As a 3-4 nose tackle, Bennie Logan was one of the best players in the NFL at stopping the run last season. Philadelphia's run defense clearly suffered when Logan got hurt and had to miss games towards the end of the season. In 2016, Logan won't be playing the same position he has for the last three season. Instead, he'll be lining up as a defensive tackle in the Eagles' new 4-3 defense under Jim Schwartz. Can Logan still be effective with the scheme change? His defensive coordinator is certainly optimistic.
"Yeah, just because he was drafted for [the 3-4] doesn't mean that that's the only thing he can do," Schwartz said after Saturday's training camp practice. "That doesn't mean that's his only skill set. When he played at LSU, he was in there pass rushing the last couple years. I think he's come out on a lot of pass situations. We're going to give him the opportunity to stay out there and rush. He’s going to have to take advantage of that opportunity and show that he can win the one-on-ones and he can complement [Fletcher Cox] and he can complement all our other defensive ends.
"You know, one-trick ponies are tough to play with in the NFL. I like -- again, just because he was drafted that way doesn't mean that's the only thing he can do. I'm excited about him, and it's going to be fun to watch him sort of expand his horizons a little bit."
Playing in the 3-4, Logan was required to control the gaps. He was also taken off the field on obvious passing downs, as Schwartz mentioned. Now Logan will get a chance to attack the quarterback more often. It'll be interesting to see how he fares in his new role.
Logan is already a player who brings maximum effort, but he has even more motivation to succeed since he's in a contract year. The 26-year-old defensive tackle could be primed for a big season.
Watch Schwartz's Saturday press conference in the video below via the Bleeding Green Nation Facebook page.
Read below for a transcript.
Q. DE Marcus Smith was originally draft by the Eagles as a 3-4 outside linebacker. Have you seen enough to decide whether his skill set is better suited to being a 4-3 defensive end?
JIM SCHWARTZ: He's a defensive end for us. That's his position. You know, the thing that's good about him and guys like Connor [DE Connor Barwin] and [DE] Brandon Graham, having the background in a 3-4 the last couple years, it makes some of our zone dog, some of our sort of third-down stuff, where you're running some blitz stuff, using those guys in coverage makes it a little bit easier to use those guys. Those guys are used to doing it. But he's a defensive end for us. We like his skill set there.
Q. So far through OTAs and mini-camp and the first few days of training camp, Graham and DE Vinny Curry have looked like they've exclusively lined up on the left side.
JIM SCHWARTZ: Yeah, we'll be switching them. Yeah, we'll be switching them. Same thing with our corners. We get those guys moved around an awful lot. With corners there might be a week where we want to match a certain guy on a certain player and he's got to be used to playing right and left. Maybe an injury forces us to do something like that, and the same thing up front. We'll use rotation up front. We want to try to get as much production as we can out of guys, and I've said this before, it's a little bit like those [baseball] relievers coming out of the bullpen that are heating it up at 98 and 99 [miles per hour]: it's hard to do that for seven innings, but you can do it for a couple innings, and that's what we expect from those guys. They have to be able to play multiple positions and multiple sides if we're going to have that kind of rotation up front.
Q. What does CB Eric Rowe need to do in order to get that starting corner job?
JIM SCHWARTZ: Just like everybody else, [he] needs to be consistent from practice to practice, needs to make plays on the ball, needs to be physical in the run game. And that [goes for] Eric, that's Leodis [CB Leodis McKelvin], that's Brooks [CB Ron Brooks], that's [CB] Nolan Carroll. You guys will probably get on me [for] whoever I forget [to name], but let's just put it as all the corners.
Q. CB Jalen Mills, too?
JIM SCHWARTZ: All the corners, yeah. All the corners. They're all going to be judged on the same thing. All of them are in a little different spot, all of them have different strengths, different weaknesses. One of the things for us in training camp, is trying to find that best combination of guys and use them in the best way. So he's no different than anybody there.
Q. How much of a factor is getting two guys out there whose skills kind of complement each other?
JIM SCHWARTZ: Yeah, I think that [goes for] corners. I think that you could also consider that [for] corner and safety. I think [it also applies to] linebackers, defensive ends and defensive tackles. It's sort of a corny cliché, but if you really look, we've got to find a way that our whole is greater than the sum of our parts. That's good team play. That's our job as coaches, and that's the job of the players.
But if we can find a way to, for lack of a better expression, to make one plus one equal three, then we've done our job. And the way you do that, is have complementary players. I told our guys the other night, we have the Olympics coming up and the record for the 400 meters is like 43 seconds or something. The record for the 4x100, which is the same distance, is like 36 seconds. The idea there, is teamwork can trump individual play. And I think if we're doing our job in training camp, if our players are responding well in the scheme, if we have a scheme that matches the players, you'll see the sum should be greater than the individual parts. We're not there yet. Believe me, we're not there yet.
Q. Mills showed that he can cover running around in shorts and shells. What does he have to do now that the pads are on and now that there's contact?
JIM SCHWARTZ: You know, there's really not a whole lot different for those guys when it comes to coverage, whether they're in full pads or not. Probably the biggest thing in coverage -- Because they're very rarely using their shoulder pads in coverage. They're using hands and they're using feet. The contact that comes out of corners is usually hands and feet. The thing with pads is stepping up and playing in the run game, because you can't play with corners that won't attack the run, and those guys have to all prove that they can step up and thud a running back and go take on a pulling guard at times. That's part of their job description.
Q. What did the film show about Mills as a tackler?
JIM SCHWARTZ: You know, it was good because he played a lot of different positions [in college at LSU]. He played in the nickel. There was even some thought of him playing safety here. He's done those things, and you don't put a bad tackler in at those nickel and safety positions. But what he did at college, honestly, really doesn't have a whole lot of an effect on what's going to go on now. You don't get any points for that.
Q. I was going to ask about Carroll and Ron Brooks. At practice today, what happened?
JIM SCHWARTZ: Yeah, neither guy finished. Yeah, you're not going to catch me on injuries, brother. [laughter]
Q. McKelvin was a pretty high pick by Buffalo in 2008. When you look at his career, what's held him back from being a year in, year out starter?
JIM SCHWARTZ: Well, it took him a little while to get started. I thought he really came on to his own the year before I got to Buffalo, 2012. He had a really good year, and the year I was there he was playing at a Pro Bowl level I thought until he broke his leg, ankle, whatever it was in the Miami game. So, what happened before that, I really can't speak to. Last year was an injury thing. He started on the PUP, and then when they came out -- that was a team that was blessed with a lot of corners. Just a fact of where they've been the last couple years. But he's responded well here. He's a veteran player. It's nice having guys like Leodis; guys like Nolan Carroll; guys like [S] Malcolm Jenkins; [S] Rodney McLeod. You know, I forget anybody, just fill in the name and the veteran so that you guys don't try to read between lines that aren't there.
Q. It looks like you're going with Sam-Will at outside backer. Wasn’t sure if you’re going left to right. Is that kind of where you're looking?
JIM SCHWARTZ: Yeah, right now we're flipping them, and it sort of falls into the question before – getting guys used to both sides – and it also compartmentalizes their learning a little bit at this point and just trying to get those guys sort of up to speed right away. So, right now we're doing it. There might come a time when we get a little bit farther in that we tell them in practice [to] just stay on their side so they get used to playing different techniques. But right now it helps compartmentalize what they're being asked to do.
Q. With the referees here the last couple days, what are you looking to get out of that time?
JIM SCHWARTZ: You know, the communication between the officials and the coaches is probably always there, but the communication between the players and the officials this time of year is really good. Those guys being in our meetings, out here on the practice field, they -- it's not just a flag gets thrown, it's why and that communication back and forth. It really doesn't matter what a coach thinks. It really doesn't matter what a player thinks. It's what the officials saw on the field, and it's our job to educate ourselves on -- to play the game the way they're seeing it because that's the way they're going to officiate. So, we can complain all the time, ‘Hey, that's not a foul.’ If they're going to throw the flag, well we have to play it as if it's going to be a foul. And same thing, if we think it's a foul and they don't, well, we have to play to that standard. That's the standard. And it helps us in a non-competitive situation to get educated on the way they see things. We don't have a full staff out here, but there's great communication. We have meetings together with the players and the officials, and it's always my favorite time of the year with the officials. That call didn't cost you a game, and you can learn a lot when it comes to when you don't have a horse in the race, dog in the hunt, whatever that expression is. But when they throw it out here in one-on-ones and they can say, ‘Hey, you arm-barred the guy,’ that's a lot different than in the game because in the game you never think a foul is against you and you think the opponent fouled every play. So, I think it helps us.
Q. LB Nigel Bradham, you know him better than most here. What kind of player is he and what kind of person is he?
JIM SCHWARTZ: I think you're going to like the way he plays football. He's a tough, physical player. He plays fast. You know, he's a guy that had a little bit of injuries last year [and] wasn't able to finish the year, but he fits what we're doing. He's a professional. He's young, but he's -- it's hard to call him a vet, but I guess he is a vet. If I call [S] Rodney McLeod a vet, I've got to call Nigel a vet. Good to have him here.