Not much to report today, actually, but I did have an interesting conversation with Mike Tice, who doesn’t believe the Bears need to add a veteran offensive linemen.
That led to the following story:
Don’t count Mike Tice among those clamoring for the Bears to sign a veteran offensive lineman. In fact, the new Bears’ offensive line coach said adding a veteran can hurt more than help.
“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.
“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,” Tice said. “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.”
Tice was back doing what he loves best on the second day of the Bears three-day rookie minicamp at Halas Hall on Saturday. Last year, he coached the Jaguars tight ends and served as Jack Del Rio’s assistant head coach before leaping at the chance to return to his roots as an offensive line coach and instruct the Bears much-maligned unit.
“I graded the whole season last year and I didn’t see the line as the only problem, and we’ll leave it at that,” Tice said when asked if a line that appeared to be a weakness last season could turn into a strength despite few personnel changes. “Everybody on the offense needs to improve — coaches, players, play-calling, the whole thing.”
One of the areas of perceived need that has received little attention is the offensive line. Blocking tight end Brandon Manumaleuna should add bite to the running game. Other than that, however, the only addition has been seventh-round draft pick J’Marcus Webb and rookie free-agents Tim Walter, a center, and tackle Levi Horn.
The biggest concern is at left guard. Josh Beekman, Lance Louis and second-year guard John Asiata appear to be the leading candidates to replace Frank Omiyale, who moves to right tackle. There’s a chance the Bears might sign Dolphins guard Justin Smiley when and if he becomes available. They could also stand pat, which is fine with Tice.
“Everybody who can walk and talk is going to get a chance to prove they can be the starting left guard,” Tice said. “Right now, we’re putting in the way we want to do things — hands, footwork and assignments. We’re not going to know who is going to be our starting left guard until we get pads on.”
Tice spend most of Saturday’s practice on a far corner of the practice field, just him, his linemen and a blocking sled. It is what he loves to do.
“I’m 51 years old,” he said when asked why he wanted to coach linemen again “You don’t know how long you’re going to do it. You want to go back to being a teacher. Coaching tight ends and being assistant head coach in Jacksonville was wonderful. Jack and I are very close. Obviously, I had his ear and helped him with evaluations. He would run the schedule by me. I’d do anything he asked me to do.
“Here, I’m back to coaching a lot of guys, and getting a chance to teach and have an impact and be a teacher. That’s what I am, really. My wife will tell you, I wake up in the morning teaching, coaching my kids, my cat, my dog and whoever is standing next to me”
Webb, the cousin of former Dolphins standout Richmond Webb, is 6-foot-8, weighs 338 pounds, has 36-inch arms and wears size 19 shoes.
“He’s been picking up things pretty well,” Bears coach Lovie Smith said of Webb. “You can’t get too high or too low with these types of practices but you don’t want to see a lineman come in who is a big-step guy who can’t move. You definitely won’t say that about him. He’s a big athlete.”
Quarterbacks Dan LeFevour and Juice Williams looked a lot better during Day 2, by the way. Not having winds gusting up to 30 m.p.h helped, no doubt.