The approach behind Logan Ryan’s lockdown performance

Will Sullivan sent Logan Ryan two important text messages — first in the preseason, the other four weeks ago — to help unlock the Patriots cornerback’s true potential.

Coming into the regular season, the starting spot opposite Malcolm Butler was unsettled. Now, as the Pats prepare to play the Eagles today, Ryan capably holds that down.

But back to the texts.

Sullivan, who, among other pursuits, acts as a position coach for Darrelle Revis out of his Shutdown U at Fischer Institute in Phoenix, challenged Ryan’s approach.

“I said, ‘Your attitude needs to be these three things — it’s not going to make sense right when I say it — but,” Sullivan said, “it needs to click because it’s all you: You need to play with competitive, careless intelligence.’ ”

Regardless of any player’s physical or technical skills, that can be difficult to truly absorb — especially the “careless” part.

Sullivan explained that a competitive corner will always be looking for the ball to come his way but can’t afford to get paralyzed by it.

“That’s why I speak to those paralysis-by-analysis (types), those perfectionist guys. (And) when you bring up the word ‘careless,’ it’s like, ‘Whoa, I can’t be careless.’ But what I’m saying is, ‘Be loose. Don’t be afraid to make a mistake because you are intelligent.’

“If Logan’s out there and blows a play, Logan’s the type of guy that will come to the sideline and say, ‘I thought I was going to do this and I saw this on film.’ You’ll just overthink things. It’s, like, ‘Nah, man. Let the game come to you . . . (then, when the ball comes), see it, jump it and go.“

Going to the source

Coming out of Rutgers University in preparation for the NFL combine in 2013, Ryan sought out Sullivan and went to Arizona to train with the guru.

“One of the things Ryan talked about was, ‘Look, I’m not necessarily concerned about training with Darrelle,’ my big-name client,” Sullivan said. “(Ryan said), ‘My concern is about going to the source.’ ”

Ryan has spent two weeks with Sullivan every offseason since then. After Super Bowl XLIX, though, Ryan spent three months in a rented house with his family in Phoenix to expand on his training.

The sessions are the type of martial arts workouts that Logan’s father, Lester, has mastered.

Said Logan Ryan: “I relate it a lot to like a boxing gym. It’s one-on-one with the fighter and the trainer and we spend all day together. And when I’m going, not only is (Sullivan) the (defensive backs) coach, but he’ll be the receiver and try and give me a look.

“He’s not just someone with a whistle in his mouth. He’ll go up there and beat me one-on-one and then he’ll tell me why he saw what he saw. He can also flip it and play DB and show me. So it’s very one-on-one, kind of fighter-trainer type of thing.”

Not everyone can handle it, or in Sullivan’s words, be careless.

“I’ve been with some guys — I’m not going to name any names — I’ve had guys who have been such perfectionists that they (hate to) mess up one drill,” he said, “and I’ve had grown men, starters in the NFL, run out of the FieldTurf room and yell at themselves because they’ve screwed it up.”


His first two years with the Pats, Ryan was asked to play a more complementary role, mostly covering slot receivers. But when Revis and Brandon Browner left for the Jets and Saints, respectively, over the offseason, bigger opportunities arose for the 5-foot-11, 190-pounder.

After the intense technique work, Ryan participated in Sullivan’s “blood in the water” drills with the trainer’s other pupils and the “fresh meat” of local college and junior college receivers.

“Not only do you get called out by everybody, including myself,” Sullivan said, “but we keep you in drills and we try to destroy you and your confidence.”

Yet Sullivan noticed Ryan gaining confidence with each rep, developing the competitiveness aspect that was always there but not quite at a level he’d shown previously.

“It was fun kind of having a bunch of guys being gym rats and hanging out all day,” Ryan said. “Everyone has personal success. You surround yourself with players like that and at the end of the day, hopefully you can emulate that.”

Ryan has turned that into his best year as a pro so far. Matched up against bigger receivers, he’s pulled down three interceptions using the same “mirror technique” Revis does.


“I sent (those texts) to him as just a reminder: Don’t go out there and just play smart football,” Sullivan said. “You’ve got to go out there and . . . have a little (swagger) to you.

“You’ve got to have the attitude that this receiver is going against Logan Ryan, not Logan Ryan going against this receiver.”

Competitively, carelessly, intelligently, Ryan has done so.

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Neil S. Schwartz

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