Dowell Loggains' relationship with Jay Cutler (likely) a Bears positive


Dowell Loggains' relationship with Jay Cutler (likely) a Bears positive

UPDATE: Bears officially promoted Dowell Loggains to offensive coordinator on Monday. Click here for more.

One strong positive on the resume’ of quarterbacks coach Dowell Loggains to succeed Adam Gase as the next Bears offensive coordinator is his relationship with quarterback Jay Cutler, and his role in helping Cutler reach a new level of quarterbacking.

“Dowell is good,” Cutler said. “He started at a young age. He’s still pretty young -- he’s only two or three years older than me, so a lot of football in his short span of coaching career and playing career. Innovative guy, lot of energy, like the rest of our offensive staff, which is good. He’s not afraid to push the group and try to get everyone better."

But a presumed relationship with Cutler is not a presumption of success or even harmony within the offensive family.

Jeremy Bates was Cutler’s Denver Broncos quarterbacks coach in 2007-08, came to Chicago in 2012 as Mike Tice’s QB coach, and was gone in the mass firings that followed Lovie Smith’s 10-6 final season.

When Mike Martz served as offensive coordinator, he was hired only after he’d flown to Nashville to interview – or be interviewed by? – Cutler. His relationship with Cutler was outwardly positive through the run to the 2010 playoffs. But by the time of Cutler’s thumb injury in mid-2011, the quarterback had directed F-bombs toward the coordinator over in-game disagreements.

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Reality is that coach John Fox is not going to tailor any coach hiring to suit one player. Still, Loggains has been an NFL offensive coordinator, called plays in games and would step into the job with an offensive system and philosophy already in place, which was not the case in the changes from Ron Turner to Martz and Martz to Tice, for example.

What this means is that Cutler would be going into an offseason preparing to work with his sixth different coordinator in just eight Chicago seasons, but this one comes in with the baseline of, as Fox said, “our systems are our systems.”

And Loggains has understood both Cutler, working with him on the specifics of technique, footwork and the rest, and also the hugely significant overall mindset that a quarterback needs and that Cutler hasn’t appeared to truly have in the past.

“I think it’s just getting him comfortable,” Loggains said last season. “The key to playing quarterback is getting the other 10 guys around you to do their jobs. When everyone’s where they’re supposed to be when they’re supposed to be there, it helps him and that’s a credit to a lot of his teammates, these younger guys who’ve stepped up, and credit to the assistant coaches, battling injuries and it’s a group effort.

[MORE: Bears thoughts following wild-card weekend]

“I do believe the No. 1 thing in quarterback play is getting the other 10 guys to do their jobs first.”

That holistic thinking subtly shifts the role of the quarterback, which obviously has “playmaker” at the top, to one of facilitator. The genius of the greats at the position is what they did/do to get the football into others’ hands and making the offensive line better. Even with the tumult on the Bears’ offensive line this year, the Bears still were still middle of the pack in pass protection, one of five teams to allow 33 sacks, two of which (Carolina, Pittsburgh) are in the divisional round of the playoffs.

“[Loggains is] extremely talented,” Cutler said, adding, “bright, has a lot of energy as well, has been around quarterbacks for a long time, played the position in high school, has been around really good coaches his entire career, been blessed in that regard. He’s a sponge. He took all the good stuff from all the coaches.

“I’m not saying that he doesn’t make his mistakes because we all do. But he’s done a really good job of managing our room, from the ‘3’ to me and he works well with the rest of the coaches developing the plan. I think Adam [Gase] would testify to it that he’s been a large help to me and him both.”

The Bears arguably were well served with a reserved, prove-it approach to Cutler in the weeks after Fox, Gase, Loggains and even GM Ryan Pace were hired. For the first time in Chicago, Cutler’s situation wasn’t guaranteed by virtue of being traded for by a Jerry Angelo or handed a $122 million contract by a Phil Emery.

But for whatever credit is due Loggains for the changes in Cutler and his game, the coach is pointing the finger rather than the thumb.

“[Cutler] deserves all the credit because he’s worked his tail to be better at it,” Loggains said.

Rob Gronkowski 'highly unlikely' to play Sunday against the Bears

Rob Gronkowski 'highly unlikely' to play Sunday against the Bears

Sunday's game against Tom Brady and the Patriots will be a tough test for the Bears, but it looks like they're going to receive a big break.

According to ESPN's Adam Schefter, Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski didn't travel with the Patriots to Chicago and is "highly unlikely" to play Sunday.

Avoiding Gronkowski, who is one of Brady's favorite targets, would be a huge break for the Bears' defense. In six games this season, the tight end has 26 receptions for 405 yards and a touchdown; in 14 games last season, Gronkowski had 69 catches for 1,084 yards and eight touchdowns.

Gronkowski has not officially been ruled out yet, though time is running out for the Patriots to make a decision.

Meanwhile, Khalil Mack appears set to play Sunday despite dealing with an ankle injury. Between having Mack on the field and Gronkowski off of it, good news keeps coming for the Bears' defense.

Final thoughts: Cody Parkey quickly moves on from missed game-winning kick

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Final thoughts: Cody Parkey quickly moves on from missed game-winning kick

There’s, probably, only one position in sports that can match the you-had-one-job scrutiny of a placekicker attempting a critical field goal late in a football game. As in: If you make the kick, it was expected; if you miss it, well, you didn’t do the one thing you were brought on to do. 

The comparison here is a closer in baseball. The expectation is whoever is called upon with a one-to-three-run lead in the ninth inning will convert the save and win his team the game. 

But when a closer blows a save and is in the spotlight during baseball’s regular season, there’s always a game the next day or, at worst, in two days. The immediacy and pace of a Major League Baseball team’s schedule lends itself to closers having to “flush” a bad outing and move on to the next one, since it might be tomorrow. 

For Bears kicker Cody Parkey, though, he’s had to wait a week until he gets his next “meaningful” chance at making a field goal after missing a game-winning 53-yard attempt last weekend against the Miami Dolphins. But moving on from a critical missed kick has never, and is not, a problem for the fifth-year veteran. 

“(It takes) five minutes,” Parkey said. “You kick the ball, and if it doesn’t go in you’re not going to sit there and cry on the field, you’re going to continue to move on with your life. I don’t think there’s really much to it other than knowing you’re going to have to kick another one sometime throughout the season, next game, in the next week, you never know. You stay ready so you’ll be ready for the next week.”

Not allowing those missed kicks to fester is an important trait for a placekicker to possess. What helps Parkey quickly work through his misses is focusing on having a good week of kicking in practice, and also an even-keel mindset that’s been instilled in him since a young age. 

“I think I’ve always been pretty mellow,” Parkey said. “At a young age, my coaches told me never let the highs get to high, never let the lows get too low. And I’ve kind of taken that to heart. If I miss a game winner, make a game winner, I’m going to have the same demeanor. I’m just going to be super chill and knowing it’s a game, it’s supposed to be fun, we’re supposed to go out there and try our best. I put in a lot of work and I try my best on the field.”

That’s something, too, that special teams coach Chris Tabor sees in Parkey. 

“He's always been like that,” Tabor said. “He hit a good ball, his line was just off. In his career going in he was 7-of-8 over 50 yards. I'll be honest with you, I thought he was going to make it. And next time we have that situation, I know he will make it.” 

Age is just a number

Sunday will mark the 6th time in Tom Brady’s career that the 41-year-old has faced a head coach younger than him, but the first time it’ll be a coach other than Miami’s Adam Gase (who’s 40). Brady is 3-2 against Gase’s Dophins. 

Matt Nagy, meanwhile, is also 40. Brady just missed playing Kyle Shanahan (38) and Sean McVay (32), facing the San Francisco 49ers and Los Angeles Rams in 2016, a year before both those youthful coaches were hired. 

Meanwhile, the youngest player on the Bears — 21-year-old Roquan Smith — was three years old when Brady made his unassuming NFL debut on Nov. 23, 2000. 

They said it

A couple of amusing one-liners out of Halas Hall this week…

Nagy, when it was brought to his attention that Mitch Trubisky (105.6) has a better passer rating than Brady (98.2), chuckled: “You want to say that one more time?” 

Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski, when asked if he’d ever heard of “Baby Gronk” Adam Shaheen: “(long pause)… Sometimes.”