Yesterday at the NFL combine a few head coaches met the media and hit on a number of topics. Included in the parade of coaches was Chicago Bears' head honcho John Fox and Miami Dolphins' Adam Gase. Gase, you may recall, was the offensive coordinator of the Bears last year, and the reason I'm mentioning him here, is he was asked a question about his predecessor on the 2016 Bears. I'll touch on Gase's thoughts on Bears' current O.C. Dowell Loggains after we spotlight what John Fox had to say when he met the media.
John Fox was asked about last year's #1 draft pick Kevin White, who sat out his entire rookie season.
"He was a guy that we didn't get a chance to look at much except early in the offseason a year ago. He's rehabbed, been cleared medically. He's a guy I think that's got good size, quickness, explosion, big hands. I think yards after catch can be a positive. But at the end of the day he has to go prove that. it's going to take some time. we've got time, and he's healthy."
Bears general manager Ryan Pace says that White will be a full participant for the offseason program.
White wasn't the only Bears WR that was hurt last year, Alshon Jeffery missed 7 games last year, and Fox was asked about Jeffery's health and his contract status.
"Like anybody's career, you take it in pieces. Typically the pieces people break it down to is usually annually. I think he's had good production over his career. I don't think it's fair just to take one segment of it and try to define him by that, whether that's good or bad, regardless of what player I'm talking about. But we've seen enough of him, albeit that we'd like to have seen him more, but that's part of football and we're willing to take that risk. When he's been healthy we've liked his production and what he brings to our team."
Jeffery has been working out with Jay Glazer, who is a friend of Fox's, so he was naturally asked if that was his idea.
"I don't have input on that, these guys get to do ... they're pretty much in a dead time now, and they to do pretty much what they want during this dead time. And for that matter, even when our offseason conditioning starts, I think it's voluntary the way it's set up. You'd like guys to be at your facility. We'll cross that bridge when we see it. but I think what they've done there in LA is kinda a new concept, a little more of the mental training as well as the physical. Things I've heard have been real positive from both sides, from both Alshon and the people there at Jay's gym."
Fox was asked about his now former running back Matt Forte, and about the two guys that are tasked with manning the position this year, Jeremy Langford and Ka'Deem Carey.
"Meeting with Matt, I don't think Matt's football is over. I think that's part of the reason we were pretty early and honest with him about moving forward. I think it helps him and I think Matt Forte will play more football. We wanted to give him that opportunity."
And on them parting ways...
"Obviously we felt good. What allowed us to make that decision, albeit a very difficult decision, was the confidence we had in our younger RBs. I think any time a guy with Matt Forte's reputation, what he's been through with the organization, such a great, great pro, was for us in just the one year we had him and has been for a long time, it's never, never an easy decision. But at the end of the day, I think it was best for him - the timing - and best for us."
If he has an idea for the workload from Langford and Carey,
"We made decisions last week that we were able to make because we have great confidence in our young backs. What that workload is or what that definition of their role is will be up to them and how they perform and how they prepare and what they put on the field when we start work."
And some specifics on what Fox likes about Carey.
"The way he carries his pads. We're here (at the combine) and sometimes a lot gets put into height, weight, speed, 40, and a lot of times it's hard to measure what's behind that left nipple and between your ears. I think he's a guy that after contact is pretty special. Something that sticks out for me, I enjoy watching him run, even looking at some cut-ups recently, there were a few of those, a couple in St. Louis that I recall."
Last offseason, tight end Martellus Bennett stayed away in hopes of getting a re-worked contract, so Fox was asked about Bennett's status this year.
"Martellus is under contract, and right now a lot of our priority and emphasis is first of all being here at the combine for our first look, and particularly for our coaches at the college draft class, which is imperative for any organization. And then free agency. We're two weeks out from that and those decisions. The guys that are under contract, any decisions made on them moving forward will be very fluid. But the reality is that's on the back burner and we'll get more into that when it's appropriate."
But is he worried Bennett will no-show the voluntary offseason stuff again...
"I worry about everything but everything changes year to year. We've wiped the slate, everybody is 0-0 and that's kind of how I look at molding our football team as well. New process, it's a new challenge and we'll see what happens moving forward. Right now they're off."
Fox on the NFC North,
"I think, you know, we were last. We were 6-10. That's reality. I think we were competitive. I don't think there were too many off-kilter games. We did a lot. We were one of the older rosters in the league and became one of the youngest in one season. I think we're in good position with nine picks. We've got way better cap room this year than last, not that that means we're going to go crazy. But we're in better financial position that way. And again, this is about evaluating and decision-making, and we need to do very well this offseason."
Fox was asked his thoughts on promoting Dowell Loggains to take over as offensive coordinator.
"He's a heck of a young coach, he's got a great background, he's worked with people philosophically that I share ideas with offensively. I thought he did a tremendous job with Jay, that was a big reason for Jay's you know, kind of success this year, albeit it was an improvement. He's a sharp, young coach. We've done this before. I know his abilities, he's got great people skills. I think he's done it, he's been a coordinator before, he's done the scouting part and it's hard to be a good coach if you can't be a good evaluator, You have to evaluate your team, who you keep. I just like his background and I think he's a bright, young coach."
And on how Loggains has performed so far in his new role...
"I've liked what I've seen. We've been in a lot of meetings. Obviously when you're not in the playoffs you have a lot more time to do that stuff, unfortunately. We've completed our staff,we've got everyone together, we have some new pieces and he's very organized, very structured and I just like the way it's going."
Fox was asked about his new wide receivers coach, Curtis Johnson.
"He's an outstanding grass coach. He's a guy I'm very familiar with because of time competing against New Orleans when I was at Carolina in the NFC South. I think he's one of the better receiver coaches out there. And Mike Groh had an opportunity to grow in his career, moving to St. Louis. Curtis was available and I think we did very well in getting him."
And about what makes Johnson so good in developing players...
"Again, I think he has great relationships. You just look at the players. He's had a lot of great players at the position. I'm not going to go through all the names but really this game is about relationships. I don't care if it's players to players or players to coaches or coaches-coaches, but he's gotten great production out of his group. And I anticipate that moving forward."
Fox was asked how he feels going into year two with Jay Cutler as opposed to last offseason's feeling out process.
"A lot better. Again, back to the relationship thing. I think you file things and you put it back there but you always like to figure it out on your own. And he was probably one of the brightest spots, I think, about our first year in Chicago and getting to know our players, which we know a lot better now than we did at this time a year ago. So I saw way more about his mental toughness. I saw way more about how he can absorb an offense and execute it under pressure. I think that speaks volumes for how successful he was on third downs, which is a tough down for a quarterback in the NFL. But I was very, very pleased with what I saw and what we have to work with going forward."
It wasn't all offensive questions for the defensive minded Fox, he was asked to share some thoughts about his defense.
"Team speed. Explosion. I think those characteristics help make those plays. So I think it's just still getting the right kind of guys there and the right kind of guys to represent our city and our organization. But with a highlight on some athleticism and explosion, which I think will help to make plays."
John Fox transcript courtesy of Chicago beat pool via John Mullin.
And finally, Dolphins' H.C. Adam Gase was asked his thoughts on Loggains taking over as O.C. with the Bears, and how he'll work with Cutler.
"It's a great dynamic, I know that. I always loved going around those two guys and kind of seeing the banter between them. When they hit the field, there's something special there between those two guys and the way they work together and the way they communicate, it'll be a great situation for Jay, that offense is in great hands, I mean that whole coaching staff is top notch. I enjoyed working with all those guys, but those two guys together, they'll be able to keep that system going, they'll be able to keep that continuity going."
Gase was also asked about any advise John Fox gave him.
"The thing that I saw him do last year was a great experience for us, just for the fact that we had to move to a different team. It was year one of that situation, just seeing him move around the building, the impact he made in every department across the building, and then once the players got in the building the impact that he had on them, that was something that I witnessed, I saw a culture change. Just to see him do that, that's priceless just for my development and being able to come to Miami and do the best I can to touch each department and make sure that those guys feel that I'm a part of the entire building."
Adam Gase transcript courtesy of Lindsay Jones, USA TODAY Sports.