It was never my intention to include coaches in these lists. The players are ultimately responsible for following through and executing the game plan, but as I started to give it some thought I ended up with a coach or two listed every year. The first year I started this series, I had Head Coach Lovie Smith, the then defensive coordinator at #6, and the then d-line coach Rod Marinelli at #8. Last year I had Mike Martz at #7 and Martz has already made an appearance in this years list at #9. Joining Martz this year is fellow offensive coach and o-line guru, Mike Tice.
Why is Tice so important? It's his job to refurbish last years weakest link (the offensive line) into something that won't get Jay Cutler killed. He has to get the best out of 2nd year tackle J'Marcus Webb and work in rookie Gabe Carimi. And possibly figure out a side swap with the two of them. He's charged with turning potential bust Chris Williams into a serviceable guard. He has to get the continuity where he needs it, so the line will let Mike Martz open his playbook up a little bit.
Last season the line gelled as the season wore on, but it still was what one would call... bad. Their run blocking and pass blocking improved from game 1 to game 16, but there is still a long way to go. I'd love it, and so would Tice I'm sure, if a free agent were signed. But even if someone is brought in, it's still on Tice to get him up to speed with the various protection schemes and terminology that Martz uses. The Bears can't win any titles if the line dosen't improve, and that's on Tice to figure out.