If you read my articles, you know by now that my biggest concern for the Philadelphia Eagles defense this season is whether or not they can apply greater pressure against opposing quarterbacks. I wrote last week that the Eagles D ranked 17th in the league in points allowed and 29th in total yards allowed in 2013, with much of those yards given up through the air by the 32nd ranked Philadelphia secondary. I believe the 37 sacks generated by the defensive line was the Achilles heel of Philadelphia’s season, and if second year defensive coordinator Bill Davis can’t fix that lack of pressure, the Eagles defense could struggle.
With the need for defensive improvement in mind, I pose the question; can Philadelphia Eagles nose tackle Bennie Logan anchor the defensive line in his second year? Logan was chosen in the third round of the 2013 NFL draft by the Eagles. The first eight games of the former LSU Tiger’s career were about learning and growing into the defense.
I freely admit that when Philadelphia traded eleven year veteran defensive tackle Isaac Sopoaga to the New England Patriots last season I thought the club was taking a substantial risk. You may recall in 2012 Sopoaga received a $2.75 million signing bonus along with his new three year contract. The gamble, however, paid off for the Eagles who obtained a 2014 fifth round pick in the deal, and ESPN’s Mike Reiss reported this past March that Sopoaga was released by the Patriots.
What’s more, after the Sopoaga trade, newly minted Eagles starter Bennie Logan continued his improvement ending the season playing in all 16 games with 27 combined tackles, two sacks, and one fumble recovery. While Logan wasn’t superior in his rookie season, struggling to stop the run against the New Orleans Saints in the NFC Wild Card game for example, he did show flashes of brilliance.
Logan showed that he has great agility for a big man and can chase down a runner. He has outstanding snap anticipation and because of that has a quick get-off. The best part of Logan’s game coming into his rookie season was his ability to penetrate up the middle, and while he only registered the two sacks, his potential for more was clearly present. Improvement there is what the Eagles will need most from him in 2013.
Defensive line coach Jerry Azzinaro told Logan to add 10 pounds after last season, and Philadelphia Eagles writer Dave Spadaro reported from OTA’s on Wednesday that Logan added bulk and “is up to about 317 pounds and looks beastly.”
Logan told the Philadelphia Inquirer of the added weight,
“I’ll be playing more snaps this year, that was the main thing. I wanted to put on weight to be able to sustain a longer season and try to see how things go.”
The Eagles believe they have a solid starter in Logan, and that he can improve upon his good rookie season. Philadelphia GM Howie Roseman told CSNPhilly.com, “We think Bennie did a tremendous job as a rookie. He’s incredibly strong, he’s athletic, he’s got a very bright future.”
Time will tell if the added ten pounds and a year’s worth of experience will help Logan improve upon his rookie season. Philadelphia needs him to stuff the run, apply QB pressure, and command a double team in order for the defensive line to take the next step.
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