Mike Tice Speaks About His Vision for the Bears Offense..................
Tice all about putting players in position to succeed
Bears offensive coordinator vows changes to fit strengths of personnel
By Brad Biggs, Chicago Tribune reporter 7:59 p.m. CST, January 25, 2012
MOBILE, Ala. — It has been three weeks since Mike Tice was promoted to offensive coordinator and nearly every day since he has exchanged information with Jay Cutler.
The Bears' new play-caller has hit the ground running in a role new to him even though he briefly was a candidate to become the head coach of the Raiders before the team canceled a Tuesday interview with him and hired Broncos defensive coordinator Dennis Allen.
"I hoped to go through the process," Tice said. "But the timeline just didn't work out."
While Tice may mask some disappointment, he's not hiding any enthusiasm about his opportunity to take over the Bears offense from Mike Martz.
"The biggest strength we have is a quarterback who can make all the throws," Tice said. "We text, we talk on the phone, almost daily. Extensive texting. He's asking a lot of questions and I'm giving him straight up answers. He either likes the answers or he says, 'Oh, OK,' which means he doesn't like some of the answers.
"Right now, we have a great understanding of what our philosophy is going to be. And, all of the stuff that we are going to do, he has done. So that is a good thing."
The new offense isn't going to feature some staples of the Martz attack that caused problems the last two seasons. But Tice isn't going to change the terminology so there should be a relatively seamless transition. That's one reason why he was an easy choice for coach Lovie Smith.
"I am tailoring what I am doing to what I've done, which is common sense," Tice said. "Why run it when they have one more guy than you can block? Why not throw it when you have free access and you have a guy who can beat single coverage?
"… To do that you have to have the ability to check at the line of scrimmage, you have to have the ability to have a short passing game. And then I'm a no-huddle guy and we don't have no huddle. … I want to be able to go no huddle and change the rhythm offensively."
Tice said you might scoff at him, but he believes the experience of the last two seasons, especially missing first-round draft pick Gabe Carimi for nearly all of 2011 and former first-rounder Chris Williams for half of the year created depth on the line.
An evaluation of that unit always begins at left tackle. Where is he with J'Marcus Webb, who will be remembered for a poor Week 17 showing at Minnesota?
"Here is what I saw with him: Second-year player playing one side one year and one side another," Tice said. "I thought he was adequate. His consistency grade was actually solid. What grade was bad was the critical errors, the sacks, penalties.
"… Well, if you're not always in the deep drops, if you're making sure the guy gets chip help from a back or a tight end and if you change the release point of the quarterback, you're going to make him better already without making him better.
"And then you have an entire offseason (with) a chance to make him better there. He is a very good run blocker. Do I think he is a guy moving forward? Yes, I do unless some miracle happens and an elite first-round draft pick that we couldn't pass up fell in our lap, which I doubt. Yeah, he's our guy moving forward."
Tice reiterated the team's stance that Carimi will remain at right tackle and praised the strength of the running game with Matt Forte. He believes the Bears can make better use of their current wide receivers by getting the ball in their hands quicker, but also sees a possibility for additions, decisions the new general manager and Smith will make.
"If I had a question asked of me, 'What do we need?' I would say we're going to run what I learned from (Joe Gibbs with the Redskins and did with Denny Green with the Vikings) and did myself when I was the (Vikings) head coach.
"If you're going to take advantage of the box count and you're going to get the ball to that guy with single coverage, you need a guy who is going to get open more than 90 percent of the time. We don't have a guy who has stepped up, in my opinion, and shown us that ability. We either have to develop one who is in the building or we have to bring one in via the draft or free agency.
"There are three ways right there and the fourth is to put them in better positions to succeed. We're going to do that."
Like Smith, Tice praised the athletic ability of tight end Kellen Davis, who is an unrestricted free agent, and said he's happy with the group that includes Matt Speath, Kyle Adams and Andre Smith.
First, Smith needs to complete his staff with a passing game coordinator/quarterbacks coach and an offensive line coach. Progress could come starting next week. Then, the team undoubtedly will make some decisions after the general manager arrives.
After that, it's about putting the vision in place.