This is no different for the Chicago Bears. Their offensive line has been a concern as of late, though they seemed to play better as a unit towards the end of the season. Experts and fans alike have indicated that it'd be a good idea for the Bears to add a new, veteran lineman to the team. There is one person, however, who's more hesitant to say that.
That man? Offensive Line Coach Mike Tice. As quoted by Neil Hayes in the Sun Times:
''Here's the problem with bringing veterans in: Right now, I'm a month in with our veterans here, and I'm trying to get them to do things the way I want them to do it,'' Tice said. ''They've accepted that and adapted to it pretty well. Now you bring a bunch of young guys in, and you're teaching them from scratch the way you want to do things.
Well that makes sense. He's already invested some time in his current guys. He does have a point, however, and it's a lot less crazy than it seems from outward appearance. Veteran guys often don't take well to new teaching.
I think many would agree that bringing in premium talent can rarely be a bad thing. But let's take a look at what Tice says right after the above quote:
Sometimes you bring in a veteran guy with somebody like me who is set in his ways and who wants things done a certain way, and I have to spend too much time breaking bad habits. And sometimes you can't break those bad habits because veteran guys want to tell you how they do things and how they want to take care of things. At this stage of my career, I don't want to do that. I want to be with guys who will do things the way I'm asking them to do it and buy into what I'm selling and move forward and put together a really great line.
In short--it's easier to mold the guys you're already working with, and the new guys. While it seems counter-intuitive to say that adding better players makes you worse, it definitely can. Some veteran players will refuse that teaching, especially if they've been generally considered to be good-to-great players. The general mindset is, "Hey, what I was doing was working, why should I change?"
It is, to a large part, another way of saying that intangibles matter. A lot is made of having the on-field leader, the player who inspires those around them, and helps build them up and take their game to the next level. In this case, it's the position coach who's doing that. (And it's about time.) Tice is actively invested in taking this group of guys, and developing their play, be it their footwork, their hands, or their approach to blocking. He understand the role they will play in this new offense, and how their efforts will singlehandedly (not really singlehandedly, perhaps ten-handedly?) affect the outcome play-to-play.
The other buzzword that applies here, and is more prevalent, is the concept of "gelling" or "meshing" These terms get thrown around quite a bit, especially when players aren't playing well together. For example, with a lot of new guys on the line last year, they just needed time to "gel", and it's generally accepted that towards the end of the season, especially the Vikings and Lions games, they seemed to do just that. (Nevermind the fact that players finally got to play in their positions during that period.) Tice is an upgrade at coach, and has the tools and experience to bring the Bears line to a strong, if not dominant, state.
That's really where it lies. The same things discussed so often as being things teams need to do, will ultimately prove the success or failure of the line this season. Teamwork, cohesion, and the ability to adapt.
So is Tice wrong for thinking that the Bears don't need to bring in a veteran for this squad? Only time can tell that, but what do you think? Do you agree or disagree with the opinion? Sound off on this Monday afternoon, and remember, Kickoff at home against the Lions is only nineteen weeks from yesterday.