If the Bears weren’t at Olivet Nazarene University, there might be a two-drink minimum for Mike Tice’s press conferences. Outside of Jay Cutler-to-Brandon Marshall, the Bears’ offensive coordinator is the most entertaining facet of training camp.
Of course, Tice has a big advantage, being a tell-it-like-it-is guy on a staff dominated by soft-spoken coaches who say little, reveal nothing and offend nobody. It’s like he’s following Pauly Shore at the comedy club.
At the very least, Tice acknowledges reality as well as any coach on the staff. He doesn’t throw anybody under the bus. But he knows that every so often he has to at least nudge somebody in its path. He sees the same game we do.
In fact, that was the phrase Tice used Monday when asked whether the left tackle position was open after J’Marcus Webb didn’t seem to establish himself in last week’s preseason opener against the Denver Broncos.
”I know it rained. Did you not go to the game? You went to the game, right?” Tice said, in a good-natured chiding of a reporter Monday. ”Ok. You saw the same thing I saw.
”I have trouble sleeping at night until I know our quarterback is protected. I am the coordinator, but I’m also the line coach. We have to make sure we’re protecting our quarterback.
”I do think at the end of the day we’ll be able to run the football. I know that with our protection schemes we can … make sure we’re getting the right guys help. We’re not necessarily doing that in preseason. We will for the Giants [preseason] game when we game plan. We want to see our guys compete and win more individual battles than they’re losing.”
The left tackle position remains unsettled. Chris Williams will get first-team reps in Saturday’s preseason game against the Washington Redskins at Soldier Field.
”Chris had a solid game [against the Broncos],” Tice said. ”I don’t feel like the other player was up to par, as far as the standards we’re trying to set to protect our quarterbacks. So we’re going to make sure that we continue to see who is going to emerge there as the guy.”
Tice was disappointed in the offense’s performance in the 31-3 loss to the Broncos.
”Physically we got our butts kicked,” Tice said. ”I think that was evident, more so with some guys than others. As an offense we [didn’t do] enough physically to make any type of statement. The biggest disappointment in all of it is that we didn’t run the ball. I thought from Day One of mini-camp we would be able to run the ball when we wanted to run the ball.
But right guard Lance Louis was a highlight. ”There were some guys that competed with great tenacity — Lance Louis, for example,” he said. ”I don’t think he’s going to back down from anybody this season.
[Gabe] Carimi is going to compete. And as his legs come underneath him more and more, he’s going to show up on the plus side for us.”
Carimi, in fact, is showing signs of improvement already in practice, Tice said. The entire line has, in fact.
”This week the guys bounced back,” Tice said. ”Real physical practices the first two days this week. I think we’ve gotten back to it. We’ve gotten better.
”I was really pleased [Sunday] with Gabe. He looked like the Carimi of last [year’s] camp. In the run game, very physical and as he gains confidence in the [rehabilitated] leg, he’ll continue to make great strides for us.”
But one area that has been overlooked is Chris Spencer at left guard. Spencer played well at right guard when Louis was moved to right tackle to replace the injured Carimi in Week 3. But he seemed to struggle against the Broncos.
“Very surprised,” Tice said. ”He had the second-highest grade for us last season. Although his style of play is not going to be like Gabe’s, everybody wants Chris Williams and Chris Spencer to be like Gabe. It’s two different styles. That’s why we have Gabe on the right-hand side. He’s a bruiser.
”But I was very surprised. It was not a good tape to watch. It’s certainly not a tape – and Chris knows this, we’ve spoken about that – it’s not a tape you want on your resume.”
Tice praised rookie wide receiver Alshon Jeffery, who has been impressive in camp and caught four passes in the preseason game. Tice said he expects Jeffery’s success in practice to carry over to the regular season.
”You got a little taste of what he’s about,” he said. ”If you’ve been out here for practice and watched the red-zone work, we’ve been doing a lot of red-zone work in this camp.
”Like my wife said to me yesterday: ‘Gosh, I see you guys score a lot of
touchdowns in the red zone.’ I said, ‘Yeah, we have some weapons.’ She said, ‘Well, why don’t you try getting down there a little bit more.’
”You got to love your wife, right? We went to high school together, so she’s allowed to say that. The worst part is my daughter is tougher; she’s a lot tougher.”