All-22: Bennie Logan And ‘No-Run Day’

all22_logan_400Defensive line coach Jerry Azzinaro has a philosophy when it comes to getting his guys prepared: coach during the week, and let them play on Sundays.

For the Eagles, the practice week starts on Tuesday. But that session is primarily spent correcting mistakes from the previous game. Wednesday is when the team puts the pads on and looks ahead to the upcoming opponent.

On most weeks, for the defense, that means an emphasis on stopping the run. While much of the league is focused on figuring out ways to get to the quarterback, Billy Davis has employed a two-gap 3-4 scheme that focuses on controlling the ground game. So when defensive linemen arrive at NovaCare on Wednesdays, the game-planning usually starts with the same idea.

“It’s the beginning of the workload week for us,” said rookie Bennie Logan. “So that’s the main thing going into any game is stop the run, try to get teams as one-dimensional as possible. You figure we stop the run against most teams, that pretty much changes their whole offensive plan. And that’s our main thing Wednesday, we call it our no-run day. So we make sure we focus on our technique, getting our hands on the opponent and make sure they don’t get no big runs on us during practice. Because if they get it in practice, pretty sure they’ll get it in games.

“You get your hands on people, anybody, you can pretty much stop the running game. That’s our main thing when we go into games is make sure we get our hands on our opponent and just control the line of scrimmage so the linebackers can flow.”

The Green Bay Packers have been a much more balanced offense this season with the addition of Eddie Lacy. But with Aaron Rodgers out and Seneca Wallace projected to start, Lacy and James Starks can expect to carry an even heavier load.

For the Eagles, that means once again gearing up to stop the run.

As for Logan, he got his first start Sunday at nose tackle in place of the departed Isaac Sopoaga and held up well, finishing the game with four tackles to lead all Eagles defensive linemen.

It didn’t take him long to make an impact either. On the Raiders’ second offensive play, Logan was lined up across from the center.

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Initially, it looked like Darren McFadden had a hole, but Thornton leaned that way, and linebacker Mychal Kendricks was unblocked.

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McFadden decided to try to find a hole to the other side of Logan, but that didn’t work. The rookie shed his block, got his hands on the running back and stopped him after a 1-yard gain.

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“I did a lot of studying on the offense and watching the offensive linemen so I knew if I would bait the running back in one gap, he was gonna go the other way because he’s a shifty back,” Logan said.

“If you get off [your block] too fast, he’s gonna cut it back. Just like a [cat ‘n’ mouse] game with him. Bait him one way, and make him come the other way.”

Later in the quarter, Logan had a similar play. He was lined up over the center and responsible for two gaps.

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Logan initially got double-teamed, but stood his ground and started to show towards McFadden’s initial hole.

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McFadden cut it back, but Logan and Fletcher Cox were there to stop him after a 2-yard run.

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“Get your hands on ’em. Just get your hands on ’em, extending and just looking in the backfield,” Logan said. “You always want to play games with the running back. Put your head in one gap, bait him one way and then just release and get off the block. A lot of people talk about ‘You’re undersized’ and this and that. It’s really not about being undersized. It’s about being the guy with the best hands. Guys with the best hands, quick hands… if you get your hand on your opponent, you pretty much can control them, pretty much can destroy any run inside. So that’s the main thing.”

Logan is 6-2, 309. But what the Eagles really liked about him during draft time were his 34-inch arms.

“Long levers are strong levers, and you want to create ‑ offensive football is body on body, defense football is body off body,” said Chip Kelly. “You want to get off of blocks, and it’s very difficult if you’ve got alligator arms and you’re in here because you’re going to get locked up. You need to get extension. You need to destroy blocks, and one of the ways to do that is to have long arms.  Whether you’re lined up on a tackle or whether you’re lined up on a center, the mechanics of doing that doesn’t change and the ability to have length at that position helps.”

Logan wasn’t perfect. He got caught in a stunt on the Raiders’ 8-yard touchdown run in the second. But overall, it was a strong first start for the third-round pick.

Follow Sheil Kapadia on Twitter and e-mail him at skapadia@phillymag.com.
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