From Here on the Season Rests on Lovie Making a Change Offensively....
Bearsí offensive discoordination falls on Mike Tice
BY NEIL HAYES Twitter: @bynhayes November 20, 2012 12:06PM
http://www.suntimes.com/csp/cms/site...YPE=image/jpeg Chicago Bears quarterback Jay Cutler (6) talks with offensive coordinator Mike Tice on the sidelines in the first half of an NFL football game against the Detroit Lions in Chicago, Monday, Oct. 22, 2012. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)
Updated: November 20, 2012 12:08PM
Mike Tice is Yogi the Bear with a whistle. In Lovie Smithís world, where nothing meaningful is ever said, he brings much needed levity. He tells it like it is, which means he would be the first to tell you he has been as overmatched as the Bears offensive coordinator as Gabe Carimi and JíMarcus Webb have appeared at their respective tackle positions.
The only thing Tice has done since being promoted to offensive coordinator is make Mike Martz look more competent by comparison. After 10 games, his offense has failed to establish an identity. What do the Bears do well offensively besides throw the ball to Brandon Marshall? When Marshall is taken away Tice has no answer.
They have one of the leagueís best one-two punches at running back but they donít run enough. Using Matt Forte out of the backfield was a matchup nightmare for opposing teams before Tice scrapped the practice. There are glaring holes at tight end and along the offensive line, but this unit has too much talent to be ranked 30th in total offense.
In fact, about the only offensive category in which the Bears rank among the league leaders is sacks allowed, which can also be blamed on Tice since heís the person most responsible the glaring weakness that is the offensive line.
At least Martz had a plan. You may not have agreed with it but you knew what he wanted to do and why he wanted to do it. It made sense. Monday nightís 32-7 thumping at the hands of the 49ers was the latest glaring example of Ticeís inability to devise a successful game plan.
He canít call a game, either. Thereís a gift to calling plays that puts players in position to succeed. Tice clearly doesnít have it, which is why Lovie Smith should give play-calling duties to quarterbacks coach Jeremy Bates while Tice focuses on shoring up a line that appeared to be playing on ice Monday night.
The one thing everyone felt confident Tice could do is coach the offensive line but now even that should be called into question. There is much to be upset about is your last name is McCaskey. At the top of the list is all the money the family has paid to coaches and general managers who keep insisting JíMarcus Webb is the answer at left tackle.
First it was Jerry Angelo, now Phil Emery. Tice has been Webbís greatest advocate from the beginning and has remained in his corner when it became obvious that he cannot play left tackle at this level.
He was also the person most responsible for drafting Gabe Carimi, who has assured the Bears have two tackles that can be tossed around like chew toys. The sad truth is, the Bears offense was better with Martz calling the shots and without Marshall than it is with Tice and perhaps the best receiver to don a Bears uniform.
Jason Campbell should have given the Bears had a distinct advantage against the 49ers. The backup quarterback had started 71 NFL games compared to zero for 49ers reserve Colin Kaepernick. 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh offset the experience gap with an imaginative game plan and brilliant play calling.
Knowing the Bears would expect the run, he called play-action passes to start the game. His confidence in Kaepernick was obvious for all to see and the kid responded by delivering passes to open receivers all over the field against an overwhelmed Bears defense.
Ticeís game plan, meanwhile, may as well have been chiseled on a stone tablet. His quarterback had more experience but was shackled by predictable play calling: Run, run, pass, punt.
In case youíre wondering, thatís why the 49ers have a rich legacy at the quarterback position while the Bears feature an endless conga line of forgettable names. Cutler could soon be added to the list. To have a quarterback with Cutlerís ability for four years and to have an offense that still comes completely undone against quality opponents is almost shameful. The defense has masked the fact that the Bears havenít even been able to consistently move the ball against inferior opponents while Tice has been calling the shots this season.
Most frustrating is the fact that until Monday night the defense has played at such a high level that the offense doesnít have to be prolific for the team to be successful. All Ticeís unit needs to do is find a way to score 17 points and the Bears are going to be dangerous down the stretch. Theyíve scored a total of 13 points against playoff teams the past two weeks, which is why itís time for changes at Halas Hall.
Any hope the Bears have of making a deep playoff run is dependent on the offense coming together and under Tice it keeps falling apart.