Gameday: Three Eagles Leftovers
SAN FRANCISCO — As we count down to kickoff, here are three Eagles leftovers to chew on.
1. Nose tackle Bennie Logan is quietly playing really well and has been a key to the Birds’ sound run defense.
Logan leads all Eagles defensive linemen in tackles (18), according to stats tracked by the coaches. NFL.com stats have Logan down for 16 tackles, which ranks third among all defensive linemen.
I asked Logan what the key has been to improving on his performance from a year ago.
“Being able to read and see offensive linemen, their stance, what they’re trying to get to and keeping our linebacker free,” he said. “Make sure ‘Meco [DeMeco Ryans] stays healthy. That’s my biggest thing. If I never get any more tackles, my biggest thing is making sure ‘Meco stays healthy throughout the whole season. He just puts us in situation to be successful. As long as he stays healthy, our defense will stay strong and remain strong. So that’s my main thing. Make sure he’s taken care of when I’m in the game and don’t let the offensive linemen get up on him.”
Chip Kelly, Billy Davis and defensive line coach Jerry Azzinaro stress that they want their linemen to be able to shed blocks and get to the ball-carrier. They track “contacts at the ball” which is another name for tackles.
Logan’s athleticism was on full display last week against Washington, and while he’s not the biggest nose tackle in the league, he feels like he’s a good fit for this particular scheme. Logan bulked up to 320ish in the summer, but found that the added weight slowed him down once the pads came on. He’s now playing at about 315.
“A lot of people think a 3-4 nose tackle just clogs up the middle, let everybody make tackles,” Logan said. “But it’s pretty stupid if you just hold up the middle and the ball goes right there by you, but you’re too lazy to get off the block. In our defense, you’ve gotta be able to stay on the block and also shed the block and make tackles. That’s the thing.
“If people single block me, I’ll make a tackle. If they double team me, ‘Meco makes the tackle. So we’re all working in sync. That’s what me and ‘Meco are always talking about. We always talk about things I need to work on or things that need to be corrected, stuff like that. If they single block me, I should make the tackle. If they double team me, then he should make the tackle. So the whole unit is just working in sync. It’s not just one person or anything like that.”
Logan and the Eagles will face a veteran, physical offensive line today. If they can limit the effectiveness of Frank Gore and Colin Kapernick on the ground, they’ll be in position to go 4-0.
2. When Kelly was coaching at Oregon, he took a trip to Santa Clara to watch Jim Harbaugh and the 49ers practice. Meanwhile, San Francisco offensive coordinator Greg Roman visited Kelly in Eugene.
Kelly said he thought some of the notes Roman took home with him could be seen in the read-option packages the 49ers run with Colin Kaepernick, albeit with their own twist.
“… They added their own wrinkles to it,” he said. “I don’t think when anybody visits anybody they say, ‘Hey, I’m going to take this exactly from them.’ I think you learn and think, ‘How can I apply it to the personnel I have?’ And I think that’s one of the strengths of Jim and Greg – they adapt their offense to their personnel.”
Asked if Kelly and the undefeated Eagles are using ideas and concepts borrowed from Harbaugh, Roman and the 49ers, Kelly said, “Yes, I’m an information gatherer.”
Asked about Kelly’s visit, Harbaugh said: “Football talk. He’s a great guy to talk to or talk football to. I enjoy him as a person. He’s got all the qualities I like in football coaches, football guy.”
What qualities specifically?
“Just a football guy. That says it all. Football man, encompasses all the things I like about football people. Great competitor. He’s a great coach, loves the game, and I appreciate those qualities.
As for the influence on what the 49ers do with Colin Kaepernick, Harbaugh said: “He’s got great ideas. He’s an innovator, he’s an improver. There’s a share there.”
3. Kickoff is set for 4:25 p.m. EST. The Eagles are drawing FOX’s No. 1 broadcast team for the second week in a row. It’ll be Joe Buck and Troy Aikman with the call, while Erin Andrews roams the sideline.
To see what games are on in your area, click here.
The Eagles are 4.5-point underdogs, according to Bovada.
Meanwhile, the Eagles got a surprise wake-up call last night:
Fire alarm at Eagles hotel in SF went off at about 2:00 am PT. Nothing like an early morning fire alarm on the day of.
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) September 28, 2014
Which cruel cruel Niners fan pulled the fire alarm at our hotel?!
— Emmanuel Acho (@thEMANacho) September 28, 2014
And finally, some injury notes for the 49ers. Safety Antoine Bethea is nuring an ankle injury and is listed as questionable. Oher notable 49ers listed as questionable: CB Tramaine Brock (toe), T Anthony Davis (hamstring), TE Vernon Davis (ankle, knee), TE Vance McDonald (knee).
Davis is expected to go:
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) September 28, 2014