By Chris Emma—
(CBS) The Bears weren’t going to look at anyone but Dowell Loggains as their new offensive coordinator, the same way they saw no surprise in losing Adam Gase to the Dolphins.
Nothing caught coach John Fox off guard in what has transpired the past 48 hours. He entered the 2015 season knowing quarterbacks coach Loggains was likely the Bears’ offensive coordinator in 2016. That promotion became official Monday afternoon, just two days after Gase became Miami’s new head coach.
Fox hired Gase last January after his offensive coordinator of two seasons in Denver nearly became head coach of the 49ers. A failed, flawed power play by San Francisco general manager Trent Baalke and team chairman Jed York led Gase to Chicago for a season with the Bears, but he never lost the luster as a prime coaching candidate.
In Chicago, the work of Gase and Loggains helped quarterback Jay Cutler thrive in what was his most efficient season with the Bears. Joined by a healthy complement of talent in 2016, Cutler should be even better. Continuity was created between Cutler and his offensive coaches, Gase and Loggains.
Now, Cutler will be playing under his sixth offensive coordinator in eight seasons. However, Fox says this won’t be a transition.
“Dowell played a critical role on our offense last year,” Fox said in a statement. “He’s an excellent coach with experience as a play-caller and a broad knowledge of offensive football. He has earned the respect of our players because they know he can help them get better.”
Promoting Loggains to the role of offensive coordinator made sense in several regards. For starters, the Bears will maintain their same schemes established by Gase. If anything, the offense will only look different because the offense can be more aggressive and take chances with playmakers, rather than sitting back in a conservative form and attempting to stay in the game.
Cutler won’t have to wash his brain of one system and rinse with a new one. Instead, Cutler can count on his relationship with Loggains and familiarity with schemes that have put him in position to be successful. Loggains is an excellent communicator — something lacking during the troubled tenures of Mike Martz, Mike Tice, Aaron Kromer and more — and developed a strong comfort with Cutler during their first season together.
“He’s extremely talented, bright, has a lot of energy as well,” Cutler recently said of Loggains. “He’s been around quarterbacks for a long time, played the position in high school, has been around really good coaches his entire career — he’s been blessed in that regard. He’s been a sponge.
“He’s done a really good job of managing our room, from the three (other quarterbacks) to me. He works well with the rest of the coaches in developing the plan. I think Adam would testify to it, that he’s been a large help to him and me both.”
Names like Ken Whisenhunt and Jim Bob Cooter could’ve been on Fox’s radar, but they didn’t make sense for where this particular team presently stands. Bears general manager Ryan Pace made it known that the team is building around Cutler, a quarterback with whom he holds “extreme confidence” in leading the offense forward.
The Bears never considered going any direction but forward. They never bothered to interview Whisenhunt, nor did Fox wait to see if Cooter would become available from the Lions. Loggains wasn’t considered a Plan B by any means — he was the top priority. Finding experience wasn’t nearly as important as keeping cohesiveness.
“As I mentioned at the end of the season, our systems are in place,” Fox said. “We will always look to evolve because the NFL is fluid and adapting is key to good coaching. Dowell will help us build on what we started as we head into the 2016 season.”
Fox feels as if the Bears laid the foundation for a bright future during his first season in Chicago. He left the 2015 season disappointed in a 6-10 record but optimistic for what’s to come. There was no need to tinker with that.
When the promising prospect Gase got his chance, the Bears weren’t one bit surprised. By hiring Loggains, they made the best move in keeping continuity.