Chicago Bears

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.

Can Markus Wheaton fix what ails the Bears’ offense?

Can Markus Wheaton fix what ails the Bears’ offense?

Markus Wheaton was a full participant in practice on Wednesday and wasn’t on the Bears’ injury report Thursday, signaling that the 5-foot-11, 189 pound speedster will make his Bears debut Sunday against his former team, the Pittsburgh Steelers. He’s not the solution for the Bears’ offense, but he could be part of it. 

For an offense that’s woefully lacked someone who can reliably stretch the field, Wheaton can at least provide the threat of going deep. Two years ago, while with the Pittsburgh Steelers, Wheaton averaged 17 yards per reception. Mike Glennon’s longest completion this year went for 22 yards. 

“It definitely adds another dimension,” Glennon said. “It’ll be great having Markus back.”

But Wheaton only played in three games last season (four catches, 51 yards) and, at his best, averaged 48 catches, 696 yards and four touchdowns a year from 2014-2015. Is it fair to expect Wheaton to be a big part of the Bears' offensive solution given he hasn't played much recently, and was limited to only a handful of reps in training camp and preseason practices due to a pair of freak ailments?

Maybe not, but with the Bears 0-2, he's the best hope they have at a skill position. 

Wheaton needed an emergency appendectomy the first weekend the Bears were in Bourbonnais — “I thought I had to poop,” Wheaton said, maybe providing too much information, before realizing the excruiating pain in which he was in was something worse. Shortly after returning to the practice fields at Olivet Nazarene University, Wheaton fractured his pinkie finger in gruesome fashion (he said the bone was sticking out) when he was awkwardly grabbed while trying to catch a pass. 

That Wheaton broke a finger wasn’t only significant for his ability to catch passes. Consider what his former quarterback — Ben Roethlisberger — had to say about what makes Wheaton an effective deep threat:

“He’s got a very good ability of using his hands,” Roethlisberger said. “When you’re trying to stretch the field, you’ve gotta have some little techniques to help you get open because DBs can run as much as receivers can. So you gotta be able to use your hands to swim, kinda, get some swiping, get the hands off, I thought that he really had some good technique when it came to the deep ball and getting away from DBs.”

Roethlisberger and Wheaton shared a good rapport in Pittsburgh, with the quarterback clearly communicating to the receiver what he expected timing-wise in his routes. It’s been a challenge to develop something similar with Glennon given the lack of practice time, but Wheaton said putting in extra work after practice has helped. 

If Wheaton and Glennon can get on the same page, perhaps that can lead to at least some deep ball attempts. The Bears have to find a way to prevent opposing defenses from stacking the box and focusing on stopping Jordan Howard, who only has 59 yards on 22 carries this year. 

“We're going to face overpopulated boxes, we know that,” offensive coordinator Dowell Loggains said. “There's going to be seven, eight guys in the box every time and we have to execute better and it comes down to that.”

According to NFL’s Next Gen Stats, only three of Glennon’s 85 pass attempts have traveled 20 or more yards beyond the line of scrimmage. The only completion of those was Sunday’s garbage-time touchdown to Deonte Thompson, which was caught near the back of the end zone. 

The threat of Wheaton going deep won’t be enough, though. Glennon still has prove he can complete those deep balls — the last time he completed a pass of 25 or more yards was on Nov. 2, 2014 (though he’s only attempted 96 passes since that date). 

But Wheaton feels ready to go and is confident he can do his job — which, in turn, could, in a best-case scenario, help his other 10 teammates on offense do their jobs, too. 

“It’s been a long time coming,” Wheaton said. “I’m excited and hopefully this is the week.”

Kris Bryant is all aboard the Mitch Trubisky bandwagon

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AP

Kris Bryant is all aboard the Mitch Trubisky bandwagon

Count Kris Bryant among the Chicagoans who are calling for Mitch Trubisky to start at quarterback for the Bears.

OK, that may be a bit extreme as Bryant simply said he would supporting giving Trubisky a "shot", but still:

After a rough game for incumbent starting QB Mike Glennon last week, most of Chicago has been clamoring for the No. 2 overall pick to get some snaps under center.

Why wouldn't the crown prince of Chicago baseball get in on the noise?