Tice makes it clear: Offense will be balanced


Tice makes it clear: Offense will be balanced

New offensive coordinator Mike Tice sat down with Tom Thayer for an extended interview carried on the Bears website and it provide some good talking points, which I got into with Danny and Matt on The McNeill and Spiegel show on WSCR-AM 670 The Score.

Specifically, Tice talked about the importance and priority of having quarterback Jay Cutler comfortable not only in the pocket, but from different launch points. Hes obviously spent time with Cutler and talked about drawing from some of the things that worked when Tice was with Daunte Culpepper in Minnesota and with David Garrard in Jacksonville.

He can make all the throws, Tice said, noting that he will retain control over the protections. We have to give him the opportunity to make all of those throws.

More important perhaps, Tice made it abundantly clear that his will be a balanced offense, not based on adherence to theory but to what works. Its going to be what the defense gives us, Tice said. If there is a good count of defenders in the box, the Bears run. If its a bad count, we better be able to throw it.

That wasnt always the way with former coordinator Mike Martz, as Danny, Matt and I covered.

Martz didnt give his quarterbacks the option of audibling, so if that count changed, the play couldnt. Martz was rigidly wedded to an approach that had worked and stuck to it even when it didnt.

As I mentioned, a reason for Bears optimism with Tice is that while it could be argued that Cutler played his best football under Martz, it was equally true that he was at his best when Tices influence was strongest over the offense.

Twice over the past two seasons, Martz was reined in and Tice given greater voice in game-planning. Both times -- the 2010 off week, after game 3 in 2011 -- the Bears offense took off without resorting to runaway passing. Exactly the opposite, in fact.

Bears show interest in Tulsa pass rusher Trevis Gipson

Bears show interest in Tulsa pass rusher Trevis Gipson

It's early (extremely early) in the 2020 NFL Draft process, and the Bears' team needs between now and when their first pick (No. 43 overall) is on the clock are certain to change. The general consensus right now is that offensive line, tight end and quarterback will be early draft targets, but edge rusher can't be overlooked.

Leonard Floyd's failure to emerge as the pass rusher the Bears need to complement Khalil Mack is a bigger problem than GM Ryan Pace or coach Matt Nagy want to admit. In fact, Floyd's ineffective style of play could cost Chicago a chance at becoming a truly elite defense and potentially limit the astronomical upside Mack has as a generational talent.

If the Bears decide to pull the fifth-year option from Floyd, they'll have no choice but to attack the position early in the 2020 draft. It appears like they're doing their homework for that scenario, too.

Bears scouts met with Tulsa edge rusher Trevis Gipson at length following Wednesday's Senior Bowl practice, an indication that the position is at least high enough on their wish list that extensive homework on pass rushers is being done.

Gipson helped his draft stock at the Senior Bowl and was an early winner among edge rushers at the game. His practice reps confirmed his tape; the dude knows how to get to the quarterback. He had eight sacks in 2019 and plays with a high-energy style that's certain to entice Chicago's coaching staff. He isn't an elite athlete, but he has an appealing frame (34-inch arms) and powerful hands.

Gipson began the week as a late-Day-3 prospect. He helped his stock and may have jumped a round or two along the way.

Bears' rookie class ranked 8th-best in NFL

Bears' rookie class ranked 8th-best in NFL

The Bears didn't have much of a rookie class in 2019. Last April's draft produced just five picks, two of which didn't appear in a regular-season game for the Bears.

But the production of running back David Montgomery was enough to carry the rookie class to a top-10 ranking, according to Pro Football Focus.

The Bears checked-in at eighth.

The Bears have a strange class. They had only five picks, none before Round 3, with three of those five selections coming after Round 6. As a result, their expected return was low. Running back David Montgomery was really the only Bears' rookie to play significant snaps, and he managed to provide enough return from his third-round selection to land them at No. 8.

It's pretty remarkable that Chicago's 2019 rookie class — essentially, Montgomery — garnered this much respect from PFF. Wide receiver Riley Ridley showed signs of life late in the season and cornerback Duke Shelley will be given an opportunity to carve out a role on defense next season, but with running back Kerrith Whyte, Jr. and cornerback Stephen Denmark making no impact whatsoever (Whyte is no longer with the team), the 2019 class won't be remembered as one that laid a championship foundation in Chicago.

Sure, Montgomery has a chance to become one of the NFL's more talented starting running backs (he ended his rookie season with 889 yards and six touchdowns), but if Ridley and Shelley don't turn into legitimate contributors in 2020 or 2021, the class will go down as an epic failure for GM Ryan Pace.

Remember: The Bears didn't have a first-round pick because of the trade for outside linebacker Khalil Mack. That's a win for Pace, but it doesn't change the fact that he had five selections at his disposal and ended up with what appears to be just one impact player after their rookie seasons.