After ranking 24th in the NFL in total yards and struggling mightily following quarterback Jay Cutler’s season-ending injury in 2011, the Bears revamped their offense during a busy offseason.
Line coach Mike Tice was promoted to coordinator, and first-year general manager Phil Emery bolstered the unit by acquiring receivers Brandon Marshall, Alshon Jeffrey, Eric Weems and Devin Thomas; running back Michael Bush; and quarterback Jason Campbell.
“I think when you look across the board at our skill positions, we have improved quite a bit and that should put points on the board, which we are trying to do,” said coach Lovie Smith. “We talk a lot about the skill and receivers, but I just think we are in position to have the best balance that we have had offensively in a long time.”
The Bears have a lot of faith in Tice, who played 14 NFL seasons as a tight end with the Seahawks, Redskins and Vikings and has coached in the league since 1996.
“I just know what we want to look like with our Bear offense and I feel good about what Mike Tice and the rest of the offensive staff will bring this year,” Smith said. “I think this year, as you watch us play and how we play offensive football, this is more the look that we all kind of envision us being.”
As an offensive line coach with the Vikings, Tice helped five players earn 10 Pro Bowl nominations. In 1998, Minnesota scored an NFL-record 556 points and started three linemen in the Pro Bowl.
During Tice’s tenure as head coach, the Vikings established an NFL record for most consecutive games with over 300 yards of offense with 36 from 2002-04.
Minnesota led the NFL in rushing for the first time in franchise history in 2002 and topped the league in total offense for the first time in 2003. In 2004, the Vikings set club records with 6,339 total yards and 4,754 passing yards and scored 50 touchdowns, the fourth most in franchise history.
“His place in the NFL as a coach and his quality of coaching is something he’s already proven,” said general manager Phil Emery. “Am I excited about what he’s done with the Chicago Bears? You bet.
“I think that the players feel good. You want players to be able to turn it loose and play, and that’s what I see in Mike. He’s s technician. He expects perfection. But he’s also a good coach in that he can keep the scheme simple for the player so that they can go out and execute it and play to their fullest ability. I feel very good about Mike in his role.”
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