Is Logan the Answer at NT?

Posted: February 8th, 2014 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 54 Comments »

Let’s talk about Bennie Logan. He began the 2013 season as a backup DL and finished as the starting NT. The reviews of him are mixed. Some felt he was a liability against the run. Others saw an inconsistent rookie. Will the Eagles keep him as the starting NT in 2014?

I wrote about the subject for PE.com.

That got me to thinking about Logan and I pulled up what I wrote on him from last April.

I still don’t see a great fit for Logan in our defense, but his versatility may be one of the things that the scouts and coaches like the most. Logan could play NT and DE in the 3-4, NT and 3-tech in the 4-3.  His best fit might be NT in the Nickel and Dime. He can push the pocket and occupy 2 blockers, to free up Fletcher Cox and let the DEs come off the edge. Logan showed some ability to push the pocket at LSU. There were some sets where he’d be the NT in a 3-man line and try to collapse the line.

Chip Kelly did say the Eagles had a 2nd round grade on Logan. I like the guy, but the Eagles must really like him. Kelly said the team thinks based on his frame that he can carry another 10 to 15 pounds pretty easily. Logan does have 34-inch arms and 10-inch hands so that will help him play DE if they want to try that at times.

I don’t think enough attention is paid to this point when discussing Logan. This isn’t a guy the Eagles are likely to push aside casually. They must think he can be a good DL, not just an effective starter.

As I stated in the PE.com piece. my bet is that Logan will be the NT in 2014.

I think Logan will get better as he bulks up and gets more experience. My guess is that some of the desire for a new NT comes from the poor run defense in the Saints game. I re-watched Logan from that game and didn’t think he was a huge problem. In fact, I thought he played pretty well for parts of the game. The Saints went off-tackle for most of their key runs. The Eagles run defense was pretty darn good for the last couple of months of the season. Two games where the team was lit up were OAK and WAS. Both teams benefited from running QBs. RG3 went for 44 yards and Terrelle Pryor went for 94.

I also think people are thinking of the old school NTs when judging Logan. The huge guys are gone. Most NTs are reasonably sized these days. If Logan bulks up to 320, that should give him enough bulk to anchor against the run.

Sheil Kapadia and Tim McManus recently debated the subject. McManus is smart, since he agrees with me. Kapadia is a hack, since he disagrees. The subject of Logan and NT came up on the trip down to Mobile and the feeling with a few people was that the Eagles would try to upgrade. I’ll say that is possible, but not likely.

I certainly do think the Eagles need to bring in better depth and competition. Damion Square is a try-hard guy that the coaches love, but the Eagles would be in huge trouble if he had to play significant snaps.

* * * * *

Speaking of Mobile, I promised to share a few stories and never got around to it. Sadly, this year was less eventful. Jimmy Bama didn’t almost make Joe Namath cry. I didn’t get to hang out with Howie Roseman. We didn’t get to see Nick Saban eating Little Debbie snack cakes. We didn’t get to have a crazy car ride with Tony Pauline. And I didn’t insult former NFL QB Turk Schonert.

Jimmy and I arrived on Sunday, on the same flight as Sheil. Never has so much talent and brilliance been assembled on one aircraft. Jimmy and I went out for beers and to watch the AFC/NFC title games. We hung out in a couple of local places and had a good time. It is possible that we drank a lot of beer. Jimmy drank a beer milkshake, which led to endless taunts from me about Shirley Temples.

Monday morning was the weigh-in. For 2 hours, players go one by one to be measured and weighed. They wear only their underwear and the hundreds of coaches, scouts and writers take notes on body shapes and styles. I find it to be very useful. Others are kinda creeped out. Sheil went for the first time. I’m not sure if he’s got a desire to go back. But he can say that he’s at least been to one.

The Monday practice is over at a local field in Fairhope, which is across the bay. Jimmy and I always go to Danny’s Fried Chicken to eat lunch before the Monday practice. Fried chicken + bundt cake. That’s pretty close to heaven. Nothing too wild happened at the Monday practice. My favorite moment came when I walked by Rex Ryan and Rob was asking him if they could give Ravens LB coach Don Martindale a ride to the North practice. Rex said something to the effect of “Shit yeah, we’ll give that jerk a ride.” The 3 of them might be defensive gurus, but put together they were the Three Stooges. I would have loved to be in that car. Unfortunately I had to settle for riding with Jimmy. Again, nothing too wild at that practice.

Monday night was the media dinner. They gather the players and media over by the USS Alabama and do a ton of interviews. This is where someone (LB Telvin Smith I think) came over to tell Jimmy that he kinda looked like Kurt Warner. I responded that Jimmy looked more like Warner’s wife Brenda.

Jimmy bama Brenda Bama

 

Striking resemblance, huh?

Later on Jimmy had so get the courage to go ask DE Trent Murphy if he could take a picture of his hands. The idea was funny, but Jimmy didn’t want to creep Murphy out. I talked him into doing it and it was funny.

After the dinner we went back to our rooms to do a bit of writing. Then we got together for drinks at a place called Veets. This is a dive bar right across the street from the hotel where the players and coaches stay. You walk in and go by Rob Ryan. Then you pass Mark Gorscak, the Steelers scout who oversees the 40-yard dash at the Combine every year. Over at the bar is Cardinals coach Bruce Arians. The NFL hangs out in one dive bar.

The media is also there. Jimmy and I hung out with a variety of guys. We got Sheil to have a couple of beers. Jeff McLane stopped by. There were beat writers from the Jets and Giants. Everyone was fun. We talked about the Eagles, the Super Bowl, the Senior Bowl and everything under the sun. A lot of beer was consumed.

The Tuesday practices were at 930am and 130pm. Nothing too eventful happened. For lunch we drove to the other side of Mobile to get some good barbecue. We went to The Brick Pit. We walked in and there were already other NFL guys there, despite the fact it was a 20-minute drive from the stadium. This is an out-of-the-way place, but the food is that good. Jimmy goes up and orders. He asks for a barbecue plate, but tells them to hold the sides. He just wants the bread and the meat. The guy says…”You want me to just give you a sandwich?” For some reason, that cracked me up. On the way back, we drove through a neighborhood. Jimmy didn’t notice the first speed bump and that’s when the Chevy Cruze got some air. I warned him about the next couple or we might have duplicated the feat.

After finishing some writing on Tuesday night, we headed out to Veets for more beer and good talk. It was supposed to be a more subdued night, but the gang all came out again and we ended up almost staying til closing time.

Wednesday was our final day in town. Practice got a bit interesting when a player’s parents sat down beside Jimmy and I. They were chatty. I dreaded talking to them too much because I feared the question of “When do you think he’s going to be picked?” Writing that online is one thing. Saying that to a kid’s parents is very different. The mother did tell Jimmy that the guy had diarrhea earlier in the week. That’s was odd info that got me and Bama to snickering like school girls.

For Wednesday’s lunch, Jimmy and I went to another barbecue place. This time we were joined by Les Bowen and Jordan Raannan. It struck me as funny how far things have come in a few years. Jimmy and I spoke on the phone for the first time in 2010 or 2011. I don’t remember exactly. Now we’re good friends and we are socializing with established sportswriters. Things have come a long way for me since I was having goofy arguments in the TATE section of the Eagles Message Board as recently as 2009. What a difference 5 years makes, huh?

I can’t wait for next January.


  • Media Mike

    I’ll need to see that extra weight on Logan before I believe it. I’d really prefer a hulking beast of a NT who can jam the run on first and second down while smashing the pocket into the QB’s face on 3rd. Nix from ND and Jones from PSU fit that bill.

    I really don’t want to knock Logan, but I like him more in rotation.

    • Cafone

      His combine weight was 309. Getting to 320 should be nothing for a guy that big. He could probably get even bigger if they wanted him to.

      • Media Mike

        I hope he does. I just need to see it first. Kruger is another guy in that mix. I hope he shows up at 290+ with a year of work with our strength and conditioning guys. Logan at 325+ with the same speed and more strength is a must.

  • Media Mike

    And current guys who fit that NT mold that I’d like to see on the Eagles by size:
    -Dontari Poe 6-3 345
    – Marcell Dareus 6-3 331
    – Haloti Ngata 6-4 340

    Obviously these guys don’t grow on trees, but they’re out there and we need to draft the next one.

    • Sean

      All three of those guys were Top 15 picks. That’s a significant investment in a position of relatively lesser importance.

      • Media Mike

        Depends on what you deem to be lesser importance. I’d argue that in the case of Poe and Ngata a significant level of what other players in that D are able to do are keyed to their efforts. One of the things that killed Manning in the Super Bowl this year was a constantly collapsing pocket that eliminated his ability to step up to buy time to throw. If you’re making the argument that we’d be better off with a home run hitter at ROLB, I agree; but those dudes can be difficult to scare up as well.

      • GENETiC-FREAK

        They have the size but they also need to be agile as well as Davis likes to DL stunt

        • Media Mike

          Great point. You need a dancing bear rather than a backwoods hogzilla.

    • Mitchell

      I remember when the Chiefs caught a bunch of flak for selecting Poe as early as they did. Turned out pretty well for them.

      • Anders

        I argue that Cox is still the better player of the two.

        Poe had a good start to the season, but he was no where later in the year (maybe he whore down?)

        • Dirk Diggler

          Did he whore down as in “Poe got tired of the ugly girl coming on to him so he threw the whore down”…..or maybe you just meant wear down. I like whore down better though.

          • GENETiC-FREAK

            hahaha ya whore

          • Anders

            Haha yes, igglesblitz by night :)

  • ACViking

    Tommy:

    Wonderful stuff — especially Veets. And the beer of choice there is?

    By the way, what you do here makes the point that journalism in the internet era doesn’t require gray hair, a rumpled shirt, or a byline in a newspaper.

    I don’t think you’re far at all from calling yourself an “established sportswriter” — one who specializes on the Eagles and the NFL. In fact, you may be the most established Eagles’ sportswriter at this point. (All due respect to Jimmy ‘Bama.)

    I suppose it raises that question, “What do you mean by sportswriter.”

    Anyway, I get that you’re not at Novacare looking for a story. But you certainly offer tremendous reporting on your site.

    • Media Mike

      And the top blog guys (Tommy included) are all cross-referenced by the best guys working for the local news organizations as well.

      I think we’re very lucky with a lot of quality coverage of the Eagles both on-line and print (and even the CSN dudes.)

      The only guy who covers the team at all for whom I have little respect is Jeff McLane due to his rote repeating of all of the Cleveland spawned lies by Banner in the last days of Reid and into the Kelly hiring.

    • P_P_K

      “Things have come a long way for me since I was having goofy arguments in the TATE section of the Eagles Message Board…”
      Tommy, A bunch of us have been following you all these years. We’re lucky to have you and hopeing you don’t forget about us when you hit the big time.

  • GENETiC-FREAK

    Chipwagon did a good breakdown on Logan in that Saints game

    http://chipwagon.typepad.com/eagles/2014/01/the-nose-in-the-coffin.html

    • Media Mike

      Great read! Thanks for posting it.

    • shah8

      Eeeh, again, Chipwagon is really mostly unfair more than anything else. What you should really be looking at is how decisively the Saints avoid allowing Cox to be a factor in those sneaks.

      And complaints about the A gap is hindsight silliness. If the A gap wasn’t there, then Brees would have checked to a different play, such as a sweep or a simple off-tackle, and Billy Davis would have to hope that Kendricks could chase down a failed stop or one of the defensive backs can make a sure tackle. And not Nate Allen, since he would have gotten nailed by (probably) the TE.

      Beginning to think Chipwagon folks are idiots.

      • Anders

        Says the guy who keep saying how Foles is not a real QB……..

        • Sean

          Has anyone from Chipwagon been able to identify the magnificent talents of one Joe Webb? I didn’t think so.

        • shah8

          Then again, this isn’t exactly the forum for Foles. You *could* talk about the topic at hand, you know…

          • planetx1971

            Anders is probably just attempting to goad you into one of your infamous Foles bashing fests. Your ripping on him always brings us many hearty laughs. Then again, he most likely brought it up (sorry for all the assumptions Anders) to point out that anyone who could be so blatantly, consistently & stubbornly wrong on a topic, that sadly, it renders all his other points moot.

          • shah8

            It’s not the Nick Foles Eagles, and Philadephia Eagles fandom are not totally consisted of Nick Foles fanatics who can’t bear to hear any criticism whatsoever.

          • Media Mike

            Sure, Nick Foles doesn’t represent the entire franchise. We just don’t need to transition to unwatchable running QB garbage any time soon. Much like Larry Brown wants basketball players who play the game the right way, Nick Foles plays the game the right way. If/when we go to the next QB after Foles, that move needs to keep us with a thrower, not a runner.

            I 100% agree with you that Foles can have flaws pointed out, but not being a runner (and I’m not saying you’re a fan of the bad running type of QB) isn’t one of them. People tend to discuss that far too often with Foles.

          • shah8

            That elides the point that Foles has to be a much better passer than he is, right now, to succeed long term. It’s not like this isn’t an obvious point. I watched that highlights thing yesterday, and it wasn’t all that much better than Ponder’s 2012 highlight reel. Much less stuffed with routine plays, but the good stuff was still pretty pedestrian. What it really reminded me was that his Tampa game was really quite decent, most of the best throws in the clip were in that game and Arizona.

            It’s also not like other people haven’t noticed what Foles game entails. OCs tend to slant the field away from Fletcher Cox and towards Patrick Chung. DC tends to want to deal with McCoy first, and Foles is usually an afterthought, in a way that good QBs generally aren’t. DC blitzed Michael Vick, taking Frasier’s lead, not because Vick is bad against the blitz–he’s not (if you trust the stats), but because Vick with time can pick apart any defense downfield. DCs don’t approach Foles with any of that sort of caution. Not the respect Wilson or Kaepernick gets, in terms of rush discipline, or exotic coverages, or anything like that. In the big game, Rob Ryan, if you trust Chipwagon’s narrative, simply decided to force Foles to thread passes into coverage, and rushed three in obvious passing downs. He still got sacks anyways. You can’t get through an NFL life as a QB simply by waiting for the defense to break down, or make a mistake, or passing on some hapless sub, or by making your WR in to center fielders. That doesn’t work against good defenses, even against defenses without outstanding talent, like New Orleans. And against a defense that was going without ANY respectable players in the defensive backfield, like Minn, Foles failed to put up points when he needed them, in a shootout. That’s why we’re getting soft pedalling media initiatives like: http://www.nj.com/eagles/index.ssf/2014/02/eagles_gm_howie_roseman_says_team_is_open_to_drafting_quarterback_in_first_round.html

  • Media Mike

    edit

  • Baloophi

    Logan’s not the only one bulking up this off-season.

    Word from NovaCare is that Trash Can has really been packing it on…

    • ICDogg

      Needs to cut back on fiber.

    • Media Mike

      That had better be full of the equipment of Chung and Henery.

    • Insomniac

      All of the remaining smoothie juices soaked into Trash Can.

    • A_T_G

      I would normally worry that the added bulk would slow him down, but the word is he has good wheels.

  • Philip Soloninka

    Man…. I wanna go…..

  • shah8

    Would prefer Logan moved to Thornton’s spot and a big guy capable of being disruptive in the middle. You don’t see Logan or Thornton doing anything *wrong*, per se, but the entire field is slanted towards Cox, in the sense that teams generally makes sure Cox can’t defeat a play. Moreover, indifferent defensive line play has consistently made the LB’s job harder than it had to be in 2013, in my view. Might not be fair, but compare what we’re getting out of NT in 2013 compared to what the Bills are getting out of Marcell Dareus, even in his rookie year, and accounting for the difference in time played. Of course, it’s more 3-4 Man Under in his system, but Dareus and other interior difference-makers are far more disruptive than what we are getting out of Logan. I think Logan makes a better run stopping 3-4 DE than nose.

    • ICDogg

      I think we’ll have a better idea when we see if Logan has bulked up this offseason. I think having played the position this past season he probably has a good idea what he needs to do to be as good as he can be. I’m leaning towards keeping Logan at the nose, though I wouldn’t object to replacing him if there is a truly superior option available.

      • Maggie

        So long as the “bulk” is from protein and the weight room, not from cheesesteaks or fries. ;~)

  • Vick or Nick

    When the Eagles drafted Logan in the 3rd round, I was surprised.

    I was looking at the players available and thought the following:

    Safety: Mathieu (LSU) or McDonald (USC)

    WR: Terrence Williams (Baylor), Keenan Allen (Cal), Goodwin (Texas), Wheaton (Oregon State).

    DT: John Jenkins 6’4 345 (Georgia)

    I also liked DE Montegomery from LSU.

    However, watching the Eagles Defense this year I was impressed with Bennie Logan. The defense really started playing well when Sopoaga was traded and even before then when Logan was getting more reps. Size of NT alone doesn’t equate to good performance. It does nothing for you if you are 340 but cant move.

    Logan plays with very good technique, my main concern was his potential, did he have the athletic ability (size, quickness) to be a really special player. At this point I don’t know. But I do know that Logan fits in the locker room, is/will be a team leader, and will work hard to get the most out of his abilities. And in most cases that trumps talent.

    As Tommy mentioned, getting a full off-season training in a NFL program, I expect Logan to be one of, if not the most, improved player on the team.

    It’ll be between Logan and Lane Johnson.

    • Mitchell

      HUGE man-crush on McDonald last year and still upset we didn’t get him. He blocked so many FG’s in college too. I think he would have made a good safety for us. Ah well

      • Media Mike

        I liked McDonald until the Senior Bowl. He got smoked in coverage by a TE who runs a 6.7 40 and helped that inept brain dead scramble bum EJ Manuel win the MVP of the game. I wasn’t impressed with McDonald matched up against other NFL talent.

        • Mitchell

          I think he played pretty well in his first year. Would have been a good player for us.

          • Media Mike

            We’ll see how he progresses and I think we could have coached him up in our secondary well enough, but the senior bowl performance really scared me.

  • livingonapear

    I think a lot of the knocks on Logan are of the “Grass is always greener on the other side” variety. NT is not a need in this draft, even if Logan is upgradable. Saints game aside, the run defense was a definite strength for the Eagles because they played their responsibilities. It didn’t look like a disruptive dominant line because it wasn’t supposed to be a disruptive dominant line.

    People were so gaga for Terrance Knighton, and for good reason as he played really well this year, but he wasn’t exactly a dominant force in Jacksonville. There’s a reason Denver was able to get him on the cheap. You have to be able to let these guys grow a little, especially when they are adding bulk to their frame, before you call for an upgrade.

  • Baloophi

    RE: Veets

    Did Bruce Arians appeal any of the bartender’s calls?

  • 47_Ronin

    The Brick Pit story made me chuckle as well. First thing that came to my mind was the toasted dry white bread and 4 fried chickens scene from the Blues Brothers –
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v=3XOPZFhB3gE#t=82

    • Maggie

      The Blues Brothers could become one of my favorite movies of all time.

    • P_P_K

      Aretha is still The Queen.

  • Mitchell

    D3FB: What’s your take on James Hurst in the fourth or fifth round? Imagine him going to Alabama and working with Stoutland. You think he would be better? He seemed to handle Clowney pretty well when they played each other. Even if Clowney was dogging it this year, he is an extreme talent so I think that says something about his ability. If the team isn’t happy with OL depth I would think they may go with this guy later.

    • D3FB

      I had a second round grade on Hurst before his injury. It was only a broken leg, so he should be able to be back in time for his pro day, but may still see a small drop in his stock. I would be surprised if he’s around on day 3.

  • xeynon

    Logan may or may not be the long-term answer at NT – we don’t know. But one thing I do know is that it’s stupid to be basing an entire offseason strategy off of one game. This defense did a pretty good job stopping the run all season. Against the Saints, Davis decided the key was not to let Jimmy Graham beat them, and he played a man short up front as a result. It worked in stopping Graham, but opened up the running game for the Saints. Unless you have an All-Pro caliber NT, that’s going to happen, and guys like that tend to be top 15 picks. Acquiring one in this draft would likely require not only luck but also a significant expenditure of resources to move up from the #22 spot. For a team that’s still got a lot of holes using multiple picks to address a position that’s not a glaring weakness seems like a poor strategy to me. I’d rather see them draft a safety, pass-rushing OLB, or CB than a DT. If you have a top player at one of those positions, maybe you don’t need to double and triple Graham and gut your run defense to stop him.

    • Media Mike

      There are several spots on D where the play was less than stellar last year and some of them have to be improved. Harping on a choke loss at home to a team who has never (until we choked) won a road playoff game absolutely needs to be a point of focus as part of our cosmically destined march towards a multiple Super Bowl winning dynasty.

      ROLB, CB, DT, ILB, and safety are not areas where collectively we’re going to obtain pro bowl level football players, but the play of any player at that position needs to be measured against that standard.

      To make things simple, the D isn’t good enough yet. One of those positions is NT, but it doesn’t make Logan a bad player.

      • xeynon

        ROLB, CB, DT, ILB, and safety are not areas where collectively we’re going to obtain pro bowl level football players, but the play of any player at that position needs to be measured against that standard.

        It’s all well and good to say that, but in considering potential offseason moves you have to consider not only whether an upgrade is possible, but what the benefits of upgrading at a particular position are, and what the costs (including opportunity costs) of that upgrade will be. NT to me is a position that A.)is relatively low impact since the starter is only on the field about 50% of the time, 2.)is already being played adequately by the guy we have, and hence doesn’t afford as much room for improvement as a position like S where we were relying on subpar players last year, and 3.)will be really expensive to upgrade. I’d love to have a Haloti Ngata-type NT too. But if getting that guy means sacrificing the opportunity to upgrade at S, OLB, and CB, no thanks.

    • anon

      umm did anyone see those 3 goal line tds in the vikings game? were we in nickel then? what about those qb sneaks that cost us the saints game? I think the NT would GREATLY help our pass rushing from the inside, maybe it’ll mean we need fewer exotic blitzes to get to the QB. The real problem is that I think with him maybe Big Benny can be that guy once he gets more weight so hard to bring in a band aid on a 1 yr deal.

      • xeynon

        QB sneaks on inches-to-go situations and goal-to-go runs from inside the 5 in which the offense has multiple chances are tough plays to stop no matter who your defensive personnel is.

        Being unable to get a pass rush or lock down opposing receivers without committing extra guys to coverage cost us much more heavily, not only in the playoff game and against the Vikings but also against the Broncos, Chiefs, Chargers, Giants, and nearly against the Cowboys. In today’s NFL stopping the pass is more critical than stopping the run, and a NT is not a central piece of stopping the pass.

  • Pingback: Iggles Blitz » Blog Archive » More on the DL