Bears promote Tice to offensive coordinator


Bears promote Tice to offensive coordinator

The Bears wasted little time filling the vacancy at offensive coordinator, elevating Mike Tice to the spot held by Mike Martz until last Tuesday.

Tices promotion has been expected as long ago as last offseason when Martz turned down an offer of a contract extension while the Bears were giving Tice a raise and turning down a request from the Tennessee Titans to interview Tice for their offensive-coordinator post.

The expected plan is to have Tice be primarily in charge of the run game and the overall play-calling, and have an assistant responsible for the passing game. A strong candidate is expected to be wide receivers coach Darryl Drake, who shares the philosophy of a solid run game and has always placed a premium on receivers being blockers.

Tice has been increasingly involved in the Bears game planning since the off week of the 2010 season. At that point the Bears had lost consecutive games to Seattle and Washington with a pass-heavy plan by Martz.

During the break Tice was given an expanded voice in the game planning and the Bears offense swung back into a balance that was part of a 7-2 finish on the way to the playoffs.

Tice is a former head coach, having been in charge of the Minnesota Vikings during the time (2001-2005) of Randy Moss and a strong passing offense with Daunte Culpepper. He was offensive line coach with the Jacksonville Jaguars from 2006-2009 before coming to the Bears.

Ironically, Tice was Jerry Angelos preference for offensive coordinator in 2010, being hired well ahead of Martz. Tice was a college quarterback at Maryland and a tight end with the Seattle Seahawks, Washington Redskins and Minnesota Vikings.

With Leonard Floyd going on injured reserve, will the Bears have a pressing need at outside linebacker in 2018?


With Leonard Floyd going on injured reserve, will the Bears have a pressing need at outside linebacker in 2018?

The Bears placed Leonard Floyd on injured reserve Thursday morning, ending the second-year outside linebacker’s season following a knee injury suffered Sunday against the Detroit Lions. Floyd suffered an MCL and PCL injury and will have surgery in the next week, coach John Fox said, and the Bears do not have a timetable for his recovery yet. But that Floyd didn't suffer damage to his ACL is potentially good news for Floyd's recovery timetable. 

Still, with Floyd on injured reserve and out for the season, the Bears’ current outside linebacker depth chart consists of two veterans (Pernell McPhee and Sam Acho) and two practice squad signees (Isaiah Irving and Howard Jones). These final six games of the 2017 season could serve as auditions for all four players for roles on the 2018 Bears. 

If every team needs at least three good pass rushers, the Bears can count on Akiem Hicks and Floyd for 2018, provided Floyd comes back healthy. But who’s the third?

The Bears could save about $7.5 million in cap space if they release McPhee in 2018; if they were to cut ties with Willie Young, who’s on injured reserve right now as well, it would provide $4.5 million in cap relief. McPhee will be 29 in December, while Young will turn 33 next September. 

The Bears won’t necessarily need the cap relief next year, and could certainly decide to keep both players, who’ve shown they’re still productive when healthy. But even if both players are back, the Bears may need to add another outside linebacker via free agency of the draft — remember, the team could’ve began the season with Floyd, Young, McPhee, Acho and Lamarr Houston as their outside linebackers; an injury Houston suffered in the fourth preseason game ended his time in Chicago. 

Needs at wide receiver and cornerback are pressing, but outside linebacker may need to be in that same conversation. If the Bears have a top-10 pick for the fourth consecutive year, plus some cap space, they perhaps could have the ability to address all three needs in March and April. 

That may be looking a little too far into the future, though. The best-case for the Bears is McPhee finishes the season strong and Irving and/or Jones shows something in the opportunities they receive in these final six games (Jones, for what it’s worth, had five sacks as a rookie with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2015). But the worst-case — and perhaps the most realistic — is that the Bears go into the offseason needing to fill at least one pass-rushing spot. 

Under Center Podcast: Can Mitch Trubisky follow Carson Wentz’s path to stardom?


Under Center Podcast: Can Mitch Trubisky follow Carson Wentz’s path to stardom?

JJ Stankevitz and John “Moon” Mullin are joined by NBC Sports Philadelphia Eagles reporter Dave Zangaro to offer an encouraging connection between Carson Wentz’s growth and that of Mitchell Trubisky.

Check out the entire podcast here: