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Tice working to get offense back on track

Posted by Larry Mayer on September 19, 2012 – 6:04 pm

According to Bears offensive coordinator Mike Tice, the two fastest increments of time in the history of the universe are “the time it takes a New York cab driver to beep his horn when the light turns green and the time it takes to go from the penthouse to the outhouse in the NFL.”

Tice experienced the first situation while growing up in Long Island and the second last Thursday night when the Bears followed an impressive win over the Colts with a deflating loss to the Packers.

“That wasn’t what we wanted to be last week,” Tice said after the offense mustered just 168 total yards and 11 first downs while committing four turnovers and yielding seven sacks.

“Fortunately or unfortunately, we’ve had a week to correct. The first thing I have to do is correct me, so I’ve worked diligently to see where I can be better to help our players to get better, and now we move on to St. Louis and see if we can get back on track.”

Asked to identify the most important area to improve, Tice said: “We need to block, block, block people. We can’t do anything unless we block people.

“You go into a game and you believe you have a good plan. You tweak the plan in the course of the game and you try to put players in position to succeed. Not always can a guy have help, so when those occasions arise, when a player doesn’t get the help, he’s got to win.

“We don’t expect our players to grade out 100 percent. I’ve coached some great linemen. I’ve coached a guy (Randall McDaniel) who’s in the Hall of Fame. He never graded 100 percent, so we don’t expect that. But we expect better results than we had.”

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Tice giving players chance to succeed

Posted by Larry Mayer on September 5, 2012 – 6:25 pm

Mike Tice is employing a common-sense approach in his first season as Bears offensive coordinator: Find favorable match-ups and exploit them.

“We have one goal, and our goal is to put or players in a position to succeed and minimize the amount of times we put our players in position to fail,” said Tice, who is entering his 17th season as an NFL coach after playing 14 years in the league with the Seahawks, Redskins and Vikings.

“If the match-ups are not in our favor-and there’s going to be many times during the season when the match-ups aren’t in some of our guys’ favor-we need to make sure that that person has help where we don’t put that person in that position, and then we have to make plays and be explosive.

“That’s really what it comes down to. It’s us putting the players in a position to go out and have confidence to know that they can go out and win the individual battles. If we win more than we lose at the end of the day, if we have great ball security we’re going to be OK.”

Working with Tice for the first time this season, Bears receiver Brandon Marshall said the best thing about the offensive coordinator is “his ability to communicate with each individual.”

“Everyone’s different and sometimes you have to approach guys differently, and he has a real talent for really teaching and communicating,” Marshall said. “It makes it easier for all of us to come to work and really understand our role and try to get it done.”

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Tice happy where line is headed

Posted by Larry Mayer on September 5, 2012 – 5:52 pm

Mike Tice is pleased with how the offensive line performed in the preseason and hopes that the unit will continue to make strides in Sunday’s season opener against the Indianapolis Colts.

“We had some good tests,” said the Bears offensive coordinator. “We had some teams that blitzed some, and we played a couple road games, a road game in New York. I feel good where we’re going. I don’t feel good about where we’re at yet, but I feel good about where we’re going.”

Appearing in two preseason games this summer, quarterback Jay Cutler was not sacked while throwing 34 passes against the Washington Redskins and New York Giants.

“We feel good about [the line],” Cutler said Wednesday. “We were able to do a lot of stuff offensively with those guys and we were able to open up the field and get the ball downfield. [But] we’ve got to get the running game going. We’ve got to get Matt [Forte] off to a fast start and I think that is going to help things out.”

With the season opener looming, Tice is especially eager to see how right tackle Gabe Carimi progresses after missing the final 14 games of his rookie season last year with a knee injury.

“He’s going to take a while to be up to full speed,” Tice said. “I don’t believe he’s all the way back yet. The endurance in his leg is going to come with game time. We’re certainly going to be very careful of it if it appears that he’s getting tired. We have other guys-Chris [Williams]-that can go and spell him if we have to. But I’m anxious to see him play.

“I thought he came on real well at the end of the preseason. He really was run-blocking well toward the end of the preseason, and his pass protection has gotten better. So I’m excited to see how he matures as a player and how he grows. He’s a big part of what we’re trying to do and what we’re trying to be.”

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Tice the latest to praise Jeffery

Posted by Larry Mayer on August 13, 2012 – 2:58 pm

Offensive coordinator Mike Tice on Monday joined a growing chorus of Bears coaches and players who have been singing the praises of rookie wide receiver Alshon Jeffery.

The second-round draft pick from South Carolina, who has been excelling in training camp, caught a game-high four passes for 35 yards in last Thursday’s preseason opener versus the Broncos.

“We were real pleased with Jeffery,” Tice said. “He made some plays for us and really dominated physically. [He] threw people around, and that was pleasing to see.”

Jeffery has made several impressive catches in practice, especially over shorter defensive backs in red zone drills. Tice is confident that the 6-3, 216-pounder will produce similar plays in the regular season.

“I believe with that young man it will translate,” Tice said. “I think we can all see that. That is a big, physical specimen. He played in the SEC against great competition. The speed of the game is not too big for him. He’s played in front of big crowds.

“He is very calm, doesn’t get overexcited, in fact to the point where I say every day, ‘You OK?’ [He responds], ‘Yes, sir.’ He’s a very polite young man. He has been raised right. He’s a great athlete. He won four [high school] state championships in basketball. You want to throw the ball up to him and let him go get it. He’s going to do that.”

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Tice eager to test young players

Posted by Larry Mayer on August 8, 2012 – 2:05 pm

All eyes no doubt will be on Jay Cutler, Brandon Marshall and the rest of the No. 1 offense Thursday night when the Bears open the preseason by hosting the Denver Broncos at Soldier Field.

But first-year offensive coordinator Mike Tice is especially interested in seeing how the team’s unproven players perform in a game situation.

“Really the big evaluation is going to happen for the young guys and for the guys that are pushing to make the active roster as opposed to the practice squad starting with the games,” Tice said.

“I want the first team to be clean when they are in there, [but] they’re only going to be in there a handful of plays. With the second-teamers, we are looking for guys who want to show us that they deserve a shot to push somebody out, so we’ll see. They’re going to get plenty of plays. We’ll see how they do and grade it like a regular-season game and go from there.”

The competition figures to be intense at wide receiver, where Eric Weems appears to be assured of making the 53-man roster along with Brandon Marshall, Devin Hester, Earl Bennett and Alshon Jeffery. That means Rashied Davis, Dane Sanzenbacher and others could be battling for a sixth spot.

“Eric Weems is a great special teams player and before he tweaked his ankle was doing a lot of really good stuff for us in the passing game,” Tice said. “After that, anything can happen.

“I think it all comes down to special teams play and how guys shine or don’t in the games on special teams and what their role is going to be. That is for coach [Lovie] Smith to make that decision, not Mike Tice. We’re just going to go out and play offense and put these guys in situations to see how they handle it.”

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Bears offense finishes with a flurry

Posted by Larry Mayer on August 6, 2012 – 8:29 pm

Jay Cutler and the rest of the Bears’ No. 1 offense ended Monday’s practice with a flourish, engineering an impressive two-minute drill that resulted in a touchdown.

Starting at his own 35-yard line with no timeouts, Cutler completed passes to Earl Bennett, Devin Hester, Matt Forte and Brandon Marshall before spiking the ball to kill the clock at the 9. After an eight-yard pass to Kyle Adams, Cutler snapped the ball and plowed into the end zone behind his offensive line for a TD.

“We’ve been trying to finish practice in that last period a little bit better,” said offensive coordinator Mike Tice. “I felt like in the first two weeks we only had one practice where we finished the last period good. It felt like the two-minute drill today, we finished practice better than we have.”

The well-executed two-minute drill came after Cutler had thrown three interceptions in a lengthy red-zone drill. He was picked off by linebackers Lance Briggs and Nick Roach and nickel back D.J. Moore.

Asked later about the Bears defense, Cutler said: “They’re good. They’re very sound. They’re well coached. They’re in the right spot all the time and they make plays on the ball. For the three years that I’ve gone against them, there’s no let-up in this crew. It makes us better and I think some of the things that we’re doing offensively challenges them a little bit as well.”

The No. 2 offense also scored a touchdown in its two-minute drill as quarterback Jason Campbell connected on passes to Armando Allen, Joe Anderson, Brittan Golden and Chris Summers.

After Craig Steltz broke up a pass intended for Evan Rodriguez near the goal line, Campbell completed a 12-yard pass to Anderson on fourth-and-five from the 17. Three plays later Campbell rifled a 5-yard touchdown pass over the middle to Allen.

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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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Tice not happy with offense’s execution

Posted by Larry Mayer on July 26, 2012 – 7:53 pm

Quarterback Jay Cutler looked sharp in 7-on-7 drills in the Bears’ first training camp practice Thursday, completing 11 of 12 passes to six different receivers.

But first-year coordinator Mike Tice wasn’t pleased with how the offense performed overall after witnessing two fumbles, a false start and two botched exchanges between the center and quarterback.

“Can’t put the ball on the ground. Cannot put the ball on the ground. And can’t jump offside,” Tice told reporters. “I know it’s the first day and we’re working a lot of things on the line of scrimmage, but we’re also coming off an offseason of a bunch of practices and a bunch of times that we did it and we did it right. We can’t come out the first day and look like we never did it before.

“We’re not going to put up with that. We’re going to have a higher bar than that. We’re going to set the ceiling a lot higher than that. So we’ve got to get that cleaned up right away. We’ve got to stay up when we’re downfield running routes. We’ve got to do things a little bit better at times. But I thought the energy was good and the focus was great.”

In 7-on-7 drills, Cutler completed three passes apiece to receiver Brandon Marshall and tight end Kellen Davis, two to receiver Devin Hester and one each to receiver Earl Bennett and running backs Matt Forte and Michael Bush. The defense, however, outplayed the offense in 11-on-11 team work.

“I think they had a better 7-on-7 than they did team,” Tice said. “I think everybody got excited in team trying to make an impression. I thought we were a little bit off in team. But it’s the first day. I know the guys after being around them for several months. They all want to do well.”

Tice singled out Hester for doing “some nice things” in the practice. Running back Kahlil Bell and rookie receiver Alshon Jeffery both fumbled. J’Marcus Webb opened practice with the starting unit at left tackle, but shared first-team reps with Chris Williams.

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Bears confident in offense, Tice

Posted by Larry Mayer on July 25, 2012 – 7:16 pm

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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