Plenty of finger-pointing occurred during the first half of the Chicago Bears season, but did Dowell Loggains get too much blame?
There weren’t many people who thought the Chicago Bears would sputter out of the gate like they did and stumble to a 2-6 start. Sure, plenty of people didn’t think the Bears would be among the league’s best, but nobody (that I saw) had the Bears in competition for a top 2 or 3 pick in next year’s draft.
Plenty of blame went around. Some said that Ryan Pace gave John Fox a flawed team. Others stated that it was Fox that had been failing. Some blamed injuries, while some thought it was the quarterback position.
While there was plenty of finger-pointing, none was more prevalent than the ones that went in the direction of offensive coordinator Dowell Loggains.
It was hard to defend Loggains during the first half of the season. The Bears started off the year struggling with time of possession and couldn’t convert a third down. Those issues caused plenty of three and outs and the offense really struggled to find the end zone.
Loggains was hammered. His play calling was called unimaginative and predictable while others said he had no idea how to utilize his roster. Fans called for his head and many experts wondered if he wouldn’t make it to the end of the season.
But one thing that is hard to argue is that the Bears offense has steadily improved throughout the season. The offensive line continued to gel, the running game improved, the pass protection got remarkably better and the Bears started moving the football.
this improvement all culminated in a 20-10 victory against the Minnesota Vikings on Monday Night Football. While the Vikings may be struggling right now, that is largely due to their offense and not their defense. Minnesota’s defense is still one of the tops in the league and should have easily handled the Bears mediocre offense.
Oct 31, 2016; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Bears wide receiver Alshon Jeffery (17) makes a touchdown catch against the Minnesota Vikings during the second half at Soldier Field. Mandatory Credit: Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports
But Loggains was superb. He called his best game of the season without question. He knew every move Mike Zimmer would make before he made it. He perfectly used Jordan Howard and had blocking schemes to perfectly bottle up Minnesota’s stout defensive line. With Jay Cutler back under center the offense looked crisp and even looked competent in the red zone.
What was the difference? Did the offense respond to Cutler or was it something else? Let’s examine it further.
Cutler was hideous against the Philadelphia Eagles, no one can defend that performance, but he played fairly well week one against the Houston Texans who also boast one of the best defenses in the league.
While Cutler’s play against Philadelphia was inexcusable, was Brian Hoyer really the answer for the offense? Hoyer plays the most conservative game in the league. He constantly checks down and settles for short passes and safe plays. His offenses will rarely make a big play, but won’t often make one that put the defense on their heels. He is, in essence, the perfect backup quarterback. He can keep your offense functional but won’t elevate it either. He does just enough to keep you in the game and relies on someone else on the roster to win it for you.
With that type of quarterback running the offense, how much can an offensive coordinator do? How can he not be as conservative as his quarterback? Making Hoyer uncomfortable was only going to force him to make mistakes.
What the Vikings game showed us is that at least Loggains deserves a chance to prove himself during the second half of the season.
No team is ever perfectly healthy, but after the bye, the Bears may be the healthiest they’ve been all season, including week one. Josh Sitton and Kyle Long are back at practice this week, Marquess Wilson may be returning soon, and the Bears also have their full stable of running backs led by the rookie Howard. Sure, Kevin White is out, but with Cutler under center, this is the most complete this offensive unit has been.
After a stellar game against the Vikings, Loggains has at least earned the benefit of the doubt for the remaining eight games of the season. Perhaps the Bears last game wasn’t a fluke, it was what Loggains is capable of doing when he has his full complement or weapons. Bears fans should give Loggains a chance here in the second half of the season to see if perhaps Pace and Fox did indeed make the right choice.
If the Bears offense regresses and returns to the underperforming unit it has been, then by all means let Loggains go at the end of the season. But let’s see what Loggains can do with these players, perhaps he is the right man for the job. If he’s not, what does the team have to lose? It’s not like they are Super Bowl-bound in 2016 anyway.