Darrelle Revis and many of the rest of the New England defensive backs trained together last offseason. Now, despite the fact that Revis is with the Jets, DBs like Logan Ryan (center) are still sticking with Revis’ offseason coach Will Sullivan. (Billie Weiss/Getty Images)
Despite the fact that Darrelle Revis isn’t with the Patriots anymore, some New England defensive backs still are going to spend at least part of the offseason working with the man who played a role in helping shape Revis into an All-Pro.
Will Sullivan, who is the offseason position coach for Revis (the corner calls Sullivan “the best positional coach I’ve ever had … period!”), spent a chunk of last offseason working with several of the Patriots defensive backs as well, and those players plan on sticking with Sullivan this offseason at his facility in Arizona.
According to Sullivan, Devin McCourty, Logan Ryan and Tavon Wilson either have plans to work out with Sullivan or already have been out to spend time with him at his facility.
“Some of them are already here working with me — I’ve been in contact with all of the guys who were here last year,” Sullivan said. “Logan has been out here — he’s been working with me for the last couple of weeks, reviewing film and what he did wrong last year. I think by now, we’re five games in. We’ve already done plenty of self-scouting and talked about how this year is going to be a big year for him.
“Tavon is supposed to come out next week. He’ll be out here with me until he has to head back. And I think Devin is set to come out here sometime in the summer — he usually likes to come and work out when his brother Jason can come out, too.”
Ryan has been the one who has received the bulk of the attention to this point in the offseason, according to Sullivan. He’s well aware that with the loss of Revis as a free agent, more will likely be on his shoulders in 2015.
“On Logan, I’ll say it like this: I think Logan, in his first year, he surprised people with his production. The times when he was asked to fill in the last two seasons, he’s done a good job,” Sullivan said of Ryan. “My thing is that now he’s a solid guy who you can stick in there. Now it’s about him taking that next step, if he’s given that opportunity. In 16 games and the playoffs, can he compete consistently against No. 1 and No. 2 receivers.
“Has he progressed? Definitely. I think Logan has been competitive since Day 1. It just boils down to whether or not he’ll be able to step up and take advantage of his opportunities,” Sullivan added. “Look, we saw it in the Super Bowl — defensive backs in New England don’t have a long leash. Everybody around the league knows that. They don’t hesitate to sit guys down. It’s just part of the culture there in New England. You have to be a tough-minded son of a gun to succeed there, to know that one game I might get 10 snaps, and then the next game I might be starting. They move guys around a lot.”
Of course, Sullivan said he’s going to continue his work with Revis. However, he professes to have no insight into Revis’ line of thinking that led him to leave Foxboro and return to the Jets as a free agent earlier this month. According to Sullivan, when it comes to talking about a new contract, the Revis circle of trust comes down to the cornerback, his agents and his uncle, Sean Gilbert. That way, he leaks are minimized.
“During the negotiation times, Revis disappears,” Sullivan said. “He doesn’t answer texts, email, phone calls. He does that every time. He usually goes some place you can’t find him — he’s not in his normal spots. He does a good job disappearing when he has to. So when it came to what was happening, I didn’t know a thing, and I’m glad I didn’t. That’s what his agents are for. My job is just to get a report from his agents, and go from there.”
As for talk that Revis has lost a step, Sullivan acknowledges he might be biased, but he still begs to differ.
“I feel like he’s gotten better with age. I truly do,” Sullivan said. “It’s interesting — that matchup of top corners against No. 1 receivers is the only spot where they get younger and younger on one side of the ball and older on the other. The receivers get younger, and the great DBs get older and older. That makes honing your craft all the more important, and that’s what he does very well. He’s gotten better with age.
“You look at the fact that outside the ACL injury the guy had a nine-year career where he didn’t miss many games. He comes in and he’s always in good condition. He’s not out there doing anything crazy. He takes care of his body the right way,” Sullivan added. “He still has a great feel for the game, and he knows what he’s doing. At this age, it’s more about picking your spots, understanding what’s going on on both sides of the ball and knowing where to get help and how to use it, if you need it.”