Bears offensive coordinator Dowell Loggains spoke to the media Wednesday for the first time since last Sunday's loss to the Packers. Here are four things we learned:
(1) Loggains is confident that rookie quarterback Mitchell Trubisky will take fewer sacks once he gains more experience. Trubisky was sacked five times by Green Bay.
"He's just got to keep playing," Loggains said. "Look at Aaron Rodgers and Alex Smith; those guys took a lot of sacks early in their career. [Trubisky] has a knack for not turning the ball over and he's doing a good job with that. That's a huge plus. The next part of his game that will grow as he plays more is he'll start to take less and less sacks because he'll start to understand where checkdowns are. A lot of young guys do this and he's learning a great lesson while taking care of the football."
Loggains believes that Trubisky, who has started only five NFL games, is holding onto the ball too long in some cases because he's trying to make something out of nothing. Loggains pointed to one play against the Packers in particular where Trubisky should have thrown the ball quicker to avoid a sack.
"I don't think he's too tentative," Loggains said. "I think what he's trying to do is extend plays with his legs. The one that bothers us the most as a coaching staff is we have a Cardinal rule is that when we call boots and nakeds, you don't take a sack on those plays. He was a little bit tentative getting out of it because of his footwork going there. He probably had [Joshua] Bellamy early and once he got to the edge, he needs to throw that ball away."
See photos from practice during week 11 at Halas Hall as the Bears prepare to face the Lions on Sunday, November 19.
(2) The Bears opted to utilize Bellamy in the game plan over Tre McBride III because Bellamy provided a speed element to stretch the field. McBride had posted career highs in the previous game with three catches for 92 yards in a loss to the Saints.
"Sometimes statistically when you say he played the best game of his career, that may not match with what the coaches see on tape when balls aren't going your way or how you're getting separation versus man coverage or other things," Loggains said. "We thought Bellamy gave us an element of speed that we needed that week. He's always been a good blocker. Part of that thought process was we needed to stretch the field and he's probably our fastest receiver. He came up big on the long touchdown pass. That was really why we did it."
Bellamy caught two passes for 57 yards against the Packers, including a 46-yard touchdown from Trubisky that drew the Bears to within 16-13 early in the fourth quarter.
(3) Running back Tarik Cohen played only 13 snaps because of what the Packers defense was doing schematically coupled with his lack of experience with pass protection and pass routes.
"We look at matchups," Loggains said. "We might not feel great about Tarik in protection versus Clay Matthews. Or there may be a certain blitz they run. This game is about matchups for us as well as them and that is the first thing we look at when we decide who is going to be in the game. Sometimes the defense dictates who is going to be out there."
The Bears were in third-and-long situations throughout Sunday's game and they're more comfortable with veteran running back Benny Cunningham picking up blitzes than Cohen.
"He has two things that he has to continue to work on," Loggains said. "No. 1 is pass pro; understanding the looks and doing all those things in third down and two minute, and still some of the details at receiver. Each week it's a different route, whether it be a post one week and a guy that's never done that. It's not easy to do, especially when you're playing teams that play press coverage. Now they're doubling you. Understanding when we run option routes and choice routes with him where his leverages are, where he should break.
"So that's the biggest challenge for him and for us going forward where eventually at some point he will grow more into the third-down and two-minute roles as he continues to progress. Right now he's playing more receiver. We have to do a really good job of finding ways for him because there is only one ball and if you're giving [Jordan] Howard carries, it's hard to get Tarik carries. So he's a game-plan player for us; we use him in specific ways and we're going to continue to do that."
(4) Loggains wasn't using Zach Miller's absence as an excuse but felt that the Bears wouldn't have drawn as many penalties as they did in the first half had the injured tight end been on the field.
"There's no explanation other than guys need to do their jobs and we need to execute better," Loggains said. "But you do see when Zach is gone, the calming effect on illegal formations, things like that. When you're playing with guys like Zach, Zach's going to stop the play.
"Mitchell's not at the point in his career where he can do that. He will get there. The three-step that we threw to Bellamy where guys weren't set and moving, that's where the veteran players would normally [say], 'Stop, wait.' Now they go in motion. They have an understanding of getting set, getting lined up with urgency and allowing Mitchell more time, and then going in motion."