Holt hire shows Tice still in charge

The Bears yesterday hired Tim Holt as the team's new offensive line coach. Holt has little NFL experience, which makes sense, as Mike Tice will still have final say on Chicago's front five.

The Chicago Bears yesterday announced the hiring of Tim Holt as the team's new offensive line coach. Holt replaces Mike Tice, who was elevated to offensive coordinator in mid-January after running the club's front five the past two seasons.

Holt does not have much NFL coaching experience. He's been a football coach for 17 years but only three of those have been in the pros. He spent 14 seasons coaching collegiately, working with running backs and offensive linemen at Southern Connecticut State (1995-1996), Lehigh (1997-1998), Cornell (1999-2000), American International (2001-2003), back to Southern Connecticut State (2005-2007) and Stonehill College (2008).

He then decided to make the jump to the NFL, working as an intern with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2009. The team like what Holt brought to the table and signed him on as a full-time coach, working mainly with the offensive line. Last season, he was the assistant offensive line coach.

"He went to Tampa as an intern and did such a good job that they let him come back for training camp," coach Lovie Smith said on the team's official Web site. "They then kept him around for the entire season. He was sleeping on couches down there just to work. He spent three years down there working his way up, doing it the right way."

To review: the Bears hired a coach who worked mainly with Division II schools for 14 years, has just three years experience in the NFL and has never been an offensive line coach before.

Not a sparkling resume, to say the least.

Yet this move makes a lot of sense when you step back and look at how the Bears are currently constructed. Tice has been molding the offensive line for two years now. He's not just going to hand over control to the new guy. He'll be hands-on in the group's development going forward. The team has made no effort to disguise that fact.

As such, there was no chance the organization was going to be able to sign an established offensive line coach with a rich pedigree. No experienced coach would want to be Tice's puppet. And when you consider this is a must-win season for Smith, one in which the entire staff will likely get the axe if they fail, it makes it even harder to lure a veteran coach into the fold.

So the Bears went an alternate route and signed a young, hungry coach that is looking to make his mark in the NFL. Holt gets the title of offensive line coach and experience working with a premiere NFL franchise. At the same time, Tice gets his handpicked coach, one that, considering his lack of experience, will cede to the offensive coordinator on all matters.

In essence, Holt is nothing more than a willing puppet for Tice. He'll surely bring something to the table, whether it be through motivation or technique development, but Tice will have final say on all offensive line matters.

At surface level, this seems like a head-scratching move by the Bears, but when you break it down, this hire makes a lot of sense.

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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.

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