‘Top-turnbuckle stuff’: A history of the Bears’ 2-point trick play
— Ƒunhouse (@BackAftaThis) October 10, 2017
Dowell Loggains tapped out a text after his Bears wowed a national television audience with a razzle-dazzle two-point conversion in Monday’s loss.
“Coach,” the Bears offensive coordinator wrote to Les Steckel, “‘Donut’ worked.”
Loggains first scribbled the
“Donut” play down in 2000. A freshman at Arkansas who knew he wanted to coach, Loggains taped NFL games and jotted down plays he liked in the notebook he’d been keeping since he was 15.
On Christmas Eve that year, the Buccaneers ran the play for a successful conversion against the Packers. It was nearly identical to the one the Bears deployed Monday: In a shotgun formation, Bucs quarterback Shaun King handed off left to running back Warrick Dunn, who then handed it to Mike Alstott on a reverse. Alstott ran
option to the right with King, pitching to the quarterback as he was hit.
King walked into the end zone, just as Mitch Trubisky did Monday after he handed off to Jordan Howard, who gave it to tight end Zach Miller, a former college quarterback who ran option plays at Omaha.
Miller pitched it to the rookie quarterback just as he was popped in the jaw by Vikings linebacker Anthony Barr.
“Like riding a bike,” said Miller, whose chin was still sore Wednesday. “That’s why I switched from quarterback to tight end, because the option was my best pass.”
Trubisky smiled when Loggains called in the directive. The Bears had it as one of their three potential conversion options Monday.
“Those are the kind of plays you do get excited for,” Trubisky said.
Loggains remembered the play a generation after he first wrote it in his notebook when, by chance in 2013, he had Easter brunch in Nashville with his boss Mike Munchak and the Titans head coach’s next-door neighbor, Steckel, and their families.
Steckel was the Buccaneers’
offensive coordinator in 2000.
Loggains told him over brunch how he’d loved the play. Steckel said it was called “Donut,” and that he’d installed it in the late ’90s when he ran the Titans offense.
Loggains renamed his version of the play “Heisman” in honor of the Titans’ best player from that era, Heisman Trophy-winning running back Eddie George. That’s why Miller struck the iconic Heisman pose when the play worked.
“No one’s run it since 2000,” Loggains said. “But coach Steckel is the one that had the concept.”
Loggains had wanted to call it for a while, dating to his time running the Titans offense from 2012-13. The key, he said, was to have a mobile quarterback and a tight end who was comfortable handling the ball.
The Bears didn’t have one of both until Monday.
“For him to put that together, everything has to be executed perfectly,” Miller said. “There’s a lot of transitions passing the ball off here and there.”
The play is undefeated in practice. When they first ran it in OTAs, defensive coordinator Vic Fangio gave Loggains the Italian salute, an obscene arm gesture, in retaliation.
“Every time I’ve put the play in, every coaching staff says, ‘This is a high maneuver,’ ” Loggains said. “This is top-turnbuckle stuff.”
It’s fun when it works. Friends of Bears coaches in the high school and college ranks have raved about the play all week, saying they wanted to adopt a version of it for themselves.
“That was one where there was no defensive answer for it,” Ravens coach John Harbaugh said. “That was one that wasn’t going to be defended if it was executed well. They get all the credit in the world for that. . . .
“Never seen that one before. That was a first. That was really good.”
Except, it had been done — once.
Which is why Loggains smiled when Steckel responded to his text with one of his own.
“I saw it,” Steckel wrote. “It was awesome.”
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