Is Mike Tice's Potential Departure an Opportunity or Disaster for Chicago Bears?
The Bears soon may have more than just a GM search to complete. They may be looking to replace Mike Tice, their recently-promoted offensive coordinator.
The Oakland Raiders have asked the Bears for permission to interview Tice for their vacant head coaching position.
Ex-Green Bay Packer Reggie McKenzie fired the Raiders coach as soon as the ink was dry on his new contract. Now he wants to talk to Tice. Those darn Packers are always messing with the Bears, even when they are former Packers.
Granted, Tice is likely just one of many candidates for the Oakland job, but it still raises concerns for a Bears team that recently fired its GM, gladly watched Mike Martz walk out the door and is looking for a "passing coordinator".
In other words, they are knee-deep in turmoil already. They need this like Charlie Sheen needs another drink.
If Tice decides to head to the west coast, that would be two offensive coordinators to leave in the span of about a month or so. And while Martz's departure was a mutual agreement, the Bears don't want to lose Tice.
But a good manager should never hold an employee back from bettering himself if he has the opportunity. In this case, the Raiders job is a clear promotion for Tice, so I am assuming they will grant permission if they haven't already done so.
But instead of viewing this as a headache or even a potential disaster, as some are writing, I have another perspective for you to consider.
Perhaps it is an opportunity.
Look, I thought the Tice hiring was fine. I really don't have any big issues over the decision to move Tice into the role, and no, the fact that he doesn't have tons of experience calling plays doesn't bother me.
Yet the hiring, to me, was one of convenience more than anything. Tice was already here, he was familiar with the players and coaches, and so it was natural to consider him the heir apparent to Martz.
And yes, Tice did a nice job with a very shaky offensive line and would seem to understand that the offense needs a better balance than what Martz preferred. Just as importantly, he knows what Jay Cutler wants.
So, when you consider all that, it does seem like it would be a pain in the arse to have to bring someone new in from the outside to coordinate the offense.
But there are a couple things that slightly concern me about Tice. First, he likes to run the ball. A lot. In fact, you might say he wants to come off the bus running. That should certainly please Lovie Smith.
While the Bears do have a solid running game, assuming Matt Forte returns and is fully healed from his knee injury, there is no question that running the ball is old school. It's passe—vanilla ice cream in a “Schweddy Balls” world.
See where I'm going here? But wait, there's more.
Tice also doesn't like the short-to-medium passing game. He will throw the occasional deep ball—something I applaud—to stretch the defense, but he prefers to run the ball.
So that west coast offense that seems well suited for Cutler and the Bears? You can forget about it if Tice is coaching the offense.
So maybe instead of this becoming a disaster, the Bears can use this as an opportunity to bring a fresh pair of eyes to modernize the offense.
I know—you don't have to remind me—whoever the new coordinator is, he would likely have to share the philosophy of the head coach. Heck, the next GM apparently has to do that too.
"Ultimately, I want to bring in a general manager who understands Lovie's philosophy," Bears president Ted Phillips said.
So I'm sure Lovie would try to find a coach with a similar philosophy as his. But it's not as if Smith has had tons of success with assistant coaches. He goes through them as often as Rick Perry has brain farts.
Recognizing that, it probably would be easier to just have Tice stick around. In addition to Lovie wanting someone who runs the ball, there likely would not be that large a pool of candidates to choose from.
At least that's what Brad Biggs thinks.
“Two years ago when they were in the same position searching for a replacement for Ron Tuner, not everyone wanted to come talk to the Bears,” Brad Biggs of the National Football Post and Chicago Tribune told "The Mully and Hanley Show".
“It wasn’t the most attractive job out there. There were concerns about the stability of Lovie Smith and his position. They kind of find themselves in the same spot right now. If they were to be forced to go out there, say, 10 days from now or two weeks from now and start going through the process of hiring a coordinator, it probably wouldn’t be the deepest field of candidates.”
Plus, who wants to coach here when the head coach is in the last year of his contract? Unless that candidate has aspirations to replace Smith.
So while it might be easier if Tice stays, I am not ready to call his leaving an unmitigated disaster quite just yet.
For one thing, it's not as if Tice has the Raiders job in his hip pocket just yet. And, at least Mad Mike is gone. And who knows—maybe the next coordinator will run a west coast offense. I just hope it's not Trent Dilfer.
Hey, the Bears essentially have made Lovie Smith the GM, so maybe they could have Cutler be a player-coach. Sure, it's a bad idea, but it would save a few bucks. And we all know how the McCaskeys love their nickles.
Now, I don't know about you, but I have got to go.
I have a sudden urge for ice cream for some reason.
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