John Fox has a football philosophy: Run the ball with a solid committee of backs, throw the ball to keep the opposition honest, and play great defense. This is the philosophy that took the 2003 Panthers to a Super Bowl. This is the philosophy Fox brought to the Denver Broncos in 2011. This is the philosophy that the 2015 Broncos followed to a Super Bowl championship with players brought in by Fox (do you think John Elway has mailed out Fox’s Super Bowl ring yet?). This is the same philosophy that Fox brought to the Bears last year, along with offensive coordinator Adam Gase.
Under the Fox / Gase system, Jay Cutler had arguably his best year as an NFL quarterback. From 2014 to 2015 we saw Cutler improve in passer rating (88.6/92.3), QBR (quarterback rating) (52.8/60.7 ), fumbles (9/6), and interceptions (18/11). The 11 interceptions is the lowest Cutler has had in his career when playing more than 10 games in a season and the passer rating was the highest he has ever had, period! The flip side of this bright and shiny Bears coin is that during the same time-frame Cutler also saw a decrease in completions (370 to 311), pass attempts (561 to 483 ), completion % (66 to 64.4), passing yards (3,812 to 3,659 ), and passing touchdowns (28 to 21).
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What does this all mean? It means that Fox stuck to his philosophy and Gase managed Cutler by minimizing his weaknesses. If we get the Cutler from last year, with a better (healthy) receiving core, a more cohesive running back committee, and a much improved defense, we have a chance to win a good amount of games this season. The one small hiccup in this grand plan, Gase is now chillin’ on Miami Beach, sippin’ on a mojito and polishing his shiny engraved head-coaching whistle. So the question comes, who will be managing Cutler this year?
Enter, Dowell Loggains, “International Man of Mystery” (queue Austin Power’s theme song now!). Who is Dowell Loggains and should Bears fans be happy about him? I’m sure most Bears fans know that Loggains was the quarterbacks coach under Gase last year and was promoted from that position to Bears offensive coordinator during the off-season. Prior to becoming a Bear, Loggains was the QB coach for the Cleveland Browns. His task at Cleveland in 2014 was to coach Brian Hoyer as a starter and groom rookie QB Johnny Manziel to be the franchise QB of the future. Neither of those tasks really turned out great. The Browns went 7-9 that year with Brian Hoyer throwing for 12 touchdowns and 13 interceptions. As for Johnny Manziel, well he’s Johnny Manziel. I’m not going to blame Dowell Loggains for any of the failings at Cleveland. It’s the Browns! The Browns have been the definition of a dysfunctional organization for years, and one QB coach isn’t going to be able to do a whole lot to change that. Especially not with a career back-up and a rookie head-case as your only two options at quarterback.
So where was Loggains before that? What has he done as an offensive coordinator? I’m glad you asked. In 2012, Loggains started the year as the QB coach for the Tennessee Titans and was promoted to interim OC mid-season. The QBs for the Titans that year were Jake Locker (11 starts) and Matt Hasselbeck (5 starts). Between the two QB’s they had 17 TD’s with 16 INT’s and the team went 6-10 on the year. Again, that’s not great but not a whole lot to work with, and Loggains was thrown into the fire midseason.
In 2013 Loggains was the OC for the Titans for the entire season, with a QB stable that included Jake Locker and new arrival Ryan Fitzpatrick. Unfortunately, neither the QBs nor the team fared much better than the previous year. Ryan Fitzpatrick (9 starts) and Jake Locker (7 starts) combined for 22 TD’s with 16 INT’s, and the team went 7-9 on the year. The bump in touchdowns is a positive, but could also be attributed to the presence of Fitzpatrick.
I want to pause for a moment here to recognize the reality of the Dowell Loggains struggle. His QB’s since 2012 include Jake Locker, an aged Matt Hasselbeck, Ryan Fitzpatrick, Brian Hoyer, and Johnny Manziel. I’m surprised he didn’t switch professions and become one of those doctors who has to perform colonoscopies and prostate exams. It would have been a less stressful work environment, that’s for sure. (Side note to the New York Jets: Ryan Fitzpatrick is still better than all the QBs you currently have on your roster, so you should probably re-sign him.
So, what conclusions can we have? Loggains resume’ is not impressive as a QB coach or an offensive coordinator. However, he has been in terrible situations with faltering organizations and very average talent at best. What could any OC or QB coach do in that situation? The Ryan Pace/ John Fox regime recognized that one of the biggest problems for Cutler in his career as a Chicago Bear has been the constant turnover in the offensive system and the offensive coordinator. They had no control over Gase’s departure to Miami, and the only way to maintain any level of consistency for Cutler was to promote from within. It is an intelligent, logical, and reasonable decision. But Dowell Loggains as an OC remains a complete mystery, as does how he will impact the play of Jay Cutler this year. Chicago Bears Nation, I present to you Dowell Loggains, “International Man of Mystery.” Yeaaahh Babyyyyyyyy!!!! At least, we hope.