Incoming Bears offensive coordinator Dowell Loggains has been dealt an interesting hand. Besides being on the spot to ensure that Jay Cutler doesn’t backslide as a quarterback, Loggains is tasked now with engineering an offense that has lost nearly one-third of its 2015 yardage production and 30 percent of its touchdowns with the departures of Matt Forte and now Martellus Bennett.
It may be more a reflection on Bears offensive tradition, but in less than three full seasons, Bennett established himself as the 17th-leading receiver in franchise history with 208 catches. That’s more than Greg Olsen in four seasons, Wendell Davis in six and Earl Bennett in six.
But sometimes addition does come via subtraction.
[MORE BEARS: Martellus Bennett has curious role model as he heads to Patriots]
Don’t underestimate the impact of some players on team culture, which was a significant factor in the Bears’ decision to trade away Bennett at a time when they are in the process of John Fox’ing the culture. Individual numbers make for good stories but not necessarily anything meaningful.
Just ask the four different Brandon Marshall (the receiver one) teams; 10 years, zero trips to playoffs. More to the “numbers” point, those non-playoff seasons include six with 100 catches, and in four of those, his teams failed to be better than .500.
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Bennett is on his third team. The Dallas Cowboys reached the postseason in his second season (2009), Bennett’s one playoff trip in eight seasons. He caught 15 passes that year while Jason Witten was grabbed 94. The New York Giants got Bennett on a one-year deal for $2.5 million in 2012 when the Cowboys didn’t make a serious effort to hold onto a tight end who’d just caught 55 passes, scored five touchdowns and played all 16 games.
The Bears do not become better without Bennett. And the New England Patriots will in all likelihood be in the playoffs again. But neither is it a simple assumption that the player leaving wasn’t one who made the whole less than the sum of the parts.
The Bears are back in Chicago and Tom Brady and the Patriots are in town! With a week of practice wrapping up today, here's what's been happening in the lead up to Sunday's Bears-Pats matchup:
- First and foremost, it looks like Khalil Mack is going to play afterall. That's encouraging news, seeing as he didn't practice once this week. Also because he's very good.
- In more surprising news, Allen Robinson has been held out of practice with a groin injury.
- In less surprising news, the Bears are home underdogs this weekend. Never bet against home 'dogs! Right?!
- If you think it feels like a playoff atmosphere at Soldier this weekend, you're not alone. Kyle Long could'nt agree more.
- Those ticket prices, however, are going to look a lot like playoff ticket prices.
- On the Patriots' side of things, it's hard to tell who's hurt, seeing that like half the team is on the injury report.
- Tom Brady will play, though, and there's a lot of comparisons to be made between Brady and Mitchell Trubisky.
- Bill Belichick has been super complimentary of the Bears all week, and that's surely sincere and not at all mind games, nope.
- He wasn't so kind about the Khalil Mack-Lawrence Taylor comparisons, though.
Khalil Mack has yet to miss a game in his NFL career. He doesn’t plan on breaking that streak on Sunday.
ESPN insider Adam Schefter told the “Kirk and Callahan show” on WEEI in Boston that the Bears expect their star pass rusher to play this week against the New England Patriots.
Mack missed practice on Wednesday and Thursday with the ankle injury he suffered last week against the Miami Dolphins.
Defensive coordinator Vic Fangio indicated this week that the outside linebacker could potentially play even if he doesn’t practice due to the injury.
Assuming Mack does take the field on Sunday, he won’t be 100 percent, and it’s unclear how much of an impact he’ll be able to have.
Last week was his least productive game of the season, and he earned a career-low grade from Pro Football Focus, with two missed tackles and only one pressure generated on 33 pass-rushing snaps.
The Bears are going to need more from Mack to slow down Tom Brady and the Patriots offense that’s averaging nearly 40 points per game over the last three weeks.