do you think about him?
A: I'm not here to talk about ceiling. I mean, it's through the roof. He's a really good player, he's a smart player, he works hard. He's productive because he's good at finding the ball in the air. The good thing about Xavier is he had a ton of success in college obviously, and he came from a program that is used to that. He's able to come to work each and every day and he doesn't seem like he's acting any differently with the success. He seems like it's what he expects of himself and what we expect of him. With (Safety) Jabrill (Peppers) going down, (there are) more opportunities for me and Zay, and I think it was our best game as a tandem last game of doing our job for the most part and at the end of the game making the plays necessary for our team to win the game. We put a lot on our shoulders back there as signal-callers, as leaders. I'm in year nine, he's in year two – basically, it's game 12 of his career and he's playing well beyond his years, and that's what we expect him to do.
Q: Can you give us an example of how – we keep hearing (Assistant Head Coach/Defensive Coordinator) Patrick Graham simplified everything and that's the same thing he did last year around the midpoint. Can you give us an idea of how things have gotten simpler, what it allows you guys to do and why in the last two years has that happened in October for you guys rather than clicking in Week 3?
A: We talked about it after games, simplifying. I think Pat's as good as any coach in the league of listening to his players and listening to his coaches and not being afraid to take advice from the players. I think on my 'Mic'd Up' it might come out, but we talked about changing the defense a little bit in the fourth quarter that led to some big plays that a coach told Pat to run or a player told Pat to run, Pat was willing to call it and willing to use that. I think he does a great job of adjusting throughout the year and listening to his players saying, 'Although we thought this was going to be what we practiced all week, actually I think we need to run this,' and he does a great job in implementing that. I don't think we're any simpler. I think we're executing better. I think Pat's done a great job of choosing things that we do well and calling the things we do well in critical situations, like third down and red area, as opposed to trying to have the perfect defense for what they might run, kind of going back to what we do well and let them beat us in that and putting guys in position to make plays. I think Pat does a great job of listening.
Q: Instead of simpler, it might be paired down a little bit?
A: I think understanding. I think he has a great knowledge of who his players are and what we do best. It might not be what you pictured in the offseason, it might not be how we had this guy and we're going to run this this year, we're going to run more man-to-man this year. That was the big talk, like we got (Cornerback) Adoree' (Jackson), it's going to be man-to-man every play. That's not the case. Understanding what's best for our team throughout the year and not being afraid to adjust and go with what the guys are doing best.
Q: What do you think of the term, 'bend, but don't break'? Is that a negative thing for the defense? Do you embrace it? How do you view that?
A: I just think that's a cliché in football. I think that's being good in situational football, which is third down and red area. I think every defense wants to be a, 'don't bend, don't break,' but offenses are going to move the ball at times. They have good players, they're going to move the ball, but at the end of the day that drive comes to a third down, that drive comes to a red area stop or a red area play, that dictates three points or four points, seven points, whatever it may be. I think you've just got to be really good in the critical situations.
Q: On that fumble, did you go for the ball or did you go for (Raiders Running Back Josh) Jacobs?
A: I went for Jacobs. I had a basketball coach tell me, 'First team to the floor on loose balls normally wins.' I saw him bending down to pick it up and I figured if I cleared him out, we had a better chance again. I tried to (Troy) Polamalu punch it to our goal line – I don't know if that's, you know, whatever – but I tried to Polamalu it and I cleared him out and we were able to get (Defensive Lineman Leonard) Leo (Williams) on the floor. There are some pictures of it, and I think you saw our guys diving to get the ball and I think you saw some of them bending to pick it up. Rule number one in basketball, you've got to dive for loose balls.