This week has brought some closure to the coaching staff searches but also raised a lot of questions; why Jeremy Bates after he was at first eliminated before the search began? And why didn't he get the passing game coordinator title? Then even more questions were raised, like can Mike Tice even call passing plays? Does Tice even know what a pass looks like? Is he qualified for the position he has?
Well I am here to look at some of these questions and see if I can draw some conclusions about what the offense will look like and how, in fact, the Bears' offensive staff will develop and call plays.
For example, the Arizona Cardinals list a running-game coordinator/offensive line/assistant head coach and a passing-game coordinator and no offensive coordinator. I assume this means head coach Ken Whisenhunt calls plays but one of the other two could too. What difference does it make?
Then there are the Green Bay Packers, who for the last few seasons have had an offensive coordinator in Joe Philbin who didn't even call plays, that duty lies with head coach Mike McCarthey.
So let's not get too bogged down in the details, the Bears are just stream-lining the whole thing, Mike Tice calls plays and is the head honcho of the offense. Jeremy Bates coaches the quarterbacks and no doubt will have some input on the passing game.
Football is a team sport, right down to the coaching staff. They all have to work together to get the best results out of the players on the field. Tice has had to work with the notoriously stubborn Mike Martz the last two years and the well-documented "sit-downs," "interventions," or whatever else you want to call them, that attempted to reign in Martz no doubt taught Tice a valuable lessons, such as, oh hey I better actually listen to my assistants.
Tice doesn't strike me as a dude who is going to suddenly go rogue, let the "coordinator" title go to his head and suddenly parade around and do as he pleases with no input from assistants. He's learned the hard way the last two years, he seems to have a very good idea of what kind of talent he has and what he needs to do to get the most from the group.
With that being said, what will the Bears offense look like? Most people think they will go back to the run-first "get off the bus" mentality that Lovie Smith goes on about. Or will they?
I was looking at Pro-football-reference.com and checking out the offenses of the Minnesota Vikings when Mike Tice was head coach (and not the offensive coordinator I should stress). Since he wasn't the play-caller it's hard to say what he would've done differently but it should be noted that if he didn't like what his offenses did he clearly would have had the power to change it.
Anyway, in his four seasons as coach the Vikings ranked, in order, eighth, sixth, sixth and 19th in points and second, first, fourth and 25th in yards offensively. In those years their pass/run ratio broke down as follows; 558 pass attempts to 473 rush attempts, 520/493, 552/387 and 510/381. So that is roughly one and a half times as many passes as runs. So before we get this notion that Tice is going to run a Denver Broncos-Tebow type offense, I don't buy it. It should be much more balanced than we've seen the last couple years and much more balanced than his Vikings offenses were, to be sure. Matt Forte is a much better running back than any of the leading rushers Tice had in Minney; Michael Bennett, Moe Williams, Onterrio "Whizzinator" Smith and Mewelde Moore.
In fact, Forte is probably better than all of those guys combined. Tice also had Culpepper and Randy Moss on the passing-game side. The Bears don't have anything close to a Randy Moss-type receiver.
When Bates was with Cutler in Denver, the Broncos had a 60/40-ish pass run split. I don't think we'll see that either, but an offense that has a good mix of each, and, depending on what additions are made at receiver this offseason, it could favor the pass just a bit more. Balance and keeping the defenses guessing, that is going to be the Bears' identity, I believe.
It should be fun to watch and I hold no reservations about Mike Tice being in charge of a passing game. Some of the media is acting like he's never been involved in a game with forward passes. That's ridiculous. The Bears are going to be fine with Tice and Bates leading the offense.