Logan Ryan did not waste time trying to get the lay of the land or fit in when he joined the New York Giants before Week 1 of last season, right before the 2020 opening game. He did what Logan Ryan does.
By the time the season was two weeks old, with the Giants having fallen into an 0-2 hole they would never really climb all the way out of, it was clear that Ryan wasn’t just another player brought in to patch a hole. He was the voice, the leader, and was becoming the soul of the Giants’ defense.
Many players, outstanding ones, I have covered over the years did not want to lead. They just wanted to play, and whatever happened, happened. Ryan embraced the leadership role. He took the role upon himself. He practically demanded it. Here is what he said after the team’s Week 2 loss to the Chicago Bears:
“I don’t know if I’ve been 0-2 before, but I was 2-4 last year [with the Tennessee Titans] and was in the AFC Championship. So, I do know something. If you have a strong locker room, if you have strong leaders, if you have guys that love to play ball and love to practice hard, you can dig yourself out of some holes here,” Ryan said. “0-2 is horrible, but I think we’re a game out of the division here. It’s not like our division is world-beaters at the moment. We’re a game out from being a division leader. It’s football. You have to keep playing the games. You have to get over the tough losses.
“The beautiful thing about Tuesday and Wednesday in football is you turn your page to the next week. We’re focused on the 49ers, who are coming off of some bad news on their side of things. They’re coming through some adversity as well. I’m excited to go out there and get a win. Period. This game is one that I want to win really bad, and I’m doing everything in my power to lead the team in that way.”
Ryan cares not only about success for himself, but for the players around him and the team he is with. He won championships with the New England Patriots and played on some quality teams with the Tennessee Titans.
He has had experiences most of his teammates have not had, and he wants to show them what it takes to earn the right to have those experiences. The hours of physical and mental preparation. The personal sacrifice. He has done it all, and he willingly shares it all.
In an exceptional piece by Tyler Dunne after Ryan lost a child and nearly lost his wife, Ashley, to an ectopic pregnancy last November, this simple quote from Ryan explained, in my view, who and what he is and why coach Joe Judge wanted him in New York.
“I’m going to lead,” Ryan says, “from the front.”
And so, he does.
Let’s continue talking about Ryan as we roll through player-by-player profiles of each of the 90 players the Giants will bring to training camp in a few weeks.
Position: Defensive back
Contract: Year 1 of three-year, $31 million contract | Guaranteed: $20 million | 2021 cap hit: $7 million
Career to date
Ryan has played for eight seasons after being a third-round pick by the New England Patriots out of Rutgers in 2013. Four seasons in New England, three in Tennessee, one in New York.
He has won two Super Bowl titles. He has started 100 of 125 regular-season games and has played in 15 playoff games. He has 87 passes defended, 18 interceptions, and 12 forced fumbles. He has morphed from a wide cornerback who played some slot corner, to a slot cornerback who played wide sometimes, and in New York to a cagey defensive back with a “free safety” label who moved all over. For Patrick Graham in 2020, Ryan played 512 snaps at free safety, 246 in the box, 221 in the slot, and 31 as an outside cornerback.
Ryan has never been named an All-Pro or voted to a Pro Bowl. He has never been “The Man” or the acknowledged best player in any secondary he has been part of. He has just worked, played whatever role he was asked to play to the best of his ability, and, increasingly as his career has gone on, been a leader who tried to bring the best out of the players surrounding him.
Before the end of last season, the Giants rewarded him with a three-year, $31 million contract that kept him off the free-agent market.
Leadership and play-making. What else would you expect from Ryan in 2021?
The leadership part has been on display throughout the offseason.
Ryan took time out of his offseason to fly into New Jersey to help the Giants’ recruiting pitch to free-agent cornerback Adoree’ Jackson, a teammate and friend from their days together with the Titans.
“Me and Adoree’ go back a couple franchises. He’s a great friend of mine and a great player. He’s a great teammate. He loves to play ball,” Ryan said in explaining why he pitched Jackson on the Giants. “He’s super talented and I’m just a believer in him because I see how hard he works day-to-day.”
Ryan also pulled many of the team’s defensive backs together this offseason for a workout in Florida similar to what quarterbacks and receivers often do.
“Just something I’ve seen for years. Daniel [Jones], great leaders, a lot of quarterbacks in the league get their guys and receivers together for timing and what Daniel did in Arizona, I was out there for that. I really just wanted to bring the guys down and just have some time to ourselves. It was tough last year, joining the team so late and not really having an opportunity to bond with the guys,” Ryan said.
So I just think those guys got to see how I work day-to-day, and we got to talk a lot about how we would play things and we actually had a boating trip and I think [James] Bradberry said he didn’t catch any fish, okay, but we talked a lot about coverage and Bradberry talking about how he was covering a guy, and really it was cool sharing stories how we covered guys in the league, so it was a great opportunity.”
Ryan hopes the play-making part will be aided by the fact that he has had an offseason and will have a preseason with the team.
“I wasn’t here last year, right. I wasn’t here at this time last year and I wasn’t playing safety at this time last year. I am light years ahead personally. I don’t think you hit the ground running. You hit it learning. It’s definitely that time of the year,” Ryan said. “I always believe with preparation, you’re only going to play as good as your preparation, so with more reparation and a year’s worth of reps under your belt, you should be able to perform faster and more detailed and the game should slow down for you.”
Ryan is not the Giants’ best player. He probably isn’t even their best defensive back. All of the things we have talked about, though, will continue to make him one of the team’s most important players.