The space between games is typically filled with all kinds of words, sometimes with sound and fury signifying nothing, but sometimes revealing and, if you are an 0-2 football team, concerning.
Offensive coordinator Dowell Loggains, two games into his gig in place of Adam Gase, has underscored the John Fox philosophy of their team being a running football team. But if that is to be the Bears’ identity, it was not apparent from Loggains.
Instead of the Bears moving toward a team that can impose its will on a defense and run its plan, Loggains indicated that the Bears’ identity depends upon what an opponent lets it be. The sense is an offense that is reacting, not acting.
“Well I think it depends on how the defense is playing you,” Loggains said in response to an offense-identity question. “Some of the stuff, they're going to play single-high, there are things that are advantageous vs. it, and Philadelphia started playing a lot more Cover-2 and clouding Alshon [Jeffery] a little bit in the second half. It really depends on what the defense is doing to you.”
Defenses can dictate what offenses can do or be. If a team is willing to sell out to stop something, it usually can. If the offense is being denied its primary route to success, then it behooves the unit and its boss to exploit whatever weakness is created within a defense gearing to stop something.
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Through two games, in which the Bears were either leading (Houston) or down by two points (Philadelphia), only five teams have run the football fewer times than the Bears (38). This after the organization invested heavy capital in a physical guard (Josh Sitton) and shuffled the offensive line to work Sitton in.
One adjustment expected Sunday vs. the Dallas Cowboys is an increased role for rookie running back Jordan Howard, who flashed in his three carries in the loss to the Eagles but saw the offense turn back to Jeremy Langford. Howard is bigger and blessed with greater power than either Langford or Ka’Deem Carey, who is out this week with a hamstring strain.
After running the football 46 percent of the time last year, even with a 6-10 record, the Bears are running on just 37 percent of their plays in 2016 in spite of presumed upgrades at left guard (Sitton), right tackle (Bobby Massie), right guard (moving Kyle Long back to his preferred spot) and center (rookie Cody Whitehair, a No. 2 pick).
“We would like to be able to run the ball when we need to,” Loggains stated. “We want to stay balanced, we want to play the games on our terms, and right now, we need to run the ball better to play the game in our terms.”
CLEVELAND — Adam Eaton feels sore everywhere and chances are slim he’d play again before he is re-evaluated on Monday when the team returns home.
But the White Sox outfielder said Saturday afternoon that he felt better than he did Friday when he was cleared for a concussion after crashing into the outfield wall making a fantastic catch.
Eaton, who left in the sixth inning of Friday’s game, said he stayed down on the ground for several minutes after he knocked the wind out of himself. Manager Robin Ventura mostly ruled Eaton out for Saturday and Sunday after his hip, shoulder and back were all involved.
“If anybody has ever been in a car accident, it’s kind of the same thing,” Eaton said. “It’s taking inventory of the body parts and making sure everything is back to where we’re supposed to be, and as soon as that is accounted for, we’ll get back out there and play again.
“It seemed like I passed (the concussion test) pretty well.”
Whereas early in his career the White Sox asked Eaton, who played as if his hair were on fire, to dial it back, Ventura appreciated the outfielder’s effort. Not only was there a possibility Eaton could get to the ball, he made a fantastic grab before slamming into the wall. Ventura applauded how much progress Eaton has made in knowing when and when not to go all out in the name of his own safety.
“He’s been a lot better,” Ventura said. “He would run after balls that were probably 10 rows deep. …
“Before he was just out there running crazy and right now he has a better understanding of what he can get to. Last night was just a great play, he runs into the wall and gets himself banged up.”
Staying on the field has made Eaton an extremely valuable asset for the White Sox. Not only is he a strong candidate to win a Rawlings Gold Glove, Eaton has a .791 OPS in 683 plate appearances. He headed into Saturday seventh among the American League position players with 6 Wins Above Replacement. And he has proven versatile with the ability to play right and center field and hit in several spots in the lineup.
“When you look what he does … he’s been pretty dang valuable,” Ventura said.
Eaton feels like part of the value he brings is his willingness to go all out for his teammates. He doesn’t intend to slow down any more than he already has. Eaton said Saturday he was a little ticked by some of the responses he received on social media after the play, feeling like he would have heard criticism if he had backed off.
“You play hard and then all of a sudden you get hurt playing hard and then people have a problem with it and then they say you should play hard,” Eaton said.
“Instead of choosing my body, I chose my team. People can curse me for it, but the day that I backpedal and let the ball hit off the wall is the day I’m going to quit baseball.”