The Chicago Bears have officially named Mike Tice offensive coordinator, in place of recently departed Mike Martz. Tice has served as the team's offensive line coach since 2010.
This is not much of a surprise, as Tice was considered the frontrunner for the job. Tice has never served as offensive coordinator during his 16-year tenure as a coach in the NFL.
Tice started his career as an assistant a tight ends coach with the Minnesota Vikings in 1996. He was named offensive line coach the following year and took over as head coach of the organization from 2002-2005. He then served as offensive line coach for the Jacksonville Jaguars for four years before coming to Chicago in 2010.
The Bears will reportedly hire a quarterbacks coach, replacing recently departed Shane Day, to help gameplan the passing attack. The club will also hire a new O-line coach, although Tice will still be hands on with the front five. Darryl Drake remains wide receivers coach. Tim Spencer remains running backs coach. Mike DeBord remains Tight ends coach.
Coach Lovie Smith, who has complete control over his staff, is the one who made the decision to promote Tice.
"I'm excited to have Mike move into our offensive coordinator role," said Smith. "He has been a valuable member of our staff over the past two years and has an excellent track record in the NFL. He was very impressive in his job interview yesterday and shares the same vision I have for our offense moving forward. We want to be a strong running team with a big-play pass attack. Mike will call plays for us and continue to have an active role with our offensive line. To complete our staff we will be hiring a passing coordinator who will work with our quarterbacks and an offensive line coach."
It's a smart move, as it allows the offense to move on from Martz without a complete overhaul. In his time in Minnesota, Tice preferred a downfield passing attack and power run game similar to Martz's system. QB Jay Cutler, who moves on to his third offensive coordinator in just four seasons in Chicago, won't be forced to learn a brand new system.
"Lovie and I share a similar mindset of what the Bears offense should look and feel like," Tice said. "There will be a toughness about us. We are going to be a powerful run team and we're going to be able to mix in explosive pass plays. It will be important for us to utilize the talents of our players and exploit match-ups each Sunday. We have athletes we can build with. I feel fortunate Lovie has placed the trust in me to help move us forward to a championship."
There is some concern about Tice's lack of experience as an offensive coordinator. Yet while he never held the title with the Vikings, he did serve as the team's play caller for a stretch, so he has the necessary experience. The Bears rushed for more than 2,000 yards last year for only the second time in the past 20 years. Expect Tice to continue to lean heavily on the run.
For RB Matt Forte, this has to be good news. With a new GM and run-oriented coordinator, the odds he'll get the long-term deal he's been seeking just got considerably better.
And for those that have been clamoring for increased emphasis of the personnel along the offensive line, you likely just got your wish. Tice will surely lead the charge for more talent up front, which is obviously music to Cutler's ears.
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Jeremy Stoltz is Publisher of Bear Report magazine and BearReport.com and a member of the Pro Football Writers of America. To read him every day, visit BearReport.com and become a Chicago Bears insider.