Tice, Lovie on same page about offense

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Tice, Lovie on same page about offense

Mike Tice assuming the full role of offensive coordinator has to have a lot of Cheshire cat grins in one meeting room at Halas Hall. Tice may have had his Randy Ratio for wideout Randy Moss getting a minimum number of touches per game in Minnesota, but now there could be a Pancake Ratio installed, which should make a roomful of offensive linemen very happy.

Tice formally interviewed with Lovie Smith on Thursday in what may have been just a formality and final clarification of goals, styles and details.

Tice shares the same vision I have for our offense moving forward, Smith said. We want to be a strong running team with a big-play pass attack. Mike will call plays for us and continue to have an active role with our offensive line.

Tice will be Jay Cutlers fifth offensive coordinator, third in four Chicago years, but he also has been intimately involved in the things that may have kept Cutler alive over the past two seasons.

The game designs of Mike Martz saw Cutler sacked 27 times over basically 5-12 games prior to the off week in 2010, a rate of nearly 5.5 per game.

During the break and a meeting that involved Jerry Angelo, Lovie Smith, Martz and Tice, Tice was given a bigger say in the game planning and the offense was tilted toward run-pass balance. Over the final nine games, Cutler was sacked a total of 25 times (2.7 per game).

After just two games with passer ratings above his career average of 85 in the first six games, Cutler posted six of 85-plus over the final nine.

Lovie and I share a similar mindset of what the Bears offense should look and feel like, Tice said in a statement. There will be a toughness about us. We are going to be a powerful run team and were going to be able to mix in explosive pass plays.

It will be important for us to utilize the talents of our players and exploit match-ups each Sunday. We have athletes we can build with. I feel fortunate Lovie has placed the trust in me to help move us forward to a championship.

Bears-49ers: And the winner is?

Bears-49ers: And the winner is?

Both teams are on track to be drafting in the top five, and the inevitable “the loser is the winner” talk has made its rounds, meaning that a defeat moves the loser higher in the draft order. The reality is that neither team will tank the game for draft position.

But the chances of two woeful teams playing well are slim. The 49ers won in Week 1 and then have lost 10 straight. The Bears are trying to avoid losing four straight for the first time under John Fox.

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Quarterback Colin Kaepernick burst upon the NFL scene in 2012 with a blowout of the Bears in his first start. He has regained his starting job in San Francisco and is still one of the prototypical mobile quarterbacks.

But the 49ers are the NFL’s worst defense in both points and yardage allowed, and they are the worst rushing defense in the league. Expect the Bears to try exploiting that and give quarterback Matt Barkley a balanced run-pass game plan.

Prediction: Bears 24, 49ers 20

Bears hoping to get Kyle Fuller back in DB mix sooner rather than later

Bears hoping to get Kyle Fuller back in DB mix sooner rather than later

Kyle Fuller was one of the seeming fixtures in the Bears’ defense as it transitioned from the 4-3 of old to the 3-4 of Vic Fangio. And he may be again, the Bears hope very soon, as he has begun practicing after months on injured reserve following knee surgery in August.

The Bears could place Fuller on the active roster as late as Saturday after he practiced all three days this week. “He made it three days in practice, no setbacks,” said coach John Fox. “He seems to be adapting pretty well. He has another practice [Saturday] and we don’t have to make a decision until 3 p.m. because of where he is on the roster. We’ll evaluate that after tomorrow.”

Were Fuller to return — restoring one projected 2016 starter to a defense that has been forced to field five different starting secondaries in the span of 11 games — he may be phased back in with a managed number of snaps, as other certain other players returning from injury have been.

But getting Fuller back projects to be an instant upgrade for a defensive backfield among the NFL’s worst at producing takeaways.

“We all play different positions so we’re kind of used to it, people moving in and out over the year,” said Bryce Callahan, who was initially ticketed for nickel duty as the No. 3 cornerback this season but has been pressed into service starting at cornerback in four games.

“It’s always good to get someone like Kyle back.”

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The Bears would need to weigh what workload Fuller could handle vs. roster needs based on only having 46 players active on game day.

“You’re always a little bit cautious because it does affect your roster,” Fox said. “But if you feel like he makes you better, that’s a move you make. Now we’re just working through him medically, durability-wise, and how much he can play.”

Jay Cutler (shoulder) was officially declared out and is headed for surgery on Saturday, ultimately to injured reserve.

Other availability questions include receiver Eddie Royal (toe), guard Josh Sitton (ankle) and safety Adrian Amos (ankle), all questionable. Linebacker Willie Young (knee) did not practice but linebacker Leonard Floyd was able to practice on a limited basis although his status in the concussion protocol will not be known until closer to game time.