Martz gone, Tice to take over?

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Martz gone, Tice to take over?

You cant fire me. I quit.

That was the statement effectively made mid-Tuesday as Mike Martz resigned as offensive coordinator, citing philosophical differences. Which would be more noteworthy if Martz werent already leaving anyway because he was without a contract for 2012.

Going with him is quarterbacks coach Shane Day following a year in which the assessment and play of Caleb Hanie as a backup was a disaster, and rookie Nathan Enderle never developed enough to even be active by week 17.

Martz created a firestorm around himself late this season when his camp began to put his name in play for other jobs, NFL and college. The lack of focus in a season that was in peril angered coach Lovie Smith and sealed his fate in Chicago.

The search will be on for a Martz successor, which may extend only as far as down the way at Halas Hall where offensive line coach Mike Tices office is. However, Tice was a pick of now-former GM Jerry Angelo in 2010, and Martz was brought in over Tice.

Bill Callahan is out of contract with the New York Jets, is a Chicagoan and also is considered one of the top offensive line coaches in the NFL. If Tice is elevated to Martzs job, Callahans roots in Chicago may be a pull.

But a concern of coaching candidates will be the unmistakable pressure Smith is under to win in 2012. This was a problem when Dick Jauron needed to replace Gary Crowton in 2001 and was left with John Shoop from his incumbent staff members. That works in Tices favor in a win-or-else year.

Martzs departure marks the third time since he has flopped with a defense-based head coach since leaving the St. Louis Rams. He was fired by Rod Marinelli in Detroit and Mike Singletary in San Francisco before getting a shot from Smith to return to the NFL.

The offense achieved some successes under Martz, who succeeded Ron Turner. But the past two seasons have been bumpy as Martz frequently went to his preferred downfield passing game and had to be reined in by Smith in both mid-2010 and again in early 2011 after eschewing offensive balance and going with game plans that were ill-suited for what his players could do.

On the personnel side, Martz pushed for signing a veteran backup in 2010, bringing in Todd Collins who proved to be more of a disaster than Hanie this year. The Bears also traded away tight end and former No. 1 pick Greg Olsen when it was determined that he was not deemed a fit for Martzs offense.

Bears announce training camp schedule

Bears announce training camp schedule

The Bears released their official training camp schedule Thursday morning. After reporting to Olivet Nazarene on Wednesday, July 26, the first of ten practices open to the public will take place the following day. The Bears will be based out of Bourbonnais for the 16th straight season. Training camp will go through Sunday, Aug. 13 before the Bears break camp and finish the preseason in Lake Forest. 

All practices are tentatively scheduled to start at various times during the 11 a.m. hour with the exception of Saturday, Aug. 13, which starts at 12:05 p.m. Those times are subject to change based on weather, and a varying set of schedules that John Fox and his coaching staff have set up, as they adjust to player and training staff preferences in hopes of reducing injuries. 

Also, new this season, fans wanting to attend practices must order free tickets in advance through the Bears website. Fans will not be allowed in without a ticket, and the first 1,000 fans each day will be given various souvenirs. The practice campus will be open to the public with tickets from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m.

Here is the full training camp schedule:

After historically low turnover total in 2016, what can Bears do to get more takeaways?

After historically low turnover total in 2016, what can Bears do to get more takeaways?

Quintin Demps set a career high in interceptions last year by not doing anything different. And that’s the message he’s sending a defense that generated only 11 takeaways in 2016, tied for the lowest single-season total in NFL history. 

Demps went from picking off four passes in both 2013 with the Kansas City Chiefs and 2014 with the New York Giants to notching just one interception with the Houston Texans in 2015. In 2016, though, Demps intercepted six passes, broke up nine more and totaled 38 tackles. 

“Turnovers are like, it’s not something that you go get, it’s something you let come to you by doing your job first and then helping out,” Demps said. “And then you’d be surprised how they come to you by doing your job and being aware of when you can help somebody out. A lot of times when you get help is when you get picks and turnovers.”

The danger for a defense coming off a historically bad takeaway is sort of a whiplash effect, where there’s an over-emphasis on creating turnovers and not enough attention paid to, as Demps said, “doing your job.” There’s a fine line between being opportunistic and undisciplined.

“I tell my safeties all the time, we gotta tackle first,” Demps said. “Tackle first, don’t miss any tackles and then the picks are going to come. I promise you that.”

The Bears felt positively after signs of being more opportunistic as a defense during shorts-and-helmets practices in May and June, though if that was because of any real improvements or because the defense is usually ahead of the offense is hard to tell at this stage of the year. 

The offseason program was valuable for the Bears’ secondary in growing trust within a group that had — no pun intended — plenty of turnover after the 2016 season. The hope is that the offseason additions of Demps, Prince Amukamara, Marcus Cooper and Eddie Jackson will solidify the secondary and lead to something better than last year’s historically-low turnover total. 

“We’re still trying to build something, but the actual, real building happens in training camp because I think then you start to see the group start to get formed and yo know who’s going to go with the one’s, who’s going to go with the two’s, stuff like that,” Amukamara said. “So I think that starts to get formed. But I think with a lot of guys now, I think what that creates is competition and guys trying their hardest to make the team.”