The Bears offense and the man who is currently running it has become a topic of great consternation. Particularly amongst Bears fans. Last season it was he doesn’t run enough. This in spite of facing 8-9 man fronts on a consistent basis. This season the same talk surfaced, but somehow two weeks ago against the Ravens he ran too much. The logic behind that was Trubisky needs to develop and can’t unless he passes the ball.
This logic in spite of a weakened Ravens defensive front that lost run stuffing Nose Tackle Brandon Williams and a defense that has many exotic looks that confuse veteran Quarterbacks yet alone a rookie who has minimal college games under his belt forget in the NFL. To add to the ridiculousness of that logic the Bears were also on the road and facing a head coach who at that point was 11-0 when facing a rookie Quarterback. Let’s also not forget that the game plan actually worked. They compiled a lot of yardage on the ground, they kept the ball and if not for two awful special teams return touchdowns would have left Baltimore with a blowout win.
Then there’s this past Sunday’s contest at Soldier Field versus the Carolina Panthers where Trubisky dropped back just 14 times and had just 7 pass attempts and 4 completions. This in spite of an anemic offensive performance that was run heavy without the production from the run game. However, they did win by 14 points, so the conservative approach apparently was the way to go. However, fans do not want to hear this. They want points on the board that can provide satisfactory support for their now developing dominant defense.
Good points, but my question would be why throw more when you don’t have to? Why put the ball in harm’s way and risk screwing up something the defense had worked so hard to get. A win to put your team on the map in the postseason race with a weakened division with the loss of Aaron Rodgers, and the schedule softening up with a bunch of very winnable games. Having Trubisky throw passes against a desperate defense and risking a turnover is not going to help develop your rookie signal caller. His being out there is developing him. It all helps. As in his decision-making process. Trubisky himself admitted he was being consciously conservative so he didn’t put the Bears in a bad position with a big lead and the defense playing so well. Here’s a quote from his press conference.
“We had more pass plays called,” Trubisky said. “I was just pulling them down, being conservative and taking sacks. I was just trying to play smart, protect the football and get out of here with a win. We just have to get better in the pass game and that falls on me. I’ll be on the receivers and tight ends this week to continue to perfect our timing and routes. However, it mostly falls on me, so I just have to get better.”
This is development. Fans and talk show hosts and maybe a handful of media members are concerned this will affect his mindset as a passer. Make him timid going forward but that is malarky. There is no way this kid will be bashful or lack confidence in his ability to throw dimes to his receivers. Add to this that the Bears have inexperienced receivers who are unproven low draft picks and UDFA’s. So why chuck it up when you have a 2 Touchdown lead unless you absolutely have to. As a matter of fact two time Former NFL General Manager and football analyst Michael Lombardi remarked the Bears did well to limit the offense in that game and complimented Loggains on his restraint to throw by not putting his ego ahead of the team goal. Sometimes less is more. Make no mistake. The Bears will eventually have to and when that time comes they will. I suspect it could be as early as this coming week against the Saints in New Orleans.
All this makes it seem absurd for anyone to even contemplate attempting to make a case for the Bears much maligned Offensive Coordinator Dowell Loggains. However, this is exactly what I’m going to try to do.
It’s fairly clear that there is a lot of biased opinion by fans who are fully invested in the regime bashing under Head coach John Fox and anyone that he endorses. This in spite of hiring top assistants year after year throughout his career including the much coveted Adam Gase who Bear fans still seem to think is the God of offensive football. There are local media and talk show hosts who are guilty of this as well.
The lack of confidence in Loggains seems to be the majority opinion of many talk show hosts and the vast majority of Bears fans. So is this justified? Is he the right man going forward to develop Bears prized Quarterback Mitch Trubisky? That has yet to be answered, but I am inclined to believe he is more than he is not. Watching the tape and the way he’s called both his regular season games and the preseason he absolutely has put the kid in the best position to succeed. That is unquestionable to anyone who has even a novice level ability to review film. Trubisky himself has missed some plays out there. Typical of a rookie but even more so with one who had only 13 career starts in college and stepping up to a much larger stage.
The Bears by everyone’s evaluation have a roster filled with unproven Wide Receiver talent. So Loggains has to consider that factor when drawing up his weekly scripts to battle that weeks defensive opponent. He does a really good job with scheme in getting guys open and leaving his Quarterbacks with lots of options.
On this play from last weeks Ravens game, the Bears are on their own 36-yard line. Here Trubisky has a plethora of options available to him and missed his intended target which ended up being the best one as Gentry wound up getting free up the right sideline. Trubisky simply overthrew him missing a huge play and possible touchdown. But in this scheme Loggains forces some quick decisions to be made by the Ravens and they were completely unprepared for it.
Bears start out in 12 personnel (1 RB/2TE). Here Loggains lines up both Tight Ends shoulder to shoulder to the right of the formation. Ravens counter with a standard defense with two man over the top and press man under.
Ravens front 7 bites hard on the play fake to Tarik Cohen.
On this still, you see the play design gives Trubisky many options. as you can see Bellamy is wide open, Cohen breaks into the open on a swing route to the left, and Gentry is about to be open along the right sideline. However, my favorite part is the way Loggains put both Tight Ends together looking like blockers going with the flow of the play fake than they split apart forcing a Linebacker to choose who to cover which leaves Sims open. Trubisky did make the right choice just made a poor throw and overshot Gentry and out of bounds which would have been a big play.
for some reason, the Cornerback squats at the Bears 45 even though he does not have the help over the top so somewhere there was a communication breakdown. Unfortunately, The Bears didn’t take advantage of it.
Loggains creativity also shows up in the Beas run game. Here, the Bears start out in 22 personnel (2RB/2TE) also referred to as Tank formation. Here the Ravens are probably thinking Power “O” where the back follows the Full Back through the C gap who blocks the edge defender while the two TE’s double the Defensive End (or 5 technique in a 30 front) while the Right Guard pulls to the play side through the C gap to block the Linebacker as the backs lead blocker. You can see that’s exactly what the Ravens were defending obviously resourcing what they’ve already seen in the game &/or in film study preparing for the Bears and seem set to stop it with 10 men in the Box area near the line of scrimmage.
However, Loggains puts a wrinkle in here. Even using elements of the counter trey where Howard’s first movement pre-snap has him turn his shoulders and hips to the direction of the strong side where the Bears are selling the run will go. Even Michael Burton begins by heading in the direction of the strong side like he’s about to execute the Full Back’s block in the power “O”. You can see the defense is flowing towards the strong side totally sold on the power “O”.
after the initial movement towards the strong side Burton turns left and heads towards the edge defender to block him and Howard turns towards the A gap. The offensive line takes advantage of the momentum of the defensive flow to push the Ravens front to the right side of the formation making a huge hole for Howard to run through while Burton executes the seal block on the edge defender.
The end result, an easy 11 yard run for a first down with Howard dragging 2 defenders for an extra 3-5 yards. Pretty impressive against a 10 man front which probably has no chance without the play design by Loggains. Plays like these are generally ignored by his detractors while they hammer on the ones that go wrong with hindsight analysis.
Another staple of Loggains offense is the emphasis on misdirection. Now that he has a more athletic Quarterback he can use these with Boots and waggles. On this play, the Bears line up in 21 personnel (2RB/1TE). Pre-snap Tight End Dion Sims motions from right to left and settles to the left of the Tackle.
Just as it did with the run play I focused on, on this play, the positioning of the Fullback suggests there may be a run to that side of the field and completely influences the Edge Linebacker to the left of the formation on the ball fake. After the play action to Howard, Burton turns to block the edge linebacker while the entire offensive line blocks to the right side to sell the play action with the misdirection.
After the play action fake Trubisky rolls out to the Left and Burton blocks the Edge Defender than tosses him to the side and runs left in a quick out pattern into the flat. As you can see from the area I circled in the still, half of the Ravens defense is on the right side of the field and away from the area of the intended pass. You can also see that Burton has nothing but open field to run into.
Burton makes the grab and gets 8 yards out of this play even showing athleticism hurdling a defender trying to cut his legs out from under him. Even the pattern by Wright was clever as he loops all the way to the left side of the field from the right side and lays a devastating pancake block on the Edge Defender in pursuit of Burton. The key to this play is selling the run to the right as well as Trubisky’s ability to move well and sell the play fake.
Another example of Loggain’s offensive creative prowess is his ability to use route combinations and picks to free up weapons and give multiple targets for his Quarterback to chose from. Here’s a good example of it although there are no picks. Bears are in what essentially is 10 personnel (1RB/0TE) with trips formation to the left of the formation. The only difference is they’re using two Tight Ends which would be 12 personnel (1 RB/2TE) acting out the roles of what would normally be wide receivers. Another example of Loggains using what he has to the best of their abilities.
On this play the design actually gave Glennon up to 4 options that came open. He chose Miller which ended up being double covered because Deonte Thompson wound up tripping and stumbled to the ground which allowed his man to help on Miller.
Before Thompson stumbled he was running a Corner, Fly or Post pattern to clear out the safety and give Miller some open space to operate with. Maybe even score? My best guess is Corner Route to pull the safety even further away from Miller with his head turned to stay with Thompson. Miller runs a Seam route, Sims runs a Dig, Josh Bellamy runs a deep Dig and Howard comes out of the backfield running a quick out. All but for Thompson were open and available to Glennon during his progression sequence. The routes are timed well by the group so that each route would open at the time Glennon was supposed to be on their route in his read progression showing good coaching.
And Glennon apparently doesn’t see Thompson fell and the Defensive Back responsible for him has gravitated towards Miller the target he just so happened to have chosen. Fortunately, Miller secures the high throw for a big 17 yard gain and a first on 3rd and 16.
See, he’s not so bad, is he? Certainly not the incompetent idiot some seem to think he is. There are many plays I could have used that shows creative play design and matchup exploitation ability in his game day play calling not just these. I tried to go with recency to help with the reader’s recall. Will Loggains be the right guy to develop Trubisky long term? I believe he will be. Of course predicting the future is not possible, but there are plenty of guys I respect who like what Loggains does offensively like Matt Miller of Bleacher Report, former Bears long snapper Patrick Mannelly, Jon Gruden, Adam Gase who everyone thinks is an offensive God around here, Mike Martz, Brian Billick Among others. There was a report last season by Chris Mortensen and Adam Schefter of ESPN that said Loggains was getting a lot of league-wide compliments. Two very plugged in guys I may add. Here’s the paragraph I’m referring too I got from respected Bears blogger Lester A. Wiltfong Jr.’s website windycitygridiron.com.
“It’s not often a 3-11 team gets some respect, but there have been a fair amount of compliments about Bears offensive coordinator Dowell Loggains.” This coming from Mortensen’s and Schefter’s inside sources. “That’s because Loggains has overseen an offense in which backup quarterbacks Matt Barkley and Hoyer have performed surprisingly well during Cutler’s absences. The Bears didn’t let significant offensive line injuries get in the way of rookie Jordan Howard eclipsing the 1,000-yard mark.”
Is he without fault or blame? Of course not. No one is going to be 100 percent perfect. However, Loggains is a pretty good coaching prospect. He’s very young (37) and a student of the game as is evidenced by his use of Les Steckel’s goal-line option play he used to get the Bears game tying 2 point conversion against the Vikings late. A play he kept in mind 17 years after seeing it. He has been mentored by some very good offensive mind’s in his young career and shows the scheme flexibility to stay away from rigid schemes that can be exploited by a good defensive coordinator or head coach. He’ll use his personnel in roles some wouldn’t even consider as in the trips formation example I used in my stills where he uses Miller and Sims as wide receivers.
Look, time will ultimately tell if Loggains has a successful NFL career as an offensive coordinator or go back to being a career positional coach. There’s no guarantee he’s even here after the season as most people are convinced John Fox is a goner unless he somehow miraculously transform’s this team into a playoff team. I am not of that mindset, but the possibility exists. However, when watching the all-22 Loggains exhibits all the traits that show the makings of a very good offensive coordinator and possibly even a future head coach if he shows he can manage a team as the top branch on the coaching tree. He has the ability to adjust, to use odd personnel groupings to his advantage, has good concepts, shows the ability to make in-game adjustments and has had pretty good production from as nondescript a roster as any offensive coordinator has had to deal with the past two seasons. Now he has his big chance to show the world by getting the most out of his young Quarterback Protege.