NASHVILLE – All seven years he has been in the NFL, Logan Ryan has been a problem for opposing quarterbacks.
In four seasons with the New England Patriots, he got his hands on a good number of their passes. Since he joined the Tennessee Titans three years ago, he more often has gotten his hands directly on the quarterbacks.
Ryan has 11 career sacks, eight and a half of them as a member of the Titans. All, in fact, have come in the last two seasons under current defensive coordinator Dean Pees. He had four in 2018 and a career-high four and a half in 2019. His total is the most by any NFL cornerback over that span and he is the only one at his position with at least four sacks twice in the last three years.
“He's a smart, instinctive player,” Patriots coach Bill Belichick said. “He's had a really good year. Probably one of the better starters – well, nickelbacks – we've seen all year. Played very well.
“… They blitz him some – some man zone, blitz zone. He's very good on disguise, all the things that he's always done well.”
As a member of the Patriots, he actually was better at defending passes than he was at preventing them. Of his 17 career interceptions, 13 came with New England. He had at least two every year he was in that defense beginning with a career-high five his rookie year.
This season, he has put it all together.
With four and a half sacks and four interceptions, he became the third defensive back in the last decade with at least four of each. The other two were safeties, Mike Mitchell (Oakland, 2013) and Landon Collins (N.Y. Giants, 2016).
He also has set career-highs with 19 passes defensed and four forced fumbles. And he has done it all in the wake of a broken leg that caused him to miss the final two games of 2018
“I know how much work I put in personally since the offseason to come back off a leg injury and to have a productive season,” Ryan said. “I work for moments like these to help my team in the playoffs, to help my team each and every week no matter what that is.”
If he proves problematic for the Patriots in Saturday’s wild card game at Gillette Stadium (7:15 p.m., CST, CBS), New England’s quarterback – Tom Brady – will have no one to blame but himself and his primary target, wide receiver Julian Edelman.
“A lot of my work ethic and the things I do I learned from, or saw Tom Brady and Julian Edelman do,” Ryan said. “I know if I’m up at 5:30 [a.m.], (they’re) up at 5:30. So we’re going to be getting up early all week for each other.”