I’m not going to lie I was not very excited when Mike Tice was named offensive coordinator to replace the Mad Scientist Mike Martz. Tice seems to have a reputation that is way bigger than his actual production. He was the head coach for the Minnesota Vikings during their offensive heydays with Culpepper, Moss, Carter, and Smith running the offense, but really how big of a hand did Tice have when the Vikings were in the Top 5 in offense consistently? Tice’s real reputation is offensive line work, but have we really seen any improvement in the past three seasons? That bunch is below average at best and if Tice is such a great teacher why do they continue to struggle year in and year out especially early on in the season.
Enter 2012 and the Bears have all these new toys, but they have Mike Tice orchestrating the new offense. We have a three game sample size and the results to me are below average. The Bears got away with a lot due to Dwight Freeney getting hurt early and the Colts defense being poor in general in game one. Game 2 in Green Bay was a disaster from a game plan point of view with little to no adjustments being made, and game 3 versus St Louis was mediocre at best with the defense bailing out the offense in the end.
Early in training camp Tice came out and when asked about 7 step drops he replied that they would not put players in a position to fail. From the Actions speak louder than Words department, Tice has not done anything but put people in a position to fail form J’Marcus Webb to Jay Cutler to Devin Hester. It’s understandable that it takes time and rhythm to become a good player caller, but we are approaching the quarter poll and some things need to happen quickly on the offensive side of the ball.
1. Run the Ball with conviction
Running the ball sets up everything else that the offense does, but doing play action pass plays on the 2nd play from scrimmage does not fool anyone. Lovie Smith has always stated that the Bears will come off the bus running, but it always seems it takes 4 or 5 games every season to get in the right mind set to establish the run and run with conviction especially early in the game. This past week Michael Bush was getting over 5 yards a carry early in the game, yet Tice fell in love with throwing the ball and the only time the Bears are running is draw plays on third and long. Not only does running the ball set everything up but it slows down the pass rush. This week against DeMarcus Ware and the Cowboys pass rush, the Bears running the ball with authority will slow them down and keep Jay Cutler upright.
2. Attack The Middle of the Field
When previewing the 2012 Bears many including myself did go back to the Tice Vikings era, the Vikings were big in throwing to their tight ends down the seam. The expections for Kellen Davis and Evan Rodriquez were not Marshall like, but they were expected to become weapons to be used that were totally ignored during the Martz era. In the Green Bay game the middle was wide open and yet totally ignored except for the lone Bears touchdown late in the game to Davis. It looked like Tice was going to commit to the tight end early in the Rams game with a pass to Davis very early in the first quarter but only returned to him once more in the 2nd half for a key first down. If defenses are going to continue to play the Bear the same way then Davis needs to be a bigger priority in the middle of the field after the running game is established.
3. Screen Plays
When the Bears last played in Dallas it was a game they were not suppose to win and early on it looked liked Jay Cutler was going to get killed and it all changed on one play. A short tight end screen to Greg Olsen slowed down Ware and company and the Bears offense settled down and won the game. Granted the Bears missed Forte last week who is great out of the backfield, but no matter who is on the field to slow down the Cowboys pass rush multiple screen passes are going to slow down pressure on Cutler.
4. Scrap the Hester Package
In the first three games everything seems forced on offense. Brandon Marshall had 15 targets in week one and every time Hester is on the field offensively it seems like the Bears are forcing the ball in his direction. The offense needs to flow smoothly and even though there doesn’t even seem to be a Hester package he doesn’t seem in the flow of the offense which makes it worse. Hester should have had a touchdown when the ball that was a tad high went through his hands. Again this is on Tice to have the right personnel in the right place at the right time. Play Hester in the flow of the game and don’t put a huge arrow over his head that the ball is going his way every time he’s on the field.
5. Make Halftime Adjustments
One thing whether you are a Lovie backer or not is that he’s been very good at defensive adjustments if it’s not working at halftime. Tice needs to be more proactive to adjusting the offense. The offense was painfully bad in Green Bay in the first half, and yet the 2nd half was just a rerun of the first. In the Rams game the running game was working but Tice never was dedicatedto it for the entire game. Don’t fall so in love with the game plan on Sunday or Monday that you are unable to adjust and put players in position to succeed.
Tice is still learning the personnel on the fly, but this is a week that he has to put his stamp on this offense and put it in position to be successful like he stated his goal was back in late July! Oh by the way Mike don’t leave Webb on an island with Ware!