NFC North Tour: Explosive Bears?

Chicago has given its offensive personnel a drastic makeover, with the additions of Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery, among others. New offensive coordinator Mike Tice has plans to take advantage of that talent.

Personnel changes alone will give the Bears' offense a different look this season.

The addition of two veterans, No. 1 wide receiver Brandon Marshall and running back Michael Bush; and two rookies, wide receiver Alshon Jeffery and tight end Evan Rodriguez add multiple new weapons to the attack.

But there will be other differences between Mike Tice's 2012 offense and Mike Martz's 2011 offense.

"We're going to play fast, and we're going to make sure the players are able to show us their speed, explosiveness, quickness; and their toughness, if you will, up front," Tice said. "We're going to make sure they know what we're asking them to do, so they can go out and play fast. Not going on the field thinking, but going on the field and being athletes.

To compete with the Green Bay Packers in the NFC North, the offensive upgrade is badly needed. Outside of the Week 15 game last season, when the Bears scored 10 meaningless points in the final 7:30 of the fourth quarter of the Packers' 35-21 victory, Chicago hasn't scored more than 20 points against the Packers since 2007. In the last nine matchups, Chicago has averaged 14.1 points per game.

"We have some great athletes on offense," Tice added. "As coaches, we have to put them in a position to show us and the fans their athleticism and their explosiveness. We want to be explosive. We want to be able to get the ball down the field. We want to be able to run the ball explosively, and we're going to do those things."

The change in Tice's job description, from offensive line coach to offensive coordinator, won't be a big deal according to the former Vikings head coach (2001-05).

"You're talking about managing people and putting people in position to do their jobs as best they can," he said. "I've been blessed to be a head coach in the league before, so I've had to manage people. You're talking about taking a bunch of ideas from a bunch of guys (assistant coaches) who have a chance to have some input. (Then) filtering through that information and putting it together on paper and deciding what the Bears are going to look like based on the talent pool that we have. That's what we're trying to do right now."

The Bears are in the process of going through the installation of the offense for the second time. It will be done for a third time during organized team activities, which start later this month and run through early June. A fourth installation will occur during training camp.

Coach Lovie Smith says the transition to Tice has been smooth.

"It's just like he's always been there, as far as I'm concerned," Smith said. "Mike's been in the league a while. He's been doing a super job just rallying and organizing our offensive staff, getting them all on the same page. I think you'll like the look of our offense this year. Again, it helps a lot when you get more weapons, which we've done. But I'm really pleased with what the staff has done."

None of that will matter if the play of the frequently disparaged offensive line doesn't improve in pass protection. Veteran guard Chilo Rachal, a starter for the 49ers in 2009 and '10 but a backup last season could help, but the draft brought no additional reinforcements. Tice, who will continue to work closely with the line despite his promotion, is OK with that, although questions remain, especially at left tackle.

"If (general manager) Phil (Emery) and Lovie, with the help of the scouts and the staff, felt that tackle was a dire need for us," Tice said, "I'm sure they would have answered the bell on draft day."

Tice said getting Gabe Carimi and Chris Williams back would help. Carimi played just two games at right tackle before a knee injury ended his rookie season. Williams started nine games at left guard before a dislocated wrist halted his season.

"With the change in scheme, the change in personality, an offseason (unlike last year) and getting some guys healthy, I think we'll make a big jump in the offensive line," Tice said. "We have a couple young guys who have played good football in half the scheme, if you will. They need to step it up in the other half of the scheme."

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