Second half huge for Bears offensive coordinator Dowell Loggains, too
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In a twist this season, Bears offensive coordinator Dowell Loggains has started each of his weekly news conferences with an opening statement. That’s a practice usually reserved for the head coach.
It gives Loggains an opportunity to set a tone, get a few points across or at least make sure issues he thinks are most important get addressed. Kudos to Loggains for acknowledging mental errors, mistakes and failures as much as emphasizing the positive aspects of each game. (‘‘We obviously have a lot of question marks with our roster at wide receiver,’’ he said last week. ‘‘Trying to get those guys on the same page.’’)
Whatever the reason, it gives Loggains a head-coach look that might or might not become a reality someday. And while Loggains has a lot of people rooting for him to reach that goal, it’s first things first right now. He still has to prove he’s an offensive coordinator you can win with.
More to the point, Loggains has to prove he’s the right guy to develop Mitch Trubisky as the Bears’ franchise quarterback. The Eagles and Rams have taken quantum leaps since hiring quarterback-centric head coaches to develop their franchise quarterbacks (Doug Pederson with Carson Wentz on the Eagles and Sean McVay with Jared Goff on the Rams).
It would hardly be an upset if Bears general manager Ryan Pace went that same route. A GM bold enough to trade three draft picks to get Trubisky when he could have settled for Deshaun Watson is capable of anything. But with John Fox more likely than not to return in 2018, the big question (besides defensive coordinator Vic Fangio’s status) is just how much Fox and Pace believe in Loggains.
So far, Loggains’ inexperience has shown as much or more than any promise. The Bears are 29th in the NFL in total offense and 27th in yards per play. They are sixth in rushing and 10th in rushing yards per carry, but they are 32nd and last in passing yards and 28th in yards per attempt. The Bears are 23rd in the league in third-down conversion percentage and 27th in points, even with three defensive touchdowns.
The Bears have had some well-conceived plays — the touchdown pass to wide-open tight end Adam Shaheen against the Steelers and the 70-yard pass play to running back Tarik Cohen — but their most memorable plays on offense in the first half were gadget plays: Cohen’s touchdown pass to Zach Miller and the nifty two-point conversion against the Vikings.
No doubt Loggains has had one hand tied behind his back with this offense. The Bears’ decision to anoint Mike Glennon as the starter backfired. And their dearth of NFL-proven wide receivers is well-documented.
But the second half isn’t only like a new season for Trubisky; it’s a chance for Loggains to prove himself, too. Whether Dontrelle Inman and Markus Wheaton can provide a boost to the receiving corps or not, Loggains has enough to work with to prove he’s the right man for the job. He has a veteran offensive line, one of the best running backs in the NFL and the No. 2 overall pick in the draft running the show.
The Bears’ offense should be noticeably better in the second half. Will Trubisky have a significantly better completion percentage? Will Cohen regain his impact in the running game after the league caught on to him? Will Shaheen show signs of becoming the big-play threat he was drafted to be? Will anyone get open?
All that will reflect on Loggains. In this offense, that’s a challenge, but it’s also a great opportunity.
Follow me on Twitter @MarkPotash.