CHICAGO – Bears wide receiver Brandon Marshall has a pretty good idea about what his team’s offense will look like come this fall.
But asking Marshall to spill specific details about the new playbook is about as hopeless as trying to snatch a football out of his hands.
“Some of that stuff, you want to keep in house,” Marshall said with a smile during the Bears’ veteran minicamp this summer at Halas Hall. “The Green Bay Packers and Detroit Lions, we don’t want to give them too much time to prepare for what we’re trying to do.”
However, it’s no secret as to who will guide the offense.
The Bears promoted Mike Tice to offensive coordinator Jan. 6, only three days after the team parted ways with former offensive coordinator Mike Martz and former quarterbacks coach Shane Day. Tice’s promotion followed a two-year stint as the Bears’ offensive line coach, where he earned players’ and coaches’ praise for improving a blighted group.
After the Bears promoted Tice, coach Lovie Smith said the team also planned to hire a passing-game coordinator who would work with the quarterbacks. He backed off that stance a month later, hiring Jeremy Bates as quarterbacks coach without the passing-game title.
Ultimately, Smith said, he wanted one clear leader of the offense.
“I thought about a lot of different things, but in the end, I didn’t feel like we needed it,” Smith said. “We have a coordinator in Mike Tice. We don’t have a defensive run-game coordinator or anything like that, and I didn’t feel like we needed it [for the offense].”
Yet Bates is more qualified than a run-of-the-mill position coach. He most recently served as the Seattle
Seahawks’ offensive coordinator, and he was the Denver Broncos’ quarterbacks coach during Jay
Cutler’s lone Pro Bowl season in 2008, one year before the Bears acquired him.
That said, how much input will Bates have in the Bears’ passing game?
“Everybody will have input,” Smith said. “Jeremy Bates is our quarterbacks coach coming in. He’s been a coordinator in this league. I know what he’s done, and I know his history with Jay Cutler. I just didn’t feel like we needed any more titles.”
Under Martz, the Bears’ offense was more dictatorship than democracy. But Tice already has established himself as a communicator, accepting feedback from Bates as well as Cutler about fine-tuning the offense.
“I think Mike’s done a heck of a job,” Cutler said. “I think he’s got probably the hardest job of a lot of guys in this building, being able to mesh all of these offensive players with different schemes. …
“He’s got a tough gig, but he’s doing great. He’s listening to a lot of different guys and taking everyone’s opinion into consideration and trying to find the best solution.”
With everyone’s help, Tice said, the offense would benefit. Although he has not previously served as an offensive coordinator, he was the Minnesota Vikings’ head coach from 2002-04.
“The communication across the board has been fantastic,” Tice said. “Among the players, and between the coaches and the players, you see a good rapport, and that’s always important.
“At the end of the day, we’re all in it together and we’re all trying to do one thing, and that’s win the championship. We need them, they need us, and if we work together toward that goal, we’ll be successful.”