Both Sean Jensen at the Chicago Sun-Times and Brad Biggs at the Chicago Tribune are reporting that the Tennessee Titans might have an interest in hiring Bears offensive line coach Mike Tice as their offensive coordinator.
Some interesting aspects to this:
1) New head coach Mike Munchak was the offensive line coach there and he would certainly see Tice’s value to the team as a replacement for himself. However Tice’s value as a coordinator is debatable.
Though he is definitely a leader of men and he would make a fine head coach, there’s been very little evidence that he would make a good X’s and O’s man. He seemed to recognize the value of the tight ends that he had in Minnesota and he knew how to use them. But I’m guessing that he had very little to do with designing any kind of a complex passing game involving multiple route combinations beyond creating some individual mismatches.
2) Lovie Smith and the Bears must give the Titans permission to contact Tice about the job. Ordinarily this is a no brainer. Smith has always been supportive of assistants who were seeking to advance and it would take an extraordinary circumstance, indeed, to prevent him from doing that. This might be that circumstance.
The Bears offensive line is a work in progress. Tice has been crucial to the training of young players such as J’Marcus Webb and Lance Louis. To lose him now would be a blow to thier development. In addition, the Bears are likely to add at least two more linemen to the mix over the next few months, at least one of whom may be a draft pick. Those linemen will need to be indoctrinated in the Bears offensive system.
But I don’t think that these factors would ultimately cause Smith to hold Tice back if it weren’t for one more major difficulty, as Biggs describes it:
“In mid-February, it would be difficult for the Bears to find a replacement for Tice, who Smith and general manager Jerry Angelo have called one of the league’s best line coaches. Most of the coach shuffling is complete so the pool of candidates isn’t deep.”
This may be part of the reason why the New York Jets denied the Titans permission to talk to offensive line coach/assistant head coach Bill Callahan. Tice is not an assistant head coach.
3) The fact that the Titans are looking to raid the Bears coaching staff rather than one of the Super Bowl staffs is as much of an indictment of Angelo as it is a compliment to Tice.
The Bears offensive line was roundly criticized and was generally believed to be one of the worst in the league. Its obvious that the Titans believe that Tice worked miracles with a talent depleted line and this offer is a general acknowledgement of this fact. Teams know that if Tice had any players to work with, the Bears offensive line would have been one of the best units, if not the best unit, in the NFL. Tice should be proud. Angelo should be ashamed.
Perhaps the Bears can offer Tice an assistant head coaching position and a bump in pay for him to stay. But if not, I think Smith knows what the right thing to do is. Generally speaking, you want the people around you to be happy. Good people do what they can to make that happen. If nothing else, on a professional level you want to make it so that other coaches and players around the league want to work for you. Long-term, that’s how you become the best.
Green Bay head coach Mike McCarthy was roundly criticized by this blogger when he held quarterbacks coach Tom Clements back from interviewing for the Bear offensive coordinator position. I would hate to see the Bears sink so low.