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DB Logan Ryan: The Good, the Great, and the Ugly

There's a lot to like about Giants defensive back Logan Ryan's game--yes, even the "ugly" parts of it. Nick Falato breaks it all down

The Giants added Logan Ryan to their roster after many rumors that he’d join the team. At the end of August, he signed a one-year, $7.6 million contract. He leveraged his excellent play, processing skills, and leadership to earn a three-year, $31 million contract, with $20 million guaranteed.

It’s a significant investment for a 30-year-old, but Ryan’s importance in Patrick Graham’s scheme is vital. Leadership and communication may be undervalued by some people who follow football;

Ryan’s ability to ensure that all the secondary pieces are in place, based on the pre-snap to post-snap positioning of the offense, their personnel, and the context of the situation, are all crucial.

Ryan has been in complex systems similar to what Graham wants to do as a defense. Graham and Ryan both have ties to New England. The knowledge base, plus the experience as a professional athlete, help Ryan ensure that there aren’t coverage breakdowns, which was one of the most significant liabilities to James Bettcher’s 2019 Giants’ defense.

According to Pro Football Focus, Ryan had 75 tackles, 19 STOPS, nine pressures, one interception, and eight passes defended. He was targeted 59 times, allowing 37 catches for 374 yards and three touchdowns.

He also earned a sack and was penalized once. He’s a great asset to pair with the young Xavier McKinney and the now contract year Jabrill Peppers. Let’s see what he adds to this defense in this edition of the Good, the Great, and the Ugly.

(Logan Ryan is No. 23.)

The Good: Run Support

Defenders have to be willing to fill the run in various ways if they want to find the football field in the modern NFL. This should be a given, but there are still tentative players to attack downhill—Ryan is not one of them. Ryan makes great plays in pursuit while filling the B-Gap, and as a secondary force defender on the edge.

Ryan takes an excellent angle through the blocks of Darnay Holmes (No. 30) and Blake Martinez (No. 54) to get a squared shot on Ezekiel Elliot (No. 21). He adjusts slightly to give himself an open road to Elliot while the blockers commit to other assignments. He’s instinctive, quick, and physical upon tackling the running back.

New York is facing 12 personnel, and it seems like it was going to be a three-deep look before the pitch to the field. Ryan is dropping back to his deep center third responsibility before he sees the pitch and starts getting downhill towards the numbers, cutting the angle of the running back off. Ryan ends up being the last line of defense here, but he fills well and makes the tackle.

This is a subtle great play from Ryan here; yes, he makes the tackle on J.D. McKissic (No. 41), but it’s how he boxes him inside towards more Giants that deserves applause. The blocks up front are solid for Washington, and Ryan comes down by the numbers and starts to flow laterally with the block from the Washington receiver.

He does this to expand the defense’s width and force McKissic to cut inside where there are more Giants; if Ryan got greedy, and attempted to make the tackle prematurely, resulting in a miss, then McKissic would have the space between the numbers and the sideline to operate. Ryan was the contain defender, and he contained well.

Having David Mayo (No. 55) as your EDGE rusher doesn’t equate to desirable outcomes, and the Giants found that out quite a bit down the stretch of the season. Ryan flies into the screen to make a strong low tackle on Kareem Hunt (No. 27), who had a lot of space to navigate, but Ryan’s angle helped assuage said angle.

This play isn’t run support, but a play that signifies Ryan’s ability to move through trash and make tackles in space, using superior pursuit skills. Dallas does a good job keeping their formations tight, causing more traffic to avoid for the pursuing defender. Ryan is keying Cedrick Wilson Jr. (No. 11).

He has the spatial awareness to work over the top of Martinez and track Wilson down before he gets into the endzone. Unfortunately, the first down was picked up, but still an impressive showing from Ryan in a tough situation.

The Great: Positioning in Coverage

Modern defenses run a ton of trap-type of coverages. This can be done from Cut, Kathy, Ruby, or Slice techniques, among many others, and Giants defensive coordinator Patrick Graham employs these in his coverages.

The objective is to show the quarterback something either pre or at the snap, effectively baiting him to make a poor decision. Ryan helps facilitate the trapping nature of Graham’s calls, and we saw this in the Tampa-2 Robber play that sealed the Giants' second victory against the Washington Football Team.

Ryan is the middle-of-the-field closed player pre-snap, and then he turns into a robbing center fielder who drops down, filling the role of the Tampa-2 linebacker. This goes unchecked by the quarterback as Love and Bradberry assume a middle of the field open type of defense in a two-high look, albeit the middle of the field isn’t fully open, with Ryan ending up about 13 yards off the line of scrimmage in the middle of the field reading the quarterback’s intentions.

He baits and relates to the backside post against this 3x1 set, undercutting the route from the middle of the field and securing a win against Alex Smith (No. 11) and the Washington Football Team.

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Ryan is at the top of the screen, dropping into a deep half. There’s a tight bunch to the field, and Ryan is watching the backside receiver again. Isaac Yiadom (No. 27) is playing inside trail technique because he knows Ryan is available for coverage over the top. Ryan is baiting the quarterback to throw this inside breaking route.

He reads Brandon Allen’s (No. 8) eyes and starts to flow to where the catch point was designed to go. Allen witnesses this and eats the ball for a sack. Ryan is great with his eyes and his ability to decipher the offense’s intentions.

Ryan gets put into challenging positions like this quite often. The defense runs many match principles where the route distribution dictates which defenders are covering which receivers. Players need to be quick with their instincts here. Ryan is reading 2 to 1 (the second inside receiver to the outermost). His job is to take the short route from this 3x1 set.

Ryan Lewis (No. 37) is going to midpoint the 2 to 1 and take the vertical player. Ryan gets the call to take the one, and he quickly darts outside to fulfill this responsibility; Logan Thomas (No. 82) seems like he’s going vertical, but he breaks his route off as well. 

The route concept stretches the defense horizontally, and the result is a catch, but this isn’t some sort of referendum on Ryan. This is a big ask, and it shows that Graham trusts Ryan in these situations. Lewis was also a bit too far off since he had Love on the near hash.

While in motion and not stable, Ryan runs to the backside receiver and has to man cover him on this fade—he does so excellently with great technique. He attacks the midpoint of the receiver, gets contact with his outside arm, presses the inside hip of the receiver, and then plays the ball with his inside arm, the way defensive backs coach Jerome Henderson teaches them. A big fourth-down stop in a one-on-one situation by Ryan.

Ryan is at the top of the screen on this play; it’s a bit difficult to see him until he comes into frame, playing hard through the catch point and forcing an incompletion.

He uses good timing and coverage while being in position outside, against the Washington Football Team here. Ryan is a master at knowing where he should go and when he should attack. He’s an undervalued asset in terms of how the public views him, yet the Giants don’t undervalue him after the contract they just awarded him.

The Ugly: Gets Risky in Coverage

I never have any issue with players who want to get a bit risky in coverage--it’s worked out for Marcus Peters—but it can result in some blown coverages and big plays. This doesn’t often happen to Ryan, but it has happened before.

Ryan is aligned over top of the number three receiver, tight end Dan Arnold (85), who does a great job sinking his hips and sealing the in route. Ryan, a player who is typically on point with position, was not on this specific play.

Ryan anticipates and sees the inward lean by Arnold, and then Ryan starts to maneuver horizontally, gaining very little depth with his coverage assignment. He’s preoccupied with watching Kyler Murray (No. 1), who is always a threat with his legs. Ryan completely loses Arnold and surrenders the touchdown.

This is an issue with assignments from Ryan; Baltimore is in 21 personnel, with two receivers to Ryan’s side in a two-high look. The Ravens send a fast two, fullback Patrick Ricard (No. 42) to the opposite side of Ryan.

The running back and tight end both release to Ryan’s side, leaving Ricard as the only receiving threat on the opposite side. In seeing this, Ryan should have known there was safety help from the other deep half player and that James Bradberry was about to be put into conflict with two crossing defenders.

Ryan gets tunnel vision and jumps on the number two receiver running the post; he trails the receiver with Martinez underneath and his adjacent safety coming from the other side of the field. This decision creates a big void from the number one receiver running a mirrored post as well.

Bradberry has to come off that route, and the continuity of the defense is faltered since there’s no one to pass Dez Bryant (No. 88) off towards. It’s an error by the defense as a whole and a good concept to take advantage of Ryan and Bradberry on the field side.

The double move gets Ryan on the play above. It’s a bad angle on the out and up at the numbers in a one-on-one situation. Ryan didn’t have safety help since Bradberry and Love were occupied with Terry McLaurin’s (No. 17) seam bender.

His angle to close on the near hip at the break was a bit too aggressive, and it left open the easy double move that transpired. These faults are more circumstantial than anything else, but acknowledging them is still worthwhile. 


More "Good, Great & Ugly" Breakdowns

WR Kelvin Benjamin | RB Devontae Booker | RB Corey Clement | OLB Lorenzo Carter | CB Isaac Yiadom | TE Kaden Smith | WR Kenny Golladay | TE Levine Toilolo | Edge Ifeadi Odenigbo | DT Danny Shelton | OL Zach Fulton | CB Adoree' Jackson | TE Evan Engram | S Jabrill Peppers | S Xavier McKinney | ILB Reggie Ragland | WR John Ross | TE Kyle Rudolph | OLB Oshane Ximines | LB Carter Coughlin | IDL Dexter Lawrence II | WR Darius Slayton | LB Cam Brown | DL Leonard Williams | OL Will Hernandez | IDL Austin Johnson | IDL B.J. Hill | WR Sterling Shepard | ILB Blake Martinez


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