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Coaching Carousel 2016: Chicago Bears Offense

A detailed look at the impact of Adam Gase's departure and the promotion of Dowell Loggains to offensive coordinator. 

Enter John Fox and Adam Gase

When John Fox took over the Chicago Bears last season, the team was coming off back-to-back seasons of defensive ineptitude (30th and 31st in points allowed, 30th in yards allowed in each season) and Fox' defensive prowess was meant to turn a bad situation around quickly. Fox brought Adam Gase with him from Denver to handle the offense, which was in better shape than the defense but still had questions. Departed head coach Marc Trestman led the Bears to a 2nd place finish (points) in 2013 but the unit regressed in 2014 (23rd in points). Gase's first order of business was reinvigorating Jay Cutler's career after he fell on hard times thanks to conflict with Trestman and his staff.  

2015 Success?

Was Gase successful in improving the Bears offense? That's a matter of considerable debate:

  • 335 points scored (23rd) vs 319 points scored (23rd) in 2014
  • 5,517 yards (21st) vs 5,233 yards (21st) in 2014

On the surface, the Bears offense was almost identical to the 2014 unit. But digging a bit deeper, it's clear the offense was on sounder footing and made things easier for the defense to hold things together.

  • 21 turnovers lost vs 29 turnovers lost in '14 (+8 improvement)
  • 37.4% scoring rate vs 27.8% (+9.6%)
  • 11.2% turnover rate vs 16.1% (+4.9%)
  • 2:49 minutes average per drive vs 2:41 minutes
  • 5.94 plays per drive vs 5.67 plays
  • 30.7 yards per drive vs 29.0 yards
  • 1.88 points per drive vs 1.68 points
  • 5.9% sack rate vs 6.3%

Gase and his staff weren't miracle workers, but there were signs of more reliability, resilience and stability. Part of that success came from asking Jay Cutler to do less. Cutler attempted 483 passes in 2015 versus 561 in 2014. He cut his touchdowns down from 28 to 21, but he also reduced his interceptions from a league-worst 18 to a respectable 11. The ground game is where Gase's impact was truly felt:

  • 468 rushing attempts vs 355 in 2014 (29 carries per game vs 22)
  • 13 rushing touchdowns vs 8
  • 4.0 yards per carry vs 4.1 (no real change on this metric)

Thinking of this another way, Adam Gase opted for a more balanced attack that yielded similar year-end stats but with a much sounder foundation in terms of ball security and consistency. 

Goodbye Gase, Hello Loggains

Adam Gase was already a hot coaching commodity before last season, so it's no surprise that he was "one and done" in Chicago. He accepted the Miami Dolphins head coaching position forcing John Fox to new his second offensive coordinator in as many seasons. Fox opted for continuity, and promoted Dowell Loggains to the OC role after serving as the quarterbacks coach in 2015.

Loggains' Coaching Career

YearAgeLevelEmployerRole
2005 25 NFL Dallas Cowboys Scouting Asst.
2006 26 NFL Tennessee Titans Coaching Admin. Asst.
2007 27 NFL Tennessee Titans Coaching Admin. Asst.
2008 28 NFL Tennessee Titans Offensive Quality Control
2009 29 NFL Tennessee Titans Offensive Quality Control
2010 30 NFL Tennessee Titans Quarterbacks
2011 31 NFL Tennessee Titans Quarterbacks
2012 32 NFL Tennessee Titans Quarterbacks/Interim OC
2013 33 NFL Tennessee Titans Offensive Coordinator
2014 34 NFL Cleveland Browns Quarterbacks
2015 35 NFL Chicago Bears Quarterbacks

Now if you're like me, the name Dowell Loggains sent shivers down my spine at first blush. All I remembered about him was his association with the debacle that was the Tennessee Titans under Mike Munchak. My first instinct was to think, "Loggains is a HUGE drop off versus Gase, this is going to be a real problem." But was I being fair?

A (Surprising) Tale of the Tape

Loggains took over play-calling midway through the 2012 season, and was in full command during 2013 before Munchak and his entire staff were let go in favor of Ken Whisenhunt. How did his 2013 season compare to the Bears' 2015 campaign?

Team Points Yards Plays Yards/Play Turnovers Fumbles 1stDowns
2013 Titans 362      5,390     1,032 5.2 25 9 311
2015 Bears 335      5,517     1,024 5.4 21 9 312
  • Loggains' Titans scored more points, had virtually the same yards, plays and yards per play
  • Nearly identical turnover and 1st downs
Team PaCmp PaATT PaYds PaTD INTs
2013 Titans 328 533     3,496 22 16
2015 Bears 334 523     3,663 21 12
  • Nearly identical passing stats (Chicago a slight edge in turnover differential)
Team Rush RuYds RuTD YdsPerRush
2013 Titans 462      1,894 16 4.1
2015 Bears 468      1,854 13 4.0
  • Mirror image rushing stats
Team Penalties PentYds #Drives Scoring% Turnover%
2013 Titans 101 900 184 34.2 11.4
2015 Bears 99 909 179 37.4 11.2
  • Eerily similar penalty rates and drives
  • Scoring and turnover efficiencies virtually identical

In Loggains' first full season as an NFL play-caller, he delivered a season virtually IDENTICAL to what Gase produced with the Bears last year. That is MUCH different than the perception many of us had about the Munchak/Loggains tenure in Tennesse. 

Context Is Everything

Is Dowell Loggains' a proven commodity? Not yet, but if we're being fair he has more experience as an NFL play-caller than Gase did when he got the Broncos job three seasons ago. And while Gase's two years in Denver were a sight to behold, let's not forget that Peyton Manning essentially coordinate those offenses. What we do know is that Loggains' managed a season of equivalent production in his first full year calling plays that Gase just delivered in his third NFL season as an OC. We also know that Loggains' is keeping the same system and merely tweaking things as he sees fit; which bodes well from a continuity perspective. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. The same numbers that got Munchak/Loggains fired in 2013 landed Adam Gase and NFL head coaching job in 2015. 

Conclusion: Don't Panic!

Full disclosure -- When I set out to write this piece, I was expecting to tell you how worried I was about the drop off in coaching prowess from Adam Gase to Dowell Loggains. But an objective observation of their respective accomplishments paints a far more neutral picture. Does this mean Loggains will be a success? No. But it DOES mean that we shouldn't presume a meaningful regression from last year when the Bears had an NFL average offense.