Bears offensive line coach Mike Tice provided some real insight, in my opinion, on the communication problems that contributed to protection issues last week. I thought he made some very interesting points, and I felt I learned something. Check it out for yourselves:
"The center lines them all up, and changes the calls. But, there's times when different guys work to different guys. There are some protections where it's only us five guys, and we're trying to sort out the five guys that we think are the most dangerous. Well, when [opponents are] moving around, doing those things, those five guys change, guys see 'em differently. If you communicate, you can see it the same. Some of that went on in the game."
It sounds like the inexperienced right side of the line may be the primary culprits. The right tackle is J'Marcus Webb, a seventh round pick, and the right guard is Edwin Williams, an undrafted player in 2009 who initially signed with the Bears practice squad in September.
Neither of those players did a very good job of verbalizing what they were seeing, Tice said.
"There's a reason sometimes, young linemen look like they don't know what they're doing because, usually, they don't. They're growing," he said.
"One guy sees it, and doesn't pass it along, it kind of hurts the mesh of things," he separately said. "The more they play together, the more they get confidence in what they're seeing, and when they believe what they see, they'll be able to blurt those things out."
Tice said the young players sometimes lack the confidence of trusting their instincts.
"On the field," Tice said, "they don't speak because they're not positive they know what they know what they think they know that they know, and unfortunately, if they would just believe themselves, they'd be right, nine out of 10 times."
But, this isn't entirely a surprise to Tice or the other coaches.
"We knew that when we went with the young guys, that we were going to have some pains," he said.
But that's why Tice -- and Bears coach Lovie Smith on Monday -- stressed the importance of trying to keep the starters in tact.
That's particularly important on the offensive line.
"Communication things hurt us," Tice said. "We just got to hear the play called, and block the play better."
Moving forward, Tice said the key is to find what his players do well and continue to challenge them to improve.
"It's early in the season," he said. "We're fortunate to be 4-2, as poorly as we've played at times, up front. But you have to look at the tape and see the good things. I thought in the second half [against the Seattle Seahawks], we protected our butts off."
Finally, Tice downplayed any issues between him and offensive coordinator Mike Martz.
Asked about their relationship, he said, "Fantastic.
"We're trying to work through who we are. We're trying to work through together, what we can ask the guys to do, not just in the o-line but across the board."