Bears

Bears mix of QB Jay Cutler with OC Dowell Loggains still a critical work in progress

Bears mix of QB Jay Cutler with OC Dowell Loggains still a critical work in progress

Back in January, before the Bears promoted Dowell Loggains from quarterbacks coach to offensive coordinator, CSNChicago.com took an advance look at Loggains and how he might fit with Jay Cutler were the Bears to make Loggains yet another in the long list of coordinators for Cutler. With the start of training camp at hand, a longer look at this pivotal coach-player situation comes into focus.

No change made by the Bears this offseason carries the weight of the one moving Dowell Loggains to offensive coordinator to replaced departed Adam Gase. Quarterback Jay Cutler is coming off the best statistical season of his career, founded on the ball-security foundation instilled by Gase and Loggains. The Gase-to-Loggains succession plan projects to catapult Cutler, and with him the offense, to a next level.

Not necessarily.

For now, as they were when Mike Martz, Aaron Kromer and others took the Chicago O.C. job, all the right things are being said:

From Loggains on Cutler’s improvement under Gase and himself: “I don’t think Adam or I should take the credit,” Loggains said. “I think Jay made the choice to improve and work on the things that we asked him to work on. And I hope that process continues.”

From Cutler: “I’ve known Dowell like I’ve known Adam, for a long time… . The backbone of this offense is still the same. Even if Adam was here I think we still would have changed some stuff and got better in certain areas. So we’re just kind of continuing down that road.”

But Cutler having a positive relationship with an incoming coach means…nothing.

Indeed, his history is not encouraging, even with coaches he ostensibly thought highly of coming in, even ones already on staff or had worked with him previously.

Mike Tice was promoted from offensive line coach to coordinator when Mike Martz was fired after the 2011 season, Cutler’s previous best for avoiding interceptions. Tice had been instrumental in balancing the offense in 2010 when Martz’s schemes and protections were getting Cutler annihilated.

But by mid-2012, Cutler’s relationship and communications with Tice had deteriorated to the point of backup Josh McCown needing to serve as go-between.

Notably, the 2012 friction was developing even as the Bears were on their way to a 10-6 season, and with Jeremy Bates having been hired as quarterbacks coach. That was based in part on Bates’ relationships with Cutler from a 2006-08 overlapping stint with the Denver Broncos. Cutler’s relationship with Tice was toxic, and Bates went down along with Tice and the rest of Lovie Smith’s staff after that season.

The Bears have added Dave Ragone, a member of the Tennessee Titans staff with Loggains and having played two NFL games in 2003. But the Bears’ offense will turn on the Cutler-Loggains axis and it relationship elements, both football and inter-personal.

“There’s definitely some honesty there,” Cutler said, smiling. “He’s not afraid to tell me when I’m completely wrong and rightfully so. I like to tell him whenever I think we’re not doing things right or we need to change things.

“I think at the core of that we kind of cut through some stuff and we get things done a little bit quicker… .No one’s really sensitive. We just try to get it done.”

When Gase talked, Cutler listened. Will Cutler’s receptors stay open when something goes wrong, as something invariably will sometime in an NFL season? That is on Cutler, and his openness to yet another coordinator was at the root of his improvement to a career-best passer rating of 92.3.

[SHOP: Buy a Jay Cutler jersey here]

Loggains has been notably vocal during open practices, with more than Cutler alone. That is a departure from Gase’s demeanor, although Gase was more than capable of tough love when anyone on his side of the football needed it.

“I think it’s a mutual respect,” Loggains said of his Cutler relationship. “I think I respect him and he respects me. I think that when you have that mutual respect then all dialogue is legal. So whatever I say to him, he knows where it’s coming from and vice versa.”

Cred issues?

Some questions hanging over Loggains have less to do with Loggains himself, but rather his background.

Gase came to the Bears from two years as offensive coordinator for the Denver Broncos under John Fox. Gase, quarterbacks coach for the preceding two seasons, moved into that job when Mike McCoy was hired to coach the San Diego Chargers.

The Denver gig included three seasons working with Peyton Manning. While Manning needed scant coaching at that point in his career, the point was less how much Gase coached Manning as much as what Gase brought with him from his time with Manning. Gase knew from up close what a Hall of Fame quarterback looked like.

Loggains’ NFL career stops have accorded him time with no one approaching Manning’s stature. Not surprisingly, in time with three different teams, Loggains has not been involved with an offense that ranked in the top half of the league:

Year Team Job Offense results
2015 Bears QB 21st ydg, 21st pass, 23rd pts.
2014 Browns QB 27th pass, 27th pts.
2013 Titans O.C. 21st ydg, 21st pass, 19th pts.
2012 Titans QB/O.C. 26th ydg, 22nd pass, 23rd pts.
2011 Titans QB 17th ydg, 15th pass, 21st pts.

The Tennessee Titans’ quarterbacks during Loggains’ years there were Ryan Fitzpatrick, Matt Hasselbeck and Jake Locker. The 2014 Browns put up the seventh-highest passing yardage in franchise history, with Brian Hoyer, Connor Shaw and Johnny Manziel as their quarterbacks.

No slight of any of the quarterbacks, but a point around Loggains might be not how little the offenses achieved in his time with them, but rather, how much.

“I think that I’ve had an opportunity working with Kyle Shanahan in Cleveland and Adam Gase this last year, obviously there’s stuff I’ve taken from both of them,” Loggains said. “Going back in the quarterback room, I think it was good for me. It was a good experience. Things you obviously change are, ‘hey, in Tennessee I like the way we did this and we’ll bring that here. In Cleveland, I like the way we did whatever.’. So it’s gaining knowledge from being around other people and being in different situations.”

Power Rankings Roundup: Back down the Bears go

Power Rankings Roundup: Back down the Bears go

Well, it was fun while it lasted. 

After the Bears' fiasco in Miami, the Power(s)(Rankings) that be have cooled on Trubisky and Co. Squandering several chances to put away a probably-inferior team will do that. 

Here's what they're saying: 

NFL.com: #11, down 3 -- 
Football is often hard to explain. The Bears came into their Week 6 matchup in Miami flying high and having generated 18 sacks in their four prior games, putting them on pace to tie their own NFL record, set in 1984 (the year before they won the Super Bowl). Then Chicago was stonewalled by a mediocre Dolphins offensive line.

ESPN: #12, down 5 -- 
Chicago ranks in the top five in points allowed per game, opposing QBR, sacks and interceptions. Mitchell Trubisky has seen an uptick in production as well: He has thrown nine TD passes in his past two games, matching the total he threw in his first 15 career games.

Washington Post: #12, down 7 -- 
The Bears had every chance to establish themselves as the NFC’s third-best team and the primary challenger to the Rams and Saints. But they somehow found a way to lose Sunday at Miami thanks to RB Jordan Howard’s fumble at the 1-yard line, QB Mitchell Trubisky’s brutal interception in the end zone and the down-the-stretch breakdowns on their supposedly powerful defense.

USA Today: #12, down 4 -- 
Speaking of Osweiler, we can only assume Khalil Mack was taking pity on the man he once sacked five times in a single afternoon.

CBS Sports: #12, down 3 -- 
That was a bad look in losing on the road to Miami. The command of the division is gone.

Chicago Tribune: #13, down 6 -- 
Tough bounce-back spot with the Patriots coming to Soldier Field, but a long list of players is eager to atone after allowing a “W” to slip away against the Dolphins.

Sporting News: #15, down 7 -- 
Mitchell Trubisky came out firing after the bye, but not trusting Jordan Howard and the power running game enough in a positive game flow is inexplicable. Matt Nagy is going through growing pains, too.

Bleacher Report: #7 (!), N/A -- 
Despite a crushing 28-31 loss in overtime against a Dolphins team that fumbled in the end zone—giving Chicago another opportunity to win that they couldn't capitalize on—the Bears have proved to be a tough team so far this season.

Khalil Mack to undergo additional tests on right ankle this week

Khalil Mack to undergo additional tests on right ankle this week

My kingdom for a healthy right ankle. 

After Khalil Mack hurt his ankle during the Bears' 31-28 loss to Miami last Sunday, the team will reportedly send Mack for further testing: 

While we still don't know exactly what this entails, it's obviously not great news. Mack's been the leader of a defense that ranks as one of -- if not the -- NFL's best. He leads the team in sacks (5) -- for which he's also in the top-10 of all defensive players in the NFL-- and forced fumbles (4). 

And who just so happens to be coming to Soldier Field next Sunday? Tom Brady! Rob Gronkowski! A Patriots team that has succeeded for YEARS on exploiting bad linebacker matchups! Terrific.