View from the Moon: Tice's future worth watching

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View from the Moon: Tice's future worth watching

Tuesday, Feb. 15, 2011
1:45 p.m.

By John Mullin
CSNChicago.com

Not surprisingly after the praise directed this season and after toward offensive line coach Mike Tice, the Bears turned down a request from the Tennessee Titans to interview Tice for their opening as offensive coordinator.

The interest from Tennessee, first reported by the Chicago Tribune, was mildly surprising if only because the Titans new head coach, Mike Munchak, is himself a Hall of Fame offensive lineman. Munchak hired Bruce Matthews on Feb. 9 as offensive line coach; Matthews is a Hall of Fame offensive lineman and longtime teammate of Munchak with Houston in the Oilers days.

Hiring Tice as offensive coordinator would arguably given the Titans the most line-based coaching staff in recent NFL memory.

Tices future warrants watching. He was under consideration for the Bears O.C. post that eventually went to Mike Martz. At one time there was thinking that Tice would serve as a de facto co-coordinator with another candidate, Tice serving as run-game coordinator and the other assistant performing play calling and management of the passing game.

That notion became moot when Martz was hired. The Martz-Tice fit, involving not only two former head coaches but also two distinctly different offensive philosophies, was an interesting one from the start.

Had Tice and his grounding on the ground left the Bears staff, the Bears would have been hard pressed to even find a top-shelf mentor for what is decidedly still an offensive line in a molten state, let alone a strong personality for a staff in need of that in the shake-out period last season as the Bears offense looked for both personnel and its identity.

Interestingly as well, the Titans almost immediately signed veteran coordinator Chris Palmer as their O.C. Palmer was sought after by the Bears about a decade ago when Dick Jauron was after a permanent successor to Gary Crowton as coordinator.

Because Jauron appeared to be in job-jeopardy after two losing seasons, Palmer insisted on substantial guaranteed money in his three-year deal. The Bears werent so inclined, so Palmer passed and the Bears removed the interim tag from Shoops title. Palmer, who was the first O.C. of the expansion Jacksonville Jaguars under Tom Coughlin (Jauron was the D-coordinator on that staff), went on to become the first head coach of the re-constituted Cleveland Browns.

Whether Tice would have been the frontrunner in Tennessee even with the Bears OK is problematic. Mike Florio at ProFootballTalk.com reports that Palmer likely was the first choice even if the Titans had received permission to talk with Tice and New York Jets offensive line coach Bill Callahan, which the Titans also didnt receive.

Playing Tag

The New England Patriots removed any remote chance the Bears might have had in Logan Mankins when the Pats placed their franchise tag on the Pro Bowl guard. San Diego effectively took coveted wide receiver Vincent Jackson off the market as well with a franchise tag as well.

The Jackson lock-up is not of major significance for the Bears. Jackson would represent an upgrade to any receiving corps but no indication was coming out of Halas Hall that there was going to be a run at Jackson. Braylon Edwards, Roy Williams and even Plaxico Burress rate more realistic chances.

The Bears obviously had interest in Mankins last year but he wasnt going anywhere and the contract situation (huge ) coupled with the collective bargaining situations possible impact on the market made a move on that scale prohibitive.

John "Moon" Mullin is CSNChicago.com's Bears Insider, and appears regularly on Bears Postgame Live and Chicago Tribune Live. Follow Moon on Twitter for up-to-the-minute Bears information.

Good or better? Why offseason moves are making 2017 Bears better

Good or better? Why offseason moves are making 2017 Bears better

Improvement typically comes in incremental steps, not leaps. And the Bears of 2017, based on what they have done at a handful of positions, the latest being Thursday’s signing of wide receiver Victor Cruz, fit that template.

The clear organizational commitment is to build through the draft, even if injuries have undermined some otherwise apparent upgrades to starting lineups on both sides of the football. But if there is a “theme” to what GM Ryan Pace is doing to muscle up a sluggish roster, it is that the Bears are willing to take flyers on veteran players – with additions like four veteran wide receivers with injury and issue histories – that arguably point to a win-now mindset while draft picks develop and contribute.

Jaye Howard and John Jenkins. Make the defensive line “better?” Than Jonathan Bullard and Will Sutton, probably. But “good?” Mmmmm…..

The game-one tight ends last year were Zach Miller-Logan Paulsen-Gregg Scruggs. Now they’re Miller-Dion Sims-Adam Shaheen (based on a second-round draft choice). “Good?” Maybe, maybe not. “Better?” Obviously, based on Sims alone.

Mike Glennon-Mark Sanchez-Mitch Trubisky. Bears “better” at quarterback? Than Jay Cutler-Brian Hoyer-Matt Barkley, probably. “Good?” Mmmmmm…..

The decisions to sign Glennon and Sanchez to the quarterback depth chart have sparked their shares of understandable cynical skepticism. But Kirk Cousins and Jimmy Garoppolo were not available in trade, so the Pace decision was to gamble on upside with Glennon over the known quantity of Brian Hoyer (the preference of some coaches) and certainly Jay Cutler, for whom “potential” and “upside” no longer applied.

Add in the aggressive draft of Trubisky and the result was three possibilities of hits on a quarterback (Sanchez and Connor Shaw being combined here as a pair entry in the hit-possibility scenarios). All three were deemed an improvement over Cutler and/or Barkley.

The results may not vault the Bears all the way up to “good” at the pivotal position for any franchise. But “better” is sometimes all you can realistically manage.

Taking a wider-screen look at wide receiver in this context… .

Coach John Fox has cited the need for the Bears to establish the ability to get yardage in bigger chunks. Accordingly, all four of the veteran wideout signings this offseason – Cruz, Rueben Randle, Markus Wheaton, Kendall Wright –  have posted yards-per-catch seasons of 14 or longer.

All four won’t be on the opening-day roster, but all four offer the promise of major impact. Cruz, Randle and Wright have had seasons of 70 or more receptions, and Wheaton topped out at 53 in 2015 with the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Randy Moss, Terrell Owens and Jerry Rice weren’t available, so “good” was hard to achieve in an offseason in which Alshon Jeffery and Eddie Royal were expected departures long before their exits. But are Cruz, Randle, Wheaton and Wright, with Kevin White and Cameron Meredith, a “better” starting point than Jeffery, Royal, White, Bellamy, etc. of a year ago?

Obviously. But players with even moderately established NFL “names” (like Cruz, Randle, etal.) are typically available for a reason; teams do not routinely give up on talent. And none of the four come without significant shadows on their NFL resumes, whether for injury or other questions.

Cruz missed most of 2014 and all of the 2015 season, and hasn’t played a full season since his Pro Bowl year of 2012.

Randle was described as a head case by scouts and was so bad that he was let go in the Eagles’ cutdown to 75 last year, followed by disparaging comments from those in and around the organization.

Wheaton flashed promise in his 2014-15 opportunities as a part-time starter but played just three games before a shoulder injury landed him on IR last season.

The Tennessee Titans thought enough of Wright, their 2012 first-round draft choice, to pick up his fifth-year option going into las season. But by week 14 he was benched for tardiness and was a healthy DNP in game 16, announcing after the game that he already knew he was not in the Titans’ plans for 2017.

The prospect of the Bears going from 3-13 to “good” borders on fantasy. But if being among the NFL’s busiest this offseason hasn’t propelled the Bears to that level, the results point to “better.” At this point, that’s something,.

How big of an impact will Victor Cruz have on the Bears?

How big of an impact will Victor Cruz have on the Bears?

The Bears inked Victor Cruz to a one-year deal on Thursday, adding another receiver to an already crowded corps.

But it never hurts to add a veteran one to a young group, especially with a new starting quarterback.

Cruz is 30 years old and isn't the same Pro Bowl-caliber player he was before missing the entire 2015 season with a calf injury, but he surely has a lot left in the tank and can serve as a great mentor for the Bears receivers.

Just how big of an impact will he have on his new team? See what the SportsTalk Live panel had to say in the video above.