Tice's task still formidable
1 reason Bears wouldn't let him leave for Titans is they need him to finish job here
INDIANAPOLIS — Jerry Angelo said timing, more than anything, prevented the Bears from allowing Mike Tice to interview for the Titans offensive coordinator position earlier this month.
No time would have been right for the organization to let someone as valued as Tice out of the final year of his contract unless you would allow a homebuilder to pour a foundation and split without completing the job.
Tice has major work to do, more than last season when the Bears were a team without draft picks. The Bears won't say as much, but the rebuilding of the front five has to be the top priority of the offseason to help an offense that was 30th in yards and 21st in scoring.
With a notebook tucked under his arm, Tice left the team hotel Thursday at the NFL scouting combine without stopping to assess the situation.
Why is there more work for him to do this time around?
Because the Bears should add two new linemen to the mix, not including center Olin Kreutz, who is expected to be re-signed. How it shakes out, no one knows, but the finished product is the responsibility of one man.
If Tice could take a seventh-round draft pick from West Texas A&M in J'Marcus Webb and mold him into a 14-game rookie starter at right tackle, the Bears have to be wondering what he can do with the 29th pick in the draft. Or a second-round pick. And a free agent.
"Ultimately, it's about the team, with players, with myself, with our coaches," Angelo said in explaining the decision to block Tice and ultimately reward him with a one-year extension. "And if something is going to hurt the team, that's not good for business."
Tice is huddling with all the top prospects. He met with Florida center Mike Pouncey on Friday and spent time with Wisconsin's Gabe Carimi and Boston College's Anthony Castonzo. What are the Bears looking at after Saturday's workouts?
"I don't think there are any real bell cows in (the draft) and of course some of the players think they are bell cows," Angelo said, surely referencing Carimi's bold statement Thursday that he's the best tackle in the draft. "I have read that. I hope they are right."
No one can say when free agency will begin. The Bears probably won't find any Pro Bowl-types when, and if, it does, but you never know and the team has done well before with street additions such as Ruben Brown, Roberto Garza and Fred Miller.
Pittsburgh's Willie Colon is an interesting possibility now that it looks like the Steelers won't bring him back. The Patriots' Matt Light, Falcons' Tyson Clabo and Broncos' Ryan Harris are other tackle possibilities. Inside, the Falcons' Harvey Dahl and Packers' Daryn Colledge should be available.
How these potential additions fit in, no one can say. The Bears were hot for an offensive tackle here three years ago when they locked onto Chris Williams, eventually selecting him with the 14th overall pick in 2008. He now has made 13 career starts at left guard, counting the playoffs, 11 at right tackle and seven at left tackle, where he was supposed to be a fixture for seasons to come. The team isn't giving up on Williams by any stretch, but he certainly doesn't have a position locked down.
"I want to make sure that when everything plays itself it out, after we get through this period of allocating players, that we get the five best players on the field," Angelo said. "Does that mean Chris is a tackle or guard? We can't determine that yet."
Much remains up in the air but the Bears are planning upgrades, and that's something that was ignored in the past.