Bears

Bears promote Dowell Loggains to offensive coordinator in continuity statement

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Bears promote Dowell Loggains to offensive coordinator in continuity statement

Bears coach John Fox said in his season-ending remarks last Monday that the team’s systems are in place and not dependent solely on coordinator Adam Gase as far as the offense is concerned. Fox was saying without saying it directly that not only the systems, but also the key coaching personnel were in place.

In a move that marks a clear statement of direction for the offense and makes a statement that continuity as well as talent will matter, the Bears promoted quarterbacks coach Dowell Loggains to offensive coordinator to replace Gase, who took the job of head coach for the Miami Dolphins late last week.

“Dowell played a critical role on our offense last year,” said coach John Fox in a statement. “He’s an excellent coach with experience as a play-caller and a broad knowledge of offensive football.  He has earned the respect of our players because they know he can help them get better.

The Bears last season took a first step toward developing true continuity in their offense when the Fox coaching staff, including Loggains, took the quarterback abilities of Jay Cutler to another and sustainable level.

The next step came Monday when Loggains succeeded Gase.

[SHOP: Gear up Bears fans!]

“As I mentioned at the end of the season, our systems are in place,” Fox said. “We will always look to evolve because the NFL is fluid and adapting is key to good coaching.  Dowell will help us build on what we started as we head into the 2016 season.”

What the Bears under Fox started was a solid, consistent philosophy built on his mantra of running the football. Loggains was working with Gase and Cutler as the architects of game plans consistent with that philosophy, regardless of what personnel were available for the passing offense. The Bears under Gase ran the ball consistently (45.7 percent running even in games with a healthy Alshon Jeffery, for example) with or without their top receivers, and Loggains can be expected to continue in that direction.

The Bears typically ran at least 25 times per game and never threw more than 45 passes (once, at Kansas City) in a game. Loggains has maintained a simple grasp on that factor in the overall priority of ball security.

“The unfortunate thing is that if you throw the ball enough, if you’re calling 44-45 passes in a game, you are going to throw interceptions,” Loggains said during last season. “Nobody in the history of the game has gone without one.”

With Loggains as Bears quarterbacks coach, Cutler reached a career-high 92.3 passer rating, with 64.4 completion percentage (311-of-483), 2.3 interception percentage and 7.58 passing yards per attempt all second-bests in his NFL career. His 11 interceptions were the fewest in a season in which he appeared in at least 15 games.

[MORE: Inside the Loggains-Cutler relationship and its effect on the Bears]

“I think Adam and Dowell and all the coaches have been selective in our gameplans,” Cutler observed late last season, “and then on game day as far as me going through my reads and not trying to do too much and force the ball to guys and just letting them naturally make plays because we have some playmakers even if we’ve lost some of our other playmakers.”

Loggains has eight years NFL coaching experience including two seasons as offensive coordinator and five as a quarterbacks coach.

In 2014, Loggains was the quarterbacks coach for the Cleveland Browns. The Browns finished the 2014 season with 3,678 passing yards, 11th-most in franchise history. Their 7.33 yards per attempt in 2014 was the highest for the franchise since 1992. Their 21 pass plays of 25 or more yards were tied for the second most by the franchise in the last 21 years and the most since 1995.

From 2008-13, Loggains was on the coaching staff of the Tennessee Titans, including serving as offensive coordinator in 2013 and during the final five games of the 2012 season. In 2013, the Titans were off to a 3-1 start as starting quarterback Jake Locker had a 99.0 passer rating, before injuries derailed his season. Locker finished with an 86.7 passer rating in seven starts (4-3 record).

From 2010-12, Loggains was the quarterbacks coach/passing game coordinator of the Titans, working with Kerry Collins, Vince Young, Matt Hasselbeck and Locker. The Titans’ 4,113 passing yards and 84.4 passer rating in 2011 are sixth and seventh-highest in franchise single-season history, respectively. In 2010 he helped Collins post the third-best passer rating of his career (82.2) and Vince Young register the highest passer rating of his career (98.6).

[ALSO: What offensive free agents could fit with the Bears?]

Loggains joined the Titans in 2006, working as a coaching administrative assistant for two seasons before being named a quality control coach in 2008, a role he held for two years. Prior to his time in Tennessee, Loggains spent the 2005 season as a scouting assistant with the Dallas Cowboys. His duties included assisting with opponent film breakdown, self-scouting and statistical analysis to be used in game-plan preparation.

Loggains has worked with several successful NFL coordinators during his time in the NFL, including Gase, Sean Payton, Norm Chow, Mike Heimerdinger and Chris Palmer.

The Newport, Ark. native was a four-year letterman as a quarterback and holder at the University of Arkansas, where he appeared in 50 games. He graduated with a Bachelor of Science and master’s degree in education. He was a two-year starter at quarterback for Abilene Cooper (Texas) High School.

Putting Bill Belichick’s complimentary comments about the Bears in context

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USA TODAY

Putting Bill Belichick’s complimentary comments about the Bears in context

Bill Belichick had plenty of good things to say about Matt Nagy and the 2018 Bears during a conference call with reporters on Wednesday. Some of the highlights:

 

On the Bears’ season as a whole:

 

“The Bears have lost two games, one on a game when they were in control of the game and another one they lost in overtime. This really looks like a 5-0 team to me, if you change one or two plays. You can say that about a lot of teams, but that’s the league we’re in.”

 

On Mitch Trubisky:

 

“I think he’s done a good job of getting ball to the players that are open or in space and letting them be playmakers. He has a lot of them. That’s the quarterback’s job is to deliver the ball to the playmakers and let them go. I think he’s done a good job of that. He’s a tough kid, which I respect. That’s what we would ask our quarterbacks to do, to make plays to help our team win, to get the ball to the players that are open and in space. It’s not about stats. It’s about doing what you need to do to win.”

 

On Tarik Cohen’s usage:

 

“He plays about a little bit less than 50 percent of the time and he’s in a lot of different places, he’s hard to find. He’s a dynamic player that can run, catch, really threaten every yard of the field from sideline to sideline, up the middle, deep. You can throw it to him, you can hand it to him and he’s elusive with the ball and he’s elusive to be able to get open so the quarterback can get him the ball. Those are great skills to have. Any one of those is good and he’s got several of them.

 

“He’s very hard to tackle. But they do a great job mixing him, not just putting him in the game but who he’s in the game with, what the combinations are and then where they locate him and so forth. There are a lot of multiples. It’s hard. Coach Nagy does a good job with that and he’s a special player that you gotta know where he is at all times.”

 

On Trubisky’s 54-yard bomb to Taylor Gabriel on Sunday:

 

“That’s about as good a throw and catch as I’ve seen all year. The execution on that was like 99 out of 100. It was a great, great throw, great route, great catch. There was like a few inches to get the ball in there 50 yards downfield and that’s where it was.”

 

On Akiem Hicks’ impact, who played for the Patriots in 2015:

 

“He’s hard to block. It doesn’t make any difference what the play is, you can run to him and he’s hard to block. You can run away from him, and he makes tackles for loss on the back side. He’s quick and can get around those blocks when there’s more space back there because everybody is going to the front side. He can power rush. He can rush the edges with his quickness. He’s a very, very disruptive player. He’s hard to block on everything.

 

“I appreciate all of the plays he makes. He makes plays on all three downs, against all types of plays, whether it’s reading screen passes or power rushing the pocket to help the ends, to help (Leonard) Floyd and Mack and (Aaron) Lynch rush on the edge. He’s a powerful, disruptive guy. (Eddie) Goldman has done a good job of that. (Bilal) Nichols has done a good job of that too. They have some really powerful guys inside that are hard to block, and they change the line of scrimmage in the running game and the passing game. It really creates a problem, frees up the linebackers in the running game and helps the ends because the quarterback can’t step up in the pocket in the passing game.”

 

On Matt Nagy:

 

“Obviously he's done a great job, as has Ryan with building the team. They have a lot of good players. They have a really experienced staff and they do a great job in all three areas of the game. They're good in the kicking game, they're good on defense they're good on offense. They have highly-skilled players in all three areas.

 

“It's a well-balanced football team that does a lot of things well. Run the ball. Stop the run. Throw the ball. Rush the passer. Intercept passes. Return kicks. Cover kicks. Cover punts. They're at the top of the league in all those categories. Turnovers. Points off turnovers. It doesn't really matter what area you want to talk about, they're pretty good at all of them. That's why they're a good football team.

 

“Coach Nagy and his staff certainly deserve a lot of credit. It's not a one-man band. They're all doing a good job. It's a good football team. I'm sure there will be a lot of energy in the stadium this week. It will be a great test for us to go into Chicago and be competitive against them.”

 

While listening to Belichick rave about the Bears, this missive from former Patriots general manager Michael Lombardi stands out:

 

“Whenever Belichick tells the media on Mondays or Tuesdays that he has already moved on to the next game, trust me, he’s not lying. I worked with Bill for five years in Cleveland, and then during the 2014 and 2015 seasons in New England. Belichick treats every game like a Super Bowl; no detail is too small, no possible scenario or situation goes overlooked. I have heard Belichick break down a bumbling Jaguars team as if it was the reigning two-time Super Bowl winner and treat Blake Bortles like he’s the second coming of Aaron Rodgers. Belichick does it with tape to back up his claims, only showing his team the opponent’s greatest strengths. (With Bortles, I swear, he must have used George Lucas to doctor the video.) No Patriots opponent is underestimated or taken lightly — EVER.”

 

One of the myriad things that make Belichick the best coach in the NFL — and maybe the best coach in NFL history — is how he never takes an opponent lightly, and then how he’s so successful at scheming against what an opponent does best.

 

The Bears are undoubtedly better in 2018 than they were in the John Fox era, or when these two teams last met in 2014 (when New England waxed a moribund Marc Trestman side, 51-23). And a lot of Belichick’s points are valid – that throw Trubisky made to Gabriel was outstanding, for example.

 

But Belichick talks this way about every team he faces. And that, again, is part of what makes him the best at what he does.

Under Center Podcast: What will we learn about the Bears against the Patriots?

Under Center Podcast: What will we learn about the Bears against the Patriots?

On this week's Under Center podcast, JJ Stankevitz and John “Moon” Mullin look at how Bill Belichick and New England will attack Matt Nagy and the Bears on Sunday, and if Mitch Trubisky can get to the point where he can reliably lead a late-game scoring drive like Tom Brady is so good at doing.

You can listen to the whole thing here, or in the embedded player below: