Tice: We just have to keep working


Tice: We just have to keep working

Friday, Sept. 30, 2011
Posted: 11:00 p.m.

By John Mullin and Jake Flannigan

Work ethic up front

Injuries could be used as an excuse for the inconsistency of the Bears offensive line this season. The line that faced off with the Green Bay Packers was missing two of its five starters.

Lack of experience together would be an alibi too. Roberto Garza, Frank Omiyale, Chris Spencer and Chris Williams, four of the five starters vs. Green Bay, all have a minimum of three years on an NFL roster. But that group, plus left tackle JMarcus Webb had never started a game together and was the third different starting offensive line in three games.

But offensive line coach Mike Tice has decided to forgo the blame game and stick to what he knows best.

Were not in here having barbecues and stuff like that at night, Tice said. We just have to keep working. Its a long haul and we got to get better.
Under scrutiny

No group has been more closely watched than the offensive line, with ample reason. They collectively have Jay Cutlers health and Matt Fortes rushing production in their hands.

After giving up five sacks to the Atlanta Falcons, the line allowed zero in the first half at New Orleans even without Lance Louis (ankle injury). The Saints got one sack (a huge one on a missed block by tight end Kellen Davis) in the third quarter after Gabe Carimi went down with a knee injury.

Without both Carimi and Louis against Green Bay, the first half again was sack-free on 17 drop-backs against a defense that had sacked Cutler 11 times in 10 quarters last season.

Tice genuinely believes his changes have been improving. But he also knows the teams overall lack of success has made it tough for outsiders to look past sacks, pressures and a run game that has averaged just three yards per carry and has zero TD runs through three games.

The 0-3 Kansas City Chiefs are the only other NFL team without a rushing touchdown this season.

There are some guys that are playing pretty good, Tice said. They kind of get lost in the sauce a little bit because of losses, and because of the non-rhythmic look we have sometimes.

Mr. Fix-It

The relationship between Tice and offensive coordinator Mike Martz may be a mysterious one for those not in blue and orange on Sundays. For Tice its simple.

Stay out of the way and focus on letting the line know what went right and what didnt.

During the course of a game you dont really want to get too much communication with the coordinator, Tice said. We talk after every series. You really dont want to mess with the guy thats trying to call the plays and get into a rhythm. Thats not a good thing to do.

Instead, Tice tries to stay off of the headphones and find ways to improve his group by looking over Polaroids of the previous series.

Normally thats what the job of an offensive line coach is, Tice said. Hes kind of a fix-it guy during the course of a game.

Duly noted

Besides Joe Theisman, Jim Mora and Willie McGinest, the fourth member of the analysts on NFL Networks No Huddle Show Friday was former Rams wide receiver Torry Holt, not Marcellus Wiley as mentioned in yesterdays roundup.

Much of the Mike Martz approach to offense is geared toward passing yardage for the quarterback. Cutler has passed for 300 yards six times as a Bear; the Bears have lost four of those six games, including last Sundays to Green Bay. The Denver Broncos were 5-5 in 300-yard Cutler passing games.

John "Moon" Mullin is'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.

Analytics: Mitch Trubisky had 5th-lowest grade on offense in Bears' win over Broncos

Analytics: Mitch Trubisky had 5th-lowest grade on offense in Bears' win over Broncos

Super Bowl contenders are usually made up of a blend of top-tier quarterback play and a consistent, if not great, defense. The Chicago Bears have half of that equation going for them in 2019. 

The defense, led by Khalil Mack, has allowed just 24 points over two games, including Week 1's 10-point performance against Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers. Normally, defensive performances like the Bears' would result in a 2-0 record. But with the offense led by Mitch Trubisky struggling so mightily, they're lucky to be sitting at 1-1.

Chicago won Week 2's nail-biter against the Broncos thanks in large part, once again, to Mack and the defense. Add a last-second field goal by Eddy Pineiro, and the special teams unit is doing their part too. Trubisky, on the other hand, remains a work in progress.

In fact, Trubisky was the Bears' fifth-lowest graded player on offense, per Pro Football Focus. His 53.1 grade ranked ahead of only Mike Davis, Tarik Cohen, James Daniels and Trey Burton.

Davis and Burton played a combined 41 snaps, so an argument can be made Trubisky was actually one of the three worst starters on the offensive side of the ball. It's never a good thing for the starting quarterback to score that poorly.

You don't have to be an analytics-truther to conclude Trubisky wasn't at his best Sunday. He completed just 59% of his passes, totaled just 120 yards and failed to throw a touchdown for the second-straight week. He was inaccurate at times and again struggled with his composure and pocket presence.

He did save his best for last, however. His 25-yard strike to Allen Robinson with time expiring in the fourth quarter set up Pineiro's game-winning field goal and may have been the confidence-building moment he needed to turn the corner this season. 

Through two games, Trubisky has a putrid 48.9 grade from PFF, which ranks second-worst on the team.

After a night of questionable calls, the Bears are still looking for clarity on roughing calls

USA Today

After a night of questionable calls, the Bears are still looking for clarity on roughing calls

One of the more under-appreciated aspects of winning an NFL football game is that the conversation that follows typically doesn’t involve the refs. But when you lose a heartbreaker in part because, say, Bradley Chubb was flagged for roughing the passer on a pretty clean-looking hit – that’s when you get reactions like this, from Broncos defensive end Derek Wolfe: 

“What I want to know is where did the second come from?,” he said.  “The commissioner needs to review that. That’s our win. Time is gone. They ran out of time.” 

There’s no denying that the Bears benefited from the Chubb miss, which the NFL tepidly defended by calling it ‘a judgement call.’ There’s also no denying that they had their own share of trouble with bad calls – most notably on this QB pressure from Eddie Goldman: 

And this hit courtesy of Leondard Floyd: 

After the game, both seemed at a loss regarding how to avoid those types of calls in the future; Floyd never even got clarification. 

“They haven’t explained it yet,” he said. “I didn’t realize it would be a penalty. That’s my bad.” 

“Sometimes those [calls] can get into that subjectiveness there of how it is, and when they're landing on guys, they're looking for that little extra oomph,” Matt Nagy said on Monday. “So, it's not an easy job by any means for them to see that. I know it's something that they're going to be looking at because it is difficult when you're a D-lineman, or whoever you are, tackling him.” 

Through two games, it hasn’t been the number of penalties they’ve had, but the yardage they’ve lost that’s hurt them the most.  The Bears have been flagged 17 this season – tied for 4th-most in football – though 11 NFL teams already have at least 17, so that’s not as bad as it sounds. What is a bit more concerning, though, is how only two teams (Minnesota, Cleveland) have had more yards taken away through flags than the Bears (176). 

“That’s football, man,” Akiem Hicks said. “You’re going to get good calls, you’re going to get those calls, you’re going to do whatever you have to do to come out on the right side. You can’t let that stuff slow you down.” 

So then how, as a diving 300-pound lineman, do you manage to avoid showing that ‘extra oomph’ when literal physics are working against you? Is there some secret solution? 

“Yeah,” deadpanned Eddie Goldman, “not [landing] on him.” 

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