Bears

Moon: Tice, three assistant coaches extended

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Moon: Tice, three assistant coaches extended

Wednesday, Feb. 16, 2011
Posted 10:16 p.m.

By John Mullin
CSNChicago.com

The Bears denied offensive line coach Mike Tice the chance to interview for the job of offensive coordinator with the Tennessee Titans but they have assured him at least an extra year in his post with the Bears, extending his contract through the 2012 season.

The extension, announced on the teams website, is part of a wave of new deals that has included extra years for defensive backs coach Jon Hoke, who had interviewed previously for the Philadelphia Eagles job as defensive coordinator. Linebackers coach Bob Babich and running backs coach Tim Spencer also signed extensions recently, ensuring the return of nearly the entire Lovie Smith staff with the exceptions of assistants on the defensive line (Eric Washington) and special teams (Chris Tabor).

Im looking forward to continuing the progress we made on our offensive line in 2010, Tice told the team website. Our guys are motivated and I am excited to get back to work with them.

Feeling the draft

A call with ESPN draft guru Todd McShay on Wednesday yielded a number of interesting perspectives, including several that offer some encouragement to the Bears down at No. 29 in the first round. In that spot its difficult to target a player or even a position but needs in the previous 28 picks are in their favor.

McShay sees quarterbacks Blaine Gabbert from Missouri and Auburns Cam Newton as the top two that position. Because nine of the first 12 teams have degrees of need at quarterback, those two will go in the top 10.

More important, McShay has as many as nine defensive ends going in round one, as well as three cornerbacks. With Israel Idonije, Julius Peppers and Corey Wootton, the Bears are not looking to address their defensive edges.

Three cornerbacks could go in round one; the Bears are in the market for size and youth at that key spot but have not gone for a corner that high in Jerry Angelos tenure.

Add Auburn defensive tackle Nick Fairley (the Bears want DT help but Fairley will go long before their pick), Alabama running back Mark Ingram, Georgia wide receiver A.J. Green (Angelo dislikes risking first-round picks on wideouts), and you have as many as 17 players with first-round grades that teams ahead of the Bears are likely to grab.

What the Bears wont like are players such as Colorado tackle Nate Solder (McShay has him at No. 13, likely going to Detroit as Jeff Backus successor) going before they can select an offensive lineman.

But the draft is more than two months away. Stay tuned.

John "Moon" Mullin is CSNChicago.com's Bears Insider, and appears regularly on Bears Postgame Live and Chicago Tribune Live. Follow Moon on Twitter for up-to-the-minute Bears information.

SportsTalk Live Podcast: How hot is John Fox's seat?

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USA TODAY

SportsTalk Live Podcast: How hot is John Fox's seat?

Seth Gruen (Bleacher Report/”Big Ten Unfiltered” podcast), Chris Emma (670TheScore.com) and Matt Zahn (CBS 2) join Kap on the panel. If the Bears lose badly to the Lions, should Sunday be John Fox’s last game? 

Plus Bulls Insider Vincent Goodwill joins the panel to talk Bulls as well as the Niko/Portis cold war.

Listen to the full SportsTalk Live Podcast right here:

Collecting some final thoughts on if Tarik Cohen isn't getting enough snaps for the Bears

Collecting some final thoughts on if Tarik Cohen isn't getting enough snaps for the Bears

John Fox on Friday sought to clarify some comments he made earlier in the week about Tarik Cohen that seemed to follow some spurious logic. Here’s what Fox said on Wednesday when asked if he’d like to see Cohen be more involved in the offensive game plan:

“You’re looking at one game,” Fox said, referencing Cohen only playing 13 of 60 snaps against the Green Bay Packers. “Sometimes the defense dictates who gets the ball. I think from a running standpoint it was a game where we didn’t run the ball very effectively. I think we only ran it 17 times. I believe Jordan Howard, being the fifth leading rusher in the league, probably commanded most of that. I think he had 15 carries. 

“It’s a situation where we’d like to get him more touches, but it just didn’t materialize that well on that day. But I’d remind people that he’s pretty high up there in both punt returns, he’s our leading receiver with 29 catches, so it’s not like we don’t know who he is.”

There were some clear holes to poke in that line of reasoning, since the question wasn’t about Cohen’s touches, but his snap count. Cohen creates matchup problems when he’s on the field for opposing defenses, who can be caught having to double-team him (thus leaving a player uncovered, i.e. Kendall Wright) or matching up a linebacker against him (a positive for the Bears). The ball doesn’t have to be thrown Cohen’s way for his impact to be made, especially if he’s on the field at the same time as Howard. 

“They don’t know who’s getting the ball, really, and they don’t know how to defend it properly,” Howard said. “… It definitely can dictate matchups.”

There are certain scenarios in which the Bears don’t feel comfortable having Cohen on the field, like in third-and-long and two-minute drills, where Benny Cunningham’s veteran experience and pass protection skills are valued. It may be harder to create a mismatch or draw a double team with Cohen against a nickel package. It's easier to justify leaving a 5-foot-6 running back on the sidelines in those situations. 

But if the Bears need Cohen to be their best playmaker, as offensive coordinator Dowell Loggains said last month, they need to find a way for him to be on the field more than a shade over one in every five plays. As Fox explained it on Friday, though, it’s more about finding the right spots for Cohen, not allowing opposing defenses to dictate when he’s on the field. 

“We have Tarik Cohen out there, we're talking about touches, not play time, we're talking about touches so if they double or triple cover him odds are the ball is not going to him, in fact we'd probably prefer it didn’t,” Fox said. “So what I meant by dictating where the ball goes, that's more related to touches than it is play time. I just want to make sure I clarify that. So it's not so much that they dictate personnel to you. Now if it's in a nickel defense they have a certain package they run that may create a bad matchup for you, that might dictate what personnel group you have out there not just as it relates to Tarik Cohen but to your offense in general. You don't want to create a bad matchup for your own team. I hope that makes sense.”

There’s another wrinkle here, though, that should be addressed: Loggains said this week that defenses rarely stick to the tendencies they show on film when Cohen is on the field. That’s not only a problem for Cohen, but it’s a problem for Mitchell Trubisky, who hasn’t always had success against defensive looks he hasn’t seen on film before. And if the Bears are trying to minimize the curveballs Trubisky sees, not having Cohen on the field for a high volume of plays would be one way to solve that. 

This is also where the Bears’ lack of offensive weapons factors in. Darren Sproles, who Cohen will inexorably be linked to, didn’t play much as a rookie — but that was on a San Diego Chargers team that had LaDanian Tomlinson, Keenan McCardell and Antonio Gates putting up big numbers. There were other options on that team; the Bears have a productive Howard and a possibly-emerging Dontrelle Inman, but not much else. 

So as long as Cohen receives only a handful of snaps on a team with a paucity of playmakers, this will continue to be a topic of discussion. Though if you’re looking more at the future of the franchise instead of the short-term payoffs, that we’re having a discussion about a fourth-round pick not being used enough is a good thing.