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?
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.
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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.
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.