Tice Finds New Life in Jacksonville

After building his NFL career as a tight end with the Seahawks and Vikings, and a position coach and head coach in Minnesota, Mike Tice has landed on his feet with the Jacksonville Jaguars as their new Assistant Head Coach/Offense under Jack Del Rio. Tice spoke with the media on June 21 during Jacksonville's minicamp about his newest team.

How do you envision your role with this football team?

"I've had a tremendous off-season working with Carl Smith and the offensive staff, talking through our system and all the things that we're attempting to be, the personality that we're trying to develop as an offense. Last year the system was put in and we were able to take that season and really look at it through a microscope to see where we could improve it. A lot of great things were done here offensively last year, especially the red zone, scoring points, and so my job is to help go through that and see where we could take it up another notch."

What is the personality you'd like to see this team have offensively?

"I think we all have decided as a staff, including Jack (Del Rio), that we'd like to be able to play aggressive offense, be able to be a little more explosive in the running game, be smart pass protectors, be very firm inside the pocket, run the ball when we want to run the ball and basically throw the ball down the field when we can but also become a little bit better completion percentage football team. Get in that mid-60s, 66-67 completion percentage, make more first downs. Those are some of the things that we all have decided we'd like to see us be as we move forward."

It sounds like play action might be a big part of this offense, and would give Byron Leftwich more time back in the pocket?

"If you look around the league at any team, you take Denver, you take the teams that get the ball down the field, those plays are created by getting the secondary to play close to the line of scrimmage and then being able to play-action and get behind those defenders. So yeah, it would be the norm if you're trying to get the ball down the field to become a good play action football team."

The expectation is the defense is going to be one of the top defenses in the league. Do you have to mirror the offensive philosophy with that strength?

"Yeah, I think you do. I think it's important that you understand this is going to be an elite defense. There's a tremendous amount of speed from what I've been able to see. It's very well coached, a very smart defense in the right spots. They don't turn a lot of people free. So yeah we have to, but in order to do that we have to stay on the field more and make more first downs. A good power running team from last year. A very good draw team from what I've seen, the Jaguars are, and so now we need to run the ball a little bit better on the outside perimeter and also continue to do the things well that we did well last year. The number one thing we did well here last year was we didn't turn the football over. When you don't turn that football over, you give yourself a chance to win and be in the game every week."

On the offensive line:

"I'm very pleased. We're very pleased, Andy (Heck) and I, Jack (Del Rio) and Carl (Smith) with the progress the offensive line has made this off-season. We had identified some schemes that we wanted to tighten up. We also identified some players that needed to take the next step or the next progression as far as being pros and those players that we have identified have had excellent off-seasons as well as bringing in guys like Stockar (McDougle) and a couple young free agent rookies. (Dennis) Norman taking the next step as a pro and getting a chance to work a lot with Brad (Meester) out with an elbow injury early on in the off-season. I think we've seen some of our young pros take that next step. I think Andy has done an excellent job with the line defining what he wants them to be and the type of technique that we're going to use and I think the guys have done a great job accepting coaching and going out to work on their trade every day. So I think the offensive line has a possibility or has a chance to be a very good offensive line not just an average offensive line."

With all five starters back, would you anticipate a lot of competition for some of those guys?

"There should not ever be jobs handed to anybody unless the guy goes over to Hawaii (Pro Bowl), and the last time I looked I didn't see anyone from that group over in Hawaii, so yeah there should be competition at as many spots as we can create. I think there has been great competition throughout the course of the off-season and the guys have accepted it very well but in tribute to Andy, the first meeting that I stepped into he laid out the ground rules and said that there would be great competition in the group and I think that's really the way you lay the law down. You make sure the guys understand where you're coming from as a coach and I think Andy did a great job of doing that in his first meeting."

Are there some positions where you're not supposed to have competition?

"There are always positions that you don't have competition. You have some guys that are elite players who are very consistent over time, very good players that are consistent over a number of years. It doesn't make a lot of sense to try to replace those types of players."

How many of those consistent players do you have?

"We have a number of those."

Can you name some of them?

"It's not my job to do that. You have to ask the head coach that question. We have some players that are very consistent that we're going to be able to rely on to bring us a certain level of performance every week, and so when you have players that play at a certain level of performance week in and week out, it doesn't make a lot of sense to try to replace those players."

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