Bears

New Bears OC Dowell Loggains has been dealt an interesting hand

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New Bears OC Dowell Loggains has been dealt an interesting hand

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.

Is Bears “D” in “football shape?” Lacking ability to finish? Fourth-quarter fades raise questions

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USA Today

Is Bears “D” in “football shape?” Lacking ability to finish? Fourth-quarter fades raise questions

During the critical fourth-quarter Oakland Raiders drive for a game-winning touchdown, one former Pro Bowl’er and NFL observer remarked to this writer that he was surprised to see a lot of hands on hips and mouth-breathing by members of the Bears defense – two common signs of being gassed.

Critiquing conditioning – or lack of – is problematic the way judging pain tolerance is. And if the Raiders score were an isolated incident, the question likely doesn’t come up.

But something is amiss. While the Bears defense remains among the NFL’s best, at least statistically, a shadow of concern is falling over the defense and its ability to close out games that it has within its reach.

The Bears held fourth-quarter leads over Denver and Oakland and allowed go-ahead touchdowns. They were rescued by Eddy Piñeiro’s 53-yard field goal in the final second. No such rescue in London.

Fully half of the eight touchdowns scored by Bears opponents in 2019 have come in fourth quarters. (The Bears themselves have not scored a single TD in any fourth quarter this season, but that’s a separate discussion.) By contrast, last season the defense did not allow a fourth-quarter touchdown in any of the final five regular-season games.

The temptation is to look only at the numbers, which are in fact positive. Even with the 24 points the Raiders scored against them in London, the Bears ranked second only to New England in scoring stinginess (13.8 ppg.) and fifth in yardage allowed (312 ypg.).

But the Bears have 17 sacks as a team; only three of those have come in fourth quarters.

Opposing quarterbacks have passed at an 81.3 rating in first halves; they are throwing at a 91.4 clip in second halves.

The defense has allowed 16 first downs in first quarters; 21 in seconds; 20 in thirds.

In 2019 fourth quarters, 34 first downs allowed.

Pulling the camera back for a wider view, extending back to include the disturbing 2018 playoff loss:

Vs. Philadelphia
Eagles drive 60 yards in 12 plays and nearly 4 minutes to score game-winning TD with :56 remaining. Cody Parkey’s double-doink overshadows fact that Bears defense forces Eagles into only two third downs and allows winning score on a fourth down.

Vs. Green Bay
With the Chicago offense sputtering all game and in need of a short field, Packers go on a 10-play, 73-yard drive that consumed 6:33 to set up a field goal to go up 10-3 deep in the fourth quarter.

At Denver
Inept Broncos offense scores 11 points in the fourth quarter to overcome a 13-3 Bears lead, driving 62 yards in 12 plays, converting two fourth downs and a two-point conversion. Denver’s second-half drives: 41 yards, 56 yards, 84 yards, 62 yards.

Vs. Washington
Bears build 28-0 lead before one of NFL’s worst offenses scores a pair of largely meaningless second-half TD’s.

Vs. Minnesota Vikings
Drive 92 yards in 13 plays for TD before Bears stiffen to stop two-point PAT and next Minnesota possession.

Vs. Oakland (London)
Raiders win game with 92-yard drive that includes fourth-down conversion on punt fake run despite Bears leaving No. 1 defensive unit in, anticipating fake.

Guess which highly-paid NFL kicker is only making 58% of his field goals?

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USA Today

Guess which highly-paid NFL kicker is only making 58% of his field goals?

Remember that time when the Bears tried out like 47 kickers and put them through a wide variety of arbitrary tests all while fan favorite Robby Gould was using the team's desperation as leverage to become the NFL's highest-paid kicker? Classic! 

It's been like three months since those totally-sane summer days, and reader, things have not gone so hot for Gould: 

Meanwhile, Eddy P is not only 8/9 on the season, but is already well on his way to becomming a fan favorite. We're already calling him Eddy P! After 5 games! 

That said, we won't truly know if the Bears made the right decision until Piñeiro beats out several Hall of Famers -- including someone credited for literally starting the NFL -- on the path to winning an offseason bracket-style fan vote.