New England Patriots: Logan Ryan

Patriots pick Jemea Thomas in 6th

May, 10, 2014
May 10
FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- The pick: Jemea Thomas, DB, Georgia Tech (206th overall).

My take: This is the first defensive back the Patriots have selected and it's easy to see what the Patriots like in Thomas, who at 5-foot-9 1/4 and 192 pounds is undersized but instinctive. He caught the eye of colleague Field Yates in April based on the way he reads coverages and works in the weight room, and Scouts Inc. noted he "loves the game." Thomas' name also came up in the pre-draft process as a comparable player, in part, to 2013 Patriots third-round pick Logan Ryan. Thomas' ticket for a roster spot, as it often is for late sixth-round picks, will start on special teams. He has experience covering punts.

Safety depth chart: Devin McCourty, Duron Harmon, Patrick Chung, Tavon Wilson, Nate Ebner, Kanorris Davis, Jemea Thomas

Logan Ryan trickle-down effect: There has been some chatter, first noted by the Boston Herald, about the Patriots possibly working cornerback Logan Ryan at safety. One wonders how the addition of Thomas might alter any plans along those lines because this now adds a seventh safety to the roster. It also looks like Thomas has corner-safety position flexibility. Another factor to consider at the position is that Devin McCourty is in the final year of his contract, so Thomas, should he develop, adds another young player to the pipeline.

What's next: The Patriots have one more draft pick, in the seventh round (244th).

Ex-Bucs GM weighs in on Revis

March, 29, 2014
Mar 29
BRISTOL, Conn. -- Just as teams have been busy signing free agents this offseason, ESPN has been as well.

The latest NFL Insider is former Buccaneers GM Mark Dominik, who can be seen on NFL Insiders and read on ESPN Insider on

We had the chance to catch up with Dominik to pick his brain on new Patriots cornerback Darrelle Revis, a player he acquired via trade during the 2013 offseason.

Below are some of his thoughts.

On what makes Revis an elite CB:
"Revis to me, in spending time around him, has unique anticipation. Elite anticipation is probably the right way to use it. He has a way of feeling it, understanding routes, reading the hops of players, reading the eyes, [the] general feel and he's exceptional with ball skills. He knows how to break on the ball, where to use his hands to avoid penalties, and he obviously has soft hands for interceptions. His ball awareness and ball skills, and then again anticipation, are what make him an elite corner."

On Revis' size and speed, which some people might underrate:
"You know, he's bigger than you think. With Darelle, because of his quickness and he has no wasted motion in his transitions, there's not an extra step, and so, you think Darelle is going to be this 5-10, 5-11, 195-pound corner, he's every bit of 6 foot and change, and he's a 205-pound corner. So he's a big, thick corner, which I think makes him physical enough against the run and certainly gives him a chance to match up against those more physical receivers."

On whether he could be used in the slot:
"You could, but I think you'd waste him in the slot. I don't see that being a strength of Darrelle. I think he's always going to be a perimeter guy because of the crossing patterns you run out of the slot. I think he's better up at the line of scrimmage, using his hands, and then allow him to just play with anticipation."

On Revis as a person:
"Darrelle is very low maintenance, very down to earth. Not full of himself, a really good dude, soft spoken, but will speak when he feels like he needs to. He's a great teammate that way. And really, he's a good man. He comes from a good family, his mother is a wonderful lady, and Darrelle's a unique person, and I think he doesn't usually talk much unless he's provoked. And Darrelle just lets his play talk."

On whether he believes Revis' knee, which was surgically repaired following a 2012 ACL tear, is an issue anymore:
"No. I think Darrelle played last year a little cautious throughout most of the year, just because he wasn't quite sure. And I don't blame him. Coming off an ACL as a cornerback, a lot of guys have made that transition, and sometimes it takes more than a year. I think Darrelle still played at a very high level, we put him in some tough spots in terms of coverage, but at the end of the day he still was what I thought was the elite corner that we traded for. That's why I think it's a great acquisition for the New England Patriots."

We also had the chance to tap into Dominik for some thoughts on a pair of other Patriots cornerbacks that have drawn interest this offseason

On Brandon Browner:
"Brandon Browner is a huge corner. Just really long from his ankle to knee and then his knee to his arms. I mean that's what his advantage is. He's going to be a little bit tighter in space, short-area quickness, [those are] the things he's going to struggle with. He's going to come up and maul you at the line of scrimmage, beat you up, and he'll tackle you. They have big corners, thick corners, and that's obviously what coach Belichick is looking for."

On Logan Ryan:
"Very smart football player, extremely smart. Understands angle, good positioning. Again, good with his hands, and he has enough speed. His big thing that everybody talks about is the top-end speed, but again, if you get a pass rush and you get a guy who understands early stuff and uses his hands well, you can eliminate some of that speed deficiency, and I think Logan can do that."

'13 to '14: Comparing Logan Ryan

February, 26, 2014
Feb 26
When Atlanta Falcons general manager Thomas Dimitroff touched on scouting at the NFL combine, he noted the value of experience. Specifically, Dimitroff spoke about how a veteran scout can effectively compare a prospect to a pool of past players who had a similar skill set.

With this in mind, we decided to put our own one-year twist on it by looking at last year's Patriots draft picks and matching their combine/pro day results with those from this year's class to see who might be a comparable prospect.

Obviously, combine-type testing is only a small part of the story, which is important context.

Today's focus is on cornerback Logan Ryan (third round, 83rd overall), who previously made the point that his pre-draft training was geared toward playing in the NFL, not the combine/getting drafted high.

Height: 5-foot-11
Weight: 191 pounds
Hand measurement: 9 5/8
40-yard dash: 4.56
Vertical jump: 32.5"
3-cone drill: 6.69
Bench press: 14

2014 comparable: Ryan's 6.69 in the 3-cone drill rated among the top of 2013 defensive backs, and it would have been one of the best times this year as well. Texas Christian's Jason Verrett had the same time this year, and he's viewed as arguably the top slot corner in this year's draft. Verrett's lack of size (5-9, 189) might concern some teams, which wasn't an issue with Ryan, who was viewed as one of the sturdier, best tackling cornerbacks in last year's draft. Verrett's 4.38 in the 40 also helps separate him from a speed perspective. Ryan was viewed by some teams as more of a corner-safety type, so from a pure testing standpoint, a combination of Verrett and Georgia Tech safety Jemea Thomas comes to mind as a comparable.

Offensive linemen shine in drills

February, 22, 2014
Feb 22
INDIANAPOLIS -- The on-field work has begun here in Indianapolis, with the offensive linemen, tight ends and specialists all taking center stage at Lucas Oil stadium.

Perhaps the headline event at the combine is the 40-yard dash, as evidenced by Adidas offering $100,000 to the fastest player wearing their adizero 5-star cleat.

The offensive linemen have wowed so far today, with top prospects such as Greg Robinson of Auburn and Taylor Lewan of Michigan posting sub-4.9-second times.

Truth be told, the 40 time of offensive linemen isn’t high on teams’ scouting checklist; rather, they often focus more on their 10-yard splits to measure explosiveness.

From a New England Patriots' perspective, one of the drills the team values is the three-cone drill, which, among other things, measures short-area burst and change-of-direction skill.

It’s a drill the team particularly values in assessing defensive backs and slot receivers.

Logan Ryan, the team’s third selection in last year’s draft, finished second among defensive backs at the combine with a time of 6.69 seconds. Wide receiver Josh Boyce was third among wide receivers with a time of 6.68, and undrafted rookie T.J. Moe had the second best time among all participants at 6.53.

The wide receivers work out on Sunday, and defensive backs work out Tuesday. Though all the drills are weighed and considered in the evaluation process, the three-cone is something to keep an eye on from a Patriots' perspective.

Pats improve in Kiper regrade

January, 23, 2014
Jan 23
One of our first instincts following the NFL draft is to assess how teams fared in the process.

Following last year's draft, ESPN NFL draft expert Mel Kiper Jr. graded the Patriots' class as a C+, noting at the time: "I don't see a starter out of this draft in the short-term, but they added players with some really good traits. It's just a matter of development now."

With a full season of tape study under his belt, Kiper has re-graded each team's draft class, and the Patriots' mark improved to a B.

"Is there a star in this draft, or even a Pro Bowl-caliber player? Maybe not," Kiper writes. "But that doesn't mean the Patriots didn't do an incredible job of plugging gaps with rookies they drafted and those they picked up as undrafted free agents to keep the ship afloat as long as they did."

"Bill Belichick deserves a lot of credit for utilizing these guys to the best of their ability, but there isn't anyone who wows you in this class," Kiper also writes. "Still, the grade definitely jumps."

He also notes that the Patriots had the second most snaps played by a rookie class in the NFL, according to ESPN Stats & Info, while the team used 13 rookies in total.

Each of the seven drafted players made the active roster for the Patriots, with Logan Ryan, Aaron Dobson, Jamie Collins and Duron Harmon as the primary contributors.

Defensive tackle Chris Jones, a sixth-round pick of the Texans, and undrafted defensive tackle Joe Vellano also played extensively.

To see Kiper's full take on the draft re-grades (Insider content), click HERE.

Ups & downs for the Patriots

January, 19, 2014
Jan 19
DENVER -- A look at who's "up" and who's "down" for the New England Patriots in their 26-16 loss to the Denver Broncos in the AFC Championship Game:

Ryan Allen -- Rookie punter played through a shoulder injury and delivered a couple of booming punts in the first half.

Austin Collie -- Veteran receiver turned out to be one of quarterback Tom Brady's most reliable options.

Chandler Jones -- Defensive end caught the eye with strong play against the run and a good rush that contributed to a red zone stop.

Danny Amendola -- Receiver was hardly a factor and had a drop in the third quarter.

Tom Brady -- The missed deep pass to receiver Julian Edelman in the first quarter will probably stick with the quarterback for a while. He also missed one to Collie late in the second quarter.

Alfonzo Dennard/Logan Ryan -- Young cornerbacks struggle in coverage and tackling.

Football journey: Logan Ryan

January, 18, 2014
Jan 18
One of the things the New England Patriots liked about cornerback Logan Ryan as a prospect in the 2013 NFL Draft was his ball disruption, as he was viewed to be among an elite group that included first-round picks Dee Milliner and D.J. Hayden, and third-rounder Tyrann Mathieu in terms of getting his hands on the football.

This has turned out to be a case where college reality has turned into NFL reality.

[+] EnlargeLogan Ryan
Jim Rogash/Getty ImagesDefensive back Logan Ryan has made an impact in his rookie season with the Patriots.
Ryan, the team’s third-round draft choice out of Rutgers (83rd overall), led all NFL rookies with five interceptions this season. He’s played just more than 50 percent of the defensive snaps, making contributions that have exceeded most everyone’s expectations -- except the Patriots' and his own.

The 5-foot-11, 195-pound Ryan once again figures to be a big part of the defensive plan when the Patriots visit the Broncos on Sunday in the AFC Championship Game.

At 22 years old, he comes across as mature beyond his years as he shares his “football journey”:

When he first started playing football: “When I was 8 years old. My brother [Jordan] is three years older and he started playing. I would come to a couple practices and wanted to play, so my dad signed me up.”

First positions: “Tight end, but growing up, I played all over the field. My dad [Lester] was my coach most years growing up, in Little League, and he made sure every single year that I was playing a different position. He wanted to teach me football from being quarterback, to not having the ball in your hands, to being a receiver, corner, safety, linebacker ...”

More on his father: “He’s a coach at heart. He’s a martial arts instructor, so he’s a great teacher. He never coached football before, but he wanted to be my coach [as an assistant] growing up, so it helped out.”

Role models in his life: “Definitely my father and older brother. They are the first people in my extended family to graduate college, so they definitely set the standard for me. Growing up, I always wanted to be the best, but I was a poor sport at times. If it wouldn’t go my way, I would throw a fit. They always held me responsible, telling me I couldn’t be like that. I feel like they knew I had talent at a young age, and my brother and dad both protected me and made sure I developed it and didn’t waste the potential I had.”

Favorite players and teams growing up: “I grew up in the Philadelphia area, so I was a Philly sports fan in everything. I would say, in general, I liked watching quarterbacks and how they control the game. Also, Deion Sanders, elite competitors like that. A little bit of everybody.”

[+] EnlargeRyan
Bob Donnan/USA TODAY SportsLogan Ryan (26) has brought great ball skills to the New England secondary.
Top football memories of Eastern High School: “I was the quarterback and it was fun leading those guys, having the ball in my hands, and being the guy the people looked to when it came to making plays, or in that sense, calling a play. Growing up with my high school friends and carrying out that role [was meaningful]. We were extremely competitive; made the state semifinals two years in a row.”

Why Rutgers was the right choice for him: “It was a no-brainer. It was in-state. I felt like we were going to do something special, and we had a lot of guys in Jersey stay home.”

Top football memories at Rutgers: “We were able to get a share of the Big East title for the first time ever. I would say that last year, the defense we had and the amount of guys we have in the NFL now, we knew that we had something special going on. We felt like we came up a little short, but at the end of it, we did a lot of special things.”

How teammate Eric LeGrand made an impression on him: “He is one of the best people I know. That’s how I know everything happens for a reason and to people who can handle that situation. You see how many people he inspires now; more than if he played football. He’s handling it great.”

Thoughts entering the NFL in 2013: “I had no idea [how it would unfold], but the one thing I knew, I said ‘regardless of where I get drafted or what round or how much playing time I get, I’m going to be ready.’ I was training to play in the NFL, I wasn’t training to get drafted high. I was training to have a good rookie year and training to win a Super Bowl. That’s something I never lost sight of.”

Picked by the Patriots in the third round (83rd overall): “It was a blessing. It’s where I was supposed to be, a perfect situation for me and my family. I knew it was a great opportunity. It’s been a dream come true, doing what I love to do at the highest level, at almost the highest organization. It helps me become a better person off the field and on the field, playing in an organization like this.”

What he loves about football: “I think it’s the most physical and competitive sport in the sense that it’s man vs. man. Who wants it more? Who worked harder? Who is more prepared? I just think it’s America’s sport for a reason, and to be able to do it at the highest level is everything a competitor dreams of.”

Highest and lowest moments in football: “Inches. Details. The littlest things can be the difference in the best play I’ve made all year or the worst play. It’s not by much. That’s how I approach it. I approach this position like ‘If I was a step quicker, I would have made that play.’ Or if I have a great play, my teammates put me in position to make it. It’s a team sport and I try not to get too high or low with anything.”

What he prides himself on as a football player: “A passionate player who doesn’t take off any plays. There are no practices when I don’t want to get better, and someone who is consistent and you can trust on and off the field to represent myself and the Patriots in the right light, and who on the field can be trusted to make plays when need be.”

Summing up his football journey: “I’ve come a long way, but it’s everything I’ve always pictured. I think I still have a long way to go, and I hope to be in even greater places in years to come.”

Revisiting draft-day trade with Vikings

January, 4, 2014
Jan 4
When news came that Vikings rookie wide receiver Cordarrelle Patterson had been named to the Pro Bowl, it generated feedback on Twitter. The common refrain was that the Patriots, who had the 29th pick in the draft, would've been well served to select Patterson rather than trade the pick to Minnesota in a deal that netted them four selections.

And while Patterson has proven to be a dynamic playmaker for Minnesota, he still has work to do as a receiver, and some wonder if his game was suited to the complex offensive system we've seen some receivers struggle to pick up in New England.

The truth is that we don't know exactly how Patterson would fit in New England, but we can assess what the Patriots made of the four picks they acquired in the deal.

Below is a rundown:

Second round pick, No. 52 overall: Used on linebacker Jamie Collins, an eight-game starter and improved performer down the stretch. The Patriots viewed Collins as an upside pick in the second round, as his natural movement skills are obvious. He projects as a full-time starter as soon as 2014.

Third round pick, No. 83 overall: Used on cornerback Logan Ryan, who led all NFL rookies with five interceptions this season. Though not an every-week starter yet, Ryan has turned out to be one of the better values in the third round and a keeper in the secondary.

Fourth round pick, No. 102 overall: Used on wide receiver Josh Boyce, who finished with nine catches this season, while also providing value as a kickoff return man. Boyce was recently placed on injured reserve, though he will add value as a wideout next season, perhaps as a slot man.

Seventh round pick, No. 229 overall: This may have turned out to be the most important piece of the deal as it relates to 2013, as this pick was sent along with Jeff Demps to Tampa Bay in exchange for running back LeGarrette Blount, nearly the team's leading rusher (he rushed for one yard less than Stevan Ridley).

It's easy to make knee-jerk reactions to deals at the time they are made. It's also easy to look at the contributions of one player and wonder, "what if?" as has become the case with Patterson.

But given what the above players have meant to the Patriots for this season -- and could mean beyond this season -- this deal likely qualifies under the label of "one we'd make again."

Logan Ryan on Kiper Jr.'s rookie team

January, 3, 2014
Jan 3
On Friday, a pair of New England Patriots' defensive backs, safety Devin McCourty and cornerback Aqib Talib, were voted to the Associated Press second-team All Pro unit, joined by guard Logan Mankins.

McCourty and Talib were the cornerstones of the secondary, but the group was beefed up during this past draft with the selection of two Rutgers defensive backs in the third round, Duron Harmon and Logan Ryan.

Harmon has been a fill-in starter for both Steve Gregory and McCourty at safety, while Ryan has seen his playing time increase throughout the season. He's even been used as a top two cornerback in the base defense as Alfonzo Dennard and Kyle Arrington have worked through injuries.

That, along with five interceptions (most among NFL rookies), landed Ryan on Mel Kiper Jr.'s All-Rookie team, as was recently posted on

Ryan is the only Patriot on the team, and he's joined in the secondary by cornerbacks Desmond Trufant (Falcons) and Nickell Robey (Bills), plus safeties Kenny Vaccaro (Saints) and Tyrann Mathieu (Cardinals).

One area that has stood out in regards to Ryan this season is his ball skills. That was an area of strength for him in college, though a slower time in the 40 at the combine (4.56 seconds) pushed him down into the third round.

That was good news for the Patriots, who plucked him with a pick acquired in a draft-day trade with Minnesota.

Ryan's ascension has helped the secondary go from an area of limitation in 2012 to one of the more dependable groups for the Patriots this season.

To see the full team (Insider content), click here Insider.

Reiss' P.A.T. with Logan Ryan

January, 3, 2014
Jan 3

Mike Reiss delivers the latest news from Gillette Stadium, looks at possible playoff opponents, catches up with CB Logan Ryan and answers your Twitter questions.

Picked-up pieces from 3rd-quarter review

December, 23, 2013
Picked-up pieces from reviewing the third quarter of the New England Patriots’ 41-7 win over the Baltimore Ravens:

1. The biggest part of the quarter for the Patriots was coming up with two stops on fourth down, which are essentially turnovers. On the first (12:23 remaining), with cornerback Logan Ryan batting down a pass, quarterback Joe Flacco seemed to miss a better option underneath in Dennis Pitta. On the second (3:03 remaining), the Patriots won at the line of scrimmage with linebacker Brandon Spikes and defensive tackle Sealver Siliga driving blockers back after shifting/moving right before the snap, and Rob Ninkovich using a swim move on right tackle Michael Oher to crash down the line and wrap up Ray Rice short of the sticks for no gain. The Patriots were the more physical team during the game, and that play was one example.

2. The Patriots stalled a bit offensively in the quarter, as their execution faltered and they also seemed be willing to play a bit closer to the vest given their double-digit lead. Quarterback Tom Brady wasn’t taking many chances, knowing that one mistake could help the Ravens get back in the game. While Julian Edelman was a star performer on the day, he did have a drop early in the quarter on a short pass that was essentially a glorified running play. Not the Patriots' best quarter offensively.

3. Chandler Jones’ 11.5 sacks leads the Patriots and is the most-often cited statistic when referencing his solid season, but there is more to his game than just sacks. A good example came on the third-and-3 play with 12:30 remaining, when Jones initially took himself out of his rush to chip Pitta and make it harder for him to get into his route. He did so, before going from zero-to-high-gear in an instant to surge up the middle and pressure Flacco into an incomplete pass. Jones doesn’t get credit for a sack on the play, but in many ways his ability to carry out the dual responsibilities effectively is more impressive than just a single sack.

4. In the last game that rookie safety Duron Harmon played extended snaps, Dec. 1 in Houston, his tackling wasn’t up to his personal standard. That is brought up here because on the second play that Harmon was on the field, replacing injured Devin McCourty, he had a sound wrap-up tackle on Pitta to limit him to a 4-yard gain on second-and-7 (13:00 remaining). Those are small things, but to a player like Harmon who's had limited reps of late, it's extremely important. It also ultimately contributed to the Patriots getting the Ravens to turn the ball over on downs two plays later.

5. Rookie defensive tackle Chris Jones’ hustle stands out, and it caught the eye on a three-play sequence. After locating the ball and shedding to make a tackle of Rice on a 1-yard gain (7:09 remaining), he then drew a hands-to-the-face penalty (6:43 remaining), before chasing down a screen play downfield (6:19 remaining). It is sometimes said that a player has a motor that never stops, and we’d put Jones in that category, with those three straight plays a good example of it.

6. One pregame storyline was if the Patriots might put cornerback Aqib Talib on receiver Torrey Smith. The Patriots didn’t match him up that way, playing Talib mostly on the defensive left side and letting him cover whichever Ravens receiver lined up across from him (most often seemed to be Jacoby Jones).

7. One head-scratcher: When the Ravens faced a third-and-1 from the Patriots’ 4 (3:10 remaining), they went with an empty set and Flacco in the shotgun. This against a Patriots run defense that entered the day ranked 31st in the NFL. So while the Patriots’ defense deserves credit for coming up with the stop in the critical situations, the feeling here is that the Ravens also made it easier for them with some questionable decision-making.

Picked-up pieces from 1st-quarter review

December, 23, 2013
Picked-up pieces from reviewing the first quarter of the New England Patriots’ 41-7 win over the Baltimore Ravens:

1. Offensive lineman Logan Mankins talked after the game about the Patriots having success with zone runs, which displaced the Ravens' sturdy defensive front, as defenders were often over-pursuing. This was evident on LeGarrette Blount’s 11-yard run (1:50 remaining) as the Patriots created a strong side to the left with tight ends Michael Hoomanawanui and Matthew Mulligan and ran in that direction, with Blount hitting the cut perfectly as the left side sealed things off and right guard Dan Connolly got enough of nose tackle Terrence Cody to create enough of a crease. That was the type of run play in which the Patriots had great success throughout the day, and the key seemed to be getting the big Ravens defenders moving east-west at the snap.

[+] EnlargeLeGarrette Blount
Patrick Smith/Getty ImagesLeGarrette Blount's runs in the first quarter, including one for a TD, owed much to the Patriots' offensive line.
2. The overall offensive line play was solid, although right tackle Marcus Cannon seemed to be the primary breakdown with two negative runs – defensive tackle Arthur Jones crossed his face to bring down Stevan Ridley for a loss of 2 yards (7:03 remaining) while Cannon missed a block on Terrell Suggs when Blount was brought down for a loss of 3 yards (1:18 remaining).

3. The first offensive play foreshadowed what was to come the rest of the day in terms of the Patriots’ approach. Out of their 2 WR/2 TE/1 RB package, the Patriots aligned tight ends to both sides (in more of a pass set) and brought receivers Aaron Dobson and Julian Edelman in tight to the formation to constrict the defense. The Ravens countered with an eight-man box and Connolly pulled to deliver one of several solid blocks on Blount’s 5-yard run over the left side. An opening play can sometimes be described as an “attitude” play, and that’s how we’d view this one.

4. Marquice Cole, playing the role of gunner on the punt team, drew the penalty on Jimmy Smith that led to the Ravens starting their initial drive at their own 7.

5. When the Patriots’ running game is discussed, much credit goes to the offensive line, tight ends and backs. But receivers shouldn’t be overlooked. Patriots receivers are willing blockers, and they were involved in run-blocking Sunday, as evidenced on Blount’s 14-yard run (12:18 remaining). Dobson half-motioned into the line of scrimmage and blocked down on Suggs before getting up on linebacker Jameel McClain. Good effort, and you also see Edelman doing his part, knocking safety Matt Elam on his backside in front of the play.

6. More physical play – fullback James Develin plowing through the hole and pancaking linebacker Josh Bynes on Blount’s 1-yard touchdown run.

7. Develin was also a factor on the Patriots’ second red-zone touchdown, his vertical route helping create traffic so McClain had to go around him to cover running back Shane Vereen. Great design and execution, which came after CBS analyst Phil Simms said, “Of course they didn’t give us any details last night, but I think the Patriots have a lot of stuff up their sleeve [in the red zone], ways to get guys singled up so they can make plays a little easier. No Gronkowski for the jump ball. No big, tall receiver on the outside to throw the fade to in the corners. Gotta find a different way.” Simms’ timing, like the Patriots’ execution, was perfect.

8. For such a flag-happy game, one detail stood out on the play in which Patriots cornerback Logan Ryan intercepted Joe Flacco: Ravens left tackle Eugene Monroe isn’t on the line of scrimmage, as it’s noticeable that the left side of the Ravens’ line is fanned out in a way that gives them an unfair advantage in pass protection. That should have been an illegal-formation penalty from our view.

9. Defensive tackle Vince Wilfork once again accompanied the team on the trip and was seen jotting down notes after Ryan’s interception. Looks like the Patriots have an addition to their staff: Coach Wilfork.

10. Cornerback Kyle Arrington can be a lightning rod of sorts among Patriots followers because of his occasional struggles on the outside, but one aspect that coaches have to appreciate about him is his toughness when playing in the slot. On Bernard Pierce’s 5-yard run (3:41 remaining), Arrington set the edge against tight tackle Michael Oher, forcing Pierce to cut the run back. Tale of the tape – Arrington (5-foot-10, 190 pounds) vs. Oher (6-4, 315). Those are little effort things that showed up throughout review of the game -- the Patriots getting more of those type of plays. The run wasn’t defended particularly well on the backside, but Arrington more than did his part.

11. One change for the Patriots in their rush front was keeping Chandler Jones outside, with Andre Carter instead rushing from an interior position. Probably just a case of the Patriots attempting to dictate specific blocking matchups, but it was a switch from the norm.

12. Edelman’s first quarter: 34-yard pass-interference penalty drawn, 5-yard illegal-contact penalty drawn, one incomplete pass, a 17-yard reception and an 11-yard punt return. It’s the type of production we regularly saw from Wes Welker in 2007-2012. No doubt, this is as well as Edelman has played in the NFL. He's their go-to guy right now in the passing game.

13. Vereen came out of the game after pulling up on a second-and-13 incomplete pass in his direction (44 seconds remaining) as he was running down the left sideline with McClain in coverage. Vereen left for the locker room but later came back to the sideline (although he never re-entered the game). As of late Sunday night, it wasn’t considered anything serious with Vereen; it was more of a precaution. There was a penalty on the play for an illegal shift on receiver Danny Amendola.

Rookie CB Logan Ryan sparks Patriots

December, 23, 2013
BALTIMORE -- The first sign Sunday against the Baltimore Ravens might be different for rookie cornerback Logan Ryan was when fellow cornerback Alfonzo Dennard went through a pre-game test in front of the team’s medical and athletic training staff. Dennard’s knee continues to be an issue to manage, and while he was ultimately deemed healthy enough to dress, the Patriots hoped to limit his time on the field.

So Ryan got the start. And boy, did he make the most of it.

The third-round draft choice from Rutgers had two interceptions and a pass break-up on fourth down (essentially another turnover) as the Patriots got back to their turnover-producing ways after a recent drought.

“Ever since the first game, I’ve always wanted to be prepared. Whatever my opportunity is, I want to make the most of it -- whether it’s starting the game or coming in sub, I want to make an impact in the game,” Ryan said as he donned an AFC East Championship hat.

Ryan’s first interception, in the first quarter, came on a tipped pass by linebacker Dont'a Hightower. The second came on a play in which Baltimore Ravens tight end Dennis Pitta couldn’t corral a Joe Flacco pass in the third quarter.

Ryan credited the coaches’ call in putting him in position to make the play, as well as Hightower’s athleticism. He also said one of the primary points of emphasis was “don’t let those guys get going with their deep shots.”

Ryan now has five interceptions on the season, which leads all NFL rookies. Asked how he’d like to be viewed as a player, he said, “Hard worker. Not [just] on Sundays, but during the week. I want to be consistent. It’s great to have interceptions, but you have to be consistent 50 other plays in the game. I just want to be known as someone who works hard each and every day and is consistent out there.”

As for the Patriots’ resounding victory, Ryan said: “I don’t know if it was a statement or not. We know we have a big one next week. We continue to control our own destiny. We’re going to enjoy this one and then focus on the Buffalo Bills.”

Quick-hit thoughts after third quarter

December, 22, 2013
With just 15 minutes left to play, the New England Patriots lead the Baltimore Ravens 20-0. Passing along quick-hit notes and observations from the third quarter:

1. Patriots force turnover on downs. The Ravens got the ball to open the second half, and their offense managed its best drive of the game, crossing midfield for the first time. But it didn't go much further, as the Ravens attempted to convert on fourth down, but Logan Ryan, who intercepted a pass earlier in the game, broke up a Joe Flacco throw.

2. Ryan records second pick. Ryan has been everywhere, recording two interceptions and breaking up the aforementioned pass. The third-rounder's second pick of the day set up the Patriots for a field goal from Stephen Gostkowski, extending the lead to 20-0. He leads all NFL rookies with five interceptions this season.

3. Patriots stuff Ravens again. The Ravens marched deep into Patriots territory, but a stingy defensive effort forced the second turnover on downs of the day. Defensive end Rob Ninkovich came up with the clutch stop to bring down Ray Rice short of the first-down marker.

4. Edelman closing in on 100/1,000. Among the unlikely scenarios relating to this season, perhaps few foresaw a 100-catch, 1,000-yard season for wide receiver Julian Edelman. But he's closing in on exactly that, as he's up to 95 catches and 974 yards this season. He's among the best bargains in the NFL this season with a contract that pays him just over $1 million.

5. Penalty box. The following Patriots were flagged for penalties during the third quarter: cornerback Aqib Talib (pass interference; declined).

Sharing Patriots halftime thoughts

December, 22, 2013
BALTIMORE -- Sharing some halftime thoughts of the New England Patriots' game against the Ravens (New England leads 17-0):

One of Patriots' best halves of the season: This has been, across the board, some of the best football the Patriots have played this season. All three phases are getting it done. On offense, a commitment to the ground game has stood out. On defense, the turnovers are back. And the special teams coverage has been outstanding, sparked by captain Matthew Slater. For the Ravens, quarterback Joe Flacco doesn't look completely comfortable.

Replay review critical for Patriots: Danny Amendola's late second-quarter fumble was overturned on replay, which was crucial for the Patriots because it could have been a momentum-swinging turn of events -- the Ravens getting the ball on a short field and then at the start of the third quarter. Turnovers are such a big part of the action, as we saw in the first quarter for the Patriots (Logan Ryan interception sets up the second touchdown).

Red-zone struggles corrected: One of the big storylines entering the game was the Patriots' red-zone performance (1 of 4 vs. Miami). They are 2 of 2 today, with a power running game (LeGarrette Blount) and then a well-designed pass play (Shane Vereen) the successful formula.

A lot of penalties: Ron Winter's crew has been busy tonight. It's always difficult to tell while watching live if all the calls are warranted, but our general preference are games with fewer flags. It seemed like a long half because of it, with little flow. This reminds us of the 2009 Patriots-Ravens regular-season game, in Foxborough, in which Winter was also the referee.

Injuries to monitor: Vereen left in the second quarter with a groin injury and has not returned. Brandon Bolden has assumed his role as the top "passing back." ... Safety Steve Gregory left in the second quarter with what looked like a right knee/leg injury. It looked signficant, and rookie Duron Harmon took his place. ... Linebacker Dont'a Hightower left the game briefly in the second quarter, but returned.

Ravens get the ball: The Patriots had called heads at the opening toss and it came up tails, with the Ravens deferring the choice to the second half. So the Ravens get the ball to open the second half.