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Write Now Blog

Listening to players important to Tice

Posted by Larry Mayer on July 31, 2012 – 8:31 pm

There’s no mistaking who’s in charge of the Bears offense, but first-year coordinator Mike Tice believes in listening to input from his players before making key decisions.

“I think it’s very important to have a line of communication with the quarterback and the running back and the wide receivers,” Tice said. “Why call things they’re not comfortable with?

“If we’re calling things they’re not comfortable with, they’re not going to make the tough throws. If we’re calling runs the running back doesn’t like, he’s not going to hit it up in there. If we’re calling routes the receiver doesn’t like to run, he’s not going to run it with any type of authority or any type of confidence.”

Quarterback Jay Cutler has enjoyed working with Tice.

“Mike probably has one of the toughest jobs on the field just being able to take everyone’s input, different ideas, and being able to dissect it and figure out what the best is for this offensive football team,” Cutler said.

“We’ve got a lot of bright minds out here, a lot of guys that have been in a lot of football games. He’s doing a great job. He’s accepting that role and really relishing it.”

To learn more about Cutler, Tice no doubt is leaning on quarterbacks coach Jeremy Bates, who helped the Vanderbilt product develop into a Pro Bowler during three seasons together with the Broncos.

“I’ve been with Jeremy before,” Cutler said. “He has a really good understanding of what I like, what I dislike. I don’t really have to say much to ‘JB’ about a certain play. It’s just kind of a look here and there.

“Mike, we’re trying to explain everything to him. I’m trying to give everything that’s on my mind, what I dislike, what I like, what I love, what I hate, what I think is going to work. That’s why he’s got a tough job. He’s got to take it all in and figure out what’s best for us offensively.”

One aspect of the offense Cutler especially likes is the freedom to audible at the line of scrimmage.

“I think it makes everyone’s jobs a little bit easier because we can put ourselves in a good play,” Cutler said. “If we’ve got something bad and the defense is going to take it over, then we can go ahead and audible and get out of it and get into something that hopefully we can execute.”

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Tice wants do-over on fourth-down play

Posted by Larry Mayer on July 31, 2012 – 8:00 pm

First-year offensive coordinator Mike Tice is already being second-guessed for his play-calling decisions, but you may be surprised where the criticism is coming from.

After backup quarterback Jason Campbell threw an incomplete pass on fourth-and-one in a two-minute drill Tuesday, it was Tice himself who publicly questioned the call.

“I should have run the quarterback sneak,” Tice told reporters. “You’re a little greedy in practice. Nothing’s really on the line. You’re just working your stuff. I should have run the quarterback sneak. I’ll get better at that and the guys will get better at their things. So if we all get better at something each day collectively, we’re going to make a big jump—and that’s what we’re looking to do.

“The first day we set the bar very high. If you’re going to achieve that, then you have to come out here every day and get better at something. And that’s all we’re asking the guys to do.”

Tice is pleased with the progress the offense is making, but he has little tolerance for mistakes like the handful of low shotgun snaps that veteran center Roberto Garza made in Tuesday’s practice.

“I thought some parts of practice were very good and I thought at the end when we had the ball on the ground with the exchanges, I thought we finished sloppy,” Tice said. “But we hung in there and kept working.

“The guys are working extremely hard. I know this: If you work hard, there’s nothing you can do but get better. The only thing you can do is get better when you’re working hard, and the guys are working hard. We’re proud of them for that, but we continually have to clean things up. That’s just the way it goes.”

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Bears a special team for Costanzo

Posted by Larry Mayer on July 31, 2012 – 2:08 pm

Seeing how much importance the Bears place on special teams brings a huge smile to Blake Costanzo’s face.

“If they didn’t, I wouldn’t have a job,” said Costanzo, a veteran special teams standout who signed with the Bears in March as a free agent. “It’s awesome to come here and for them to put an emphasis on it and value it the way they do. It allows us to go out there and do our job and have some fun doing it.”

After spending his first five NFL seasons with the Bills (2007-08), Browns (2009-10) and 49ers (2011), Costanzo is enjoying his first training camp with the Bears, especially the time in walkthroughs and practice devoted exclusively to special teams.

“It’s been awesome,” Costanzo said. “The guys that we have here are into special teams. We’re just out there getting better, trying to form our personality as a unit. It’s one-third of the game and coach [Lovie] Smith believes it could help us win some games, so we spend a lot of time on it, and that’s why they’ve had success here.”

Under the direction of coordinator Dave Toub, the Bears have ranked at or near the top of the league in special teams the past six seasons, leading the NFL in 2006 and 2007 and finishing third last year.

In 61 career games, Costanzo has registered 71 special teams tackles with four forced fumbles and four fumble recoveries. Last season the 6-1, 235-pounder ranked second on the 49ers with 17 special-teams tackles and led San Francisco with four stops in the playoffs. In the 49ers’ post-season win over the Saints, he forced a fumble on a punt return and recovered a fumble on a kickoff return.

Toub and the Bears expect Costanzo to become a leader on special teams, a role he is easing into.

“You’ve just got to know your role and get to know the guys,” Costanzo said. “When you get on the field, you just play as hard as you can and kind of prove it that way and earn your way just by playing hard in practice.”

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