Tuesday, Feb. 15, 2011
By John Mullin
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.
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.