After a pair of defeats at home to a pair of bad teams from Seattle and Washington leading into the bye week, Tice got to Smith and Smith got to Mike Martz, convincing the offensive coordinator that the Bears were dead in the water without a more realistic game plan.
It might never have happened without those 2 losses, but what followed was a lot more balance offensively and a chance for the offensive line to do more than get trampled by the pass rush.
It's a balance you saw the entire second half until the second half of the last game, and you know how that went.
And if you're thinking that the beating Cutler suffered against the Packers suggests the line is still below average, you'd be right, and that only furthers the point.
Tice made something out of nothing this season, and it allowed the team to win seven of its last nine, starting the same five men on the line in those final nine games.
It began in the middle of the Dallas game when Chris Williams limped off the field with a hamstring injury and his replacement, Kevin Shaffer, immediately took a false start and allowed Cutler to get hit very hard twice.
In the middle of it all, with Cutler getting popped eight times in the first quarter, Tice calmly flipped Shaffer to right tackle and right tackle Frank Omiyale to left, which saved Cutler from a worse beating for at least a few more weeks.
When Williams returned, Tice found a way to get something useful out of him by moving Williams to left guard.
Make no mistake because Williams is merely serviceable and Omiyale is one of the worst left tackles in the league, but both are playing better where they are now than where they began the season.
Center Olin Kreutz isn't what he was once was, but he's getting the job done and somehow keeps this group organized most of the time.
The most notable difference in the line came when left guard Roberto Garza returned from injury after the bye week. His move to right guard in place of Edwin Williams helped the entire line, especially in relation to right tackle.
That's where J'Marcus Webb has been since Game 5, replacing the turnstile that was Shaffer at right tackle.
The 6-foot-8 Webb has a long way to go, but for a seventh-round draft choice and rookie NFL tackle thrown into the middle of that mess, he has done a decent job.
Tice, by the way, is the reason the Bears looked at Webb late in the draft, having worked out Webb and been impressed enough with his raw talent and massive size to encourage the Bears to take a shot with him.
So he worked him into Games 3 and 4 and then moved him in permanently in Game 5, and that combination of Webb, Garza, Kreutz, Williams and Omiyale is an 80 percent makeover from Game 1 and your starting offensive line today.
It's still not good. Let's not have any illusions about it. But it's a whole lot better than the line that began the season.
And if the Bears don't win the Super Bowl, it will almost certainly be the reason that it doesn't happen.
But when you consider that their blocking tight end, Brandon Manumaleuna, can't block, their pass-catching tight end, Greg Olsen, can barely block — and doesn't catch all that much anymore — and that the team doesn't use a fullback, Tice has done just about all he could do with this collection of stuff.
One can imagine that he would rather the team have spent money on an offensive lineman than the $15 million ($6.1 guaranteed) the Bears handed Manumaleuna.
In any case, Tice has created stability where there was none, and his influence on both the line and the offense has been immense.
Without him and without all he has done, there's no way the Bears would be 11-5, in the postseason and dreaming of a trip to Dallas.
Just no way at all.