Bears promote Tice to offensive coordinator

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Bears promote Tice to offensive coordinator

The Bears wasted little time filling the vacancy at offensive coordinator, elevating Mike Tice to the spot held by Mike Martz until last Tuesday.

Tices promotion has been expected as long ago as last offseason when Martz turned down an offer of a contract extension while the Bears were giving Tice a raise and turning down a request from the Tennessee Titans to interview Tice for their offensive-coordinator post.

The expected plan is to have Tice be primarily in charge of the run game and the overall play-calling, and have an assistant responsible for the passing game. A strong candidate is expected to be wide receivers coach Darryl Drake, who shares the philosophy of a solid run game and has always placed a premium on receivers being blockers.

Tice has been increasingly involved in the Bears game planning since the off week of the 2010 season. At that point the Bears had lost consecutive games to Seattle and Washington with a pass-heavy plan by Martz.

During the break Tice was given an expanded voice in the game planning and the Bears offense swung back into a balance that was part of a 7-2 finish on the way to the playoffs.

Tice is a former head coach, having been in charge of the Minnesota Vikings during the time (2001-2005) of Randy Moss and a strong passing offense with Daunte Culpepper. He was offensive line coach with the Jacksonville Jaguars from 2006-2009 before coming to the Bears.

Ironically, Tice was Jerry Angelos preference for offensive coordinator in 2010, being hired well ahead of Martz. Tice was a college quarterback at Maryland and a tight end with the Seattle Seahawks, Washington Redskins and Minnesota Vikings.

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Sometimes the passage of time makes things a little sweeter.
 
Josh Sitton had been selected to three Pro Bowls while a member of the Green Bay Packers. At the end of training camp last year, the Packers abruptly released Sitton.
 
On Monday, Sitton was named to his fourth Pro Bowl, replacing former Green Bay teammate T.J. Lang. At age 30, this Pro Bowl was special.
 
"It's a great honor, always a goal of mine every year," Sitton said via conference call. "It's an honor to me and to the guys I play with, the guys helping me along...
 
"I would say just the age thing, the older you get, the more you appreciate them. You can't play at a high level in this game so the whole age thing makes it even more special."

[SHOP: Gear up Bears fans!]
 
When the Bears were forced to go into Week 1 of the 2015 season with a shuffled offensive line, the situation wasn't ideal; Pro Bowl guard Kyle Long moving to right tackle as a hurried fill when neither Charles Leno nor Jordan Mills were an answer.
 
The 2016 season also began with an unexpected and significant shuffle, but this time with one that immediately bumped up the quality of the line. GM Ryan Pace moved quickly to sign Sitton after his release by the Green Bay Packers, a step that bumped rookie Cody Whitehair from guard to center, where he earned All-Rookie honors from the Pro Football Writers Association of America.
 
"It was challenging for sure," Sitton said. "It was something I haven't had to do for quite some time but it was stimulating being thrown in and needing to learn the offense in four or five days."
 
Sitton, who signed a three-year contract worth as much as $21 million with $10 million guaranteed, joins rookie running back Jordan Howard as the two Bears scheduled to play in the Pro Bowl. He started 12 of 13 games in 2016, missing time with an ankle injury but being a strong presence in a line that ranked No. 8 in sack percentage while getting Howard to a franchise-record 1,313 rushing yards even with a rookie center and a group that never played a game together before Week 1 in Houston against the Texans.
 
"I think we can only get better, now that we'll have an offseason together," Sitton said. "We'll see what we can do."