Chicago Sun-Times

Mike Tice re-opens LT battle between Webb, Williams

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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.''

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One of the reasons I love Tice as a coach. He is a breath of fresh air in the stifling Lovie Smith regime, where everyone is afraid to say anything that is not a tired cliche.

But the worst part is he is absolutely right. Spencer and Webb were horrid, but the others were not much better. I am glad Williams is getting the first team reps this week. J'Marcus just looks like he doesn't care, and why should he? Up until now, he has been gifted the position, and has done nothing to earn the job, unless having the most penalties in the league as an OL counts towards winning a job.

I still believe Carimi is the best OL we have, and needs to be in the most critical spot, but ideally he would stay on the right side, and we would have a decent option at LT. Since that does not appear to be the case, we are going to have to go TE heavy on the left, and motion away from the traditional strong side (where our best lineman is) to cover for weakness on the left side.

That is going to limit us offensively, but as long as it keeps Cutler upright, we should be ok.

Yeah Tice is a great quote and when it comes to line coaches he is very good. Marinelli is good too, but in both cases I feel the same about these guys. No matter how good a coach you are, you are only going to be as good as the talent you work with. They can help players out but they can't make those players talented, nobody can which is why I don;t like the whole coach them up theory. It really depends on who you have to coach. As a first time OC I am not really worried about him, at worst he has Bates behind him who knows how to call plays and has done it before. I really look at Tice as more of a Head coach on offense.

Breaking it down.

Webb, he's bad, he's really bad and lacks the nasty you want from linemen. Plays high, does not move his feet and is slow out of his stance.

Spencer, a typical stop gap vet, he does not excell at anything. I think he needs some time to get used to the left side. Decent run blocker but not a great run blocker at least not when your running power.

Garza, I think the Bears are happy with Garza cause he does just what they are asking him to. Call protection, don't mess up, snap the ball, helpout on double teams. Has never been a great blocker and struggles with power.

Louis, quick feet, nasty streak, strong for his size, really scrappy. But lacks any real technique. Plays out of control, struggles to counter players who know how to use leverage.

Carimi, is stil an injury concern. Has all pro talent for a RT but has next to no experience, and it's going to take some time for him to get his legs back. He is a year behind where he should be and we won't see the best of him for another year. If he stays healthy he will probably hit a wall not long after the midseason.

Chris Williams, he has never impressed me and that is with good reason. With Webb or Williams your going to need a lot of TE help on the left side. But at least with Williams I feel like he will do his best to protect Jay. I do not feel that way about Webb.

One problem I see is no anchor on the line. Plus no real leader at least not yet. You really need to anchors on a line, you need that guy whill protect the QB at LT, and you need a guy on the inside who is a monster blocker. They don't have either.

Tice said he wanted to run more of a power run game this year. That line did not open much in the way of holes and as Tice said his line got it's ### kicked. Which it did. I didn't expect much in pass pro, but in run I was surprised how much they struggled.

They have no left tackle, that's the problem. I still hope they get someone in after some of the cuts, there should be someone better than Webb or Williams. Otherwise, it's going to be a weird season offensively. Top talent at the skill positions without a line to block for them.

This line is not built for power run blocking, you've said so yourself. So why were you surprised that they had a hard time trying to do it? They didn't seem to try any of the pulling or counter plays that worked so well last season and which I'm sure they'll use again. I hope Tice is just blowing smoke when he says they want to power run, because this line can't do it.

The good out of a bad outing is the right side, it sounds like the Bears are set at right tackle and right guard. I've always believed in tackle Gabe Craimi, he was a first rounder for a reason. Its like Tice said, once he gets his legs under him (confidence), he's gonna be a good one. And Lance Louis brings a physicality inside like Chicago hasn't had in awhile. Louis came on last season filling in at right tackle, not his natural position, playing solid yet not spectacular football for the Bears at RT last season, he's gonna be even better inside.

Now the left I expected a lot more from J'Marcus Webb who was a major let down vs Denver. Chris Williams played solid, but on the right side, we'll see how he does on the left side vs quicker pass rushers? I thought Tice was done playing Williams on the lefts side. I've always been a big Chris Williams guy, maybe he's ready? Its not gonna take much to out do Webb.

Rookie James Brown let me down also, he got beat for a sack. Brown looks like he's gonna be a pretty good one on one blocker, and the sack he got beat for was more of a blown assignment, the back chipped on the play and Brown didn't realize and they bumped into each other and the end went right around them for a sack. Brown needs to learn his playbook better before he's ready for prime time.

As far as Chris Spencer, in his defense, he's playing on the left side, a side he's not use to. I'd give him a game or two to get use to playing left guard, he should be alright. I didn't like how he got blown back on one play, but hopefully with more time at the position getting more use to it he'll become more comfortable and play better, hopefully? Should be interesting GO BEARS!!

I just did not to expect them to struggle as much as they did. It's pretty self explanatory. Which part confused you? You know there are different levels of bad right? Maybe I expected 2.5 yards per carry instead of 1.5 or whatever the number was.

I mean it's pretty simple, I figure Tice wants to protect Cutler and slow down other teams offenses at the same time. That's why he wanted a run heavy offense. You can't sack Jay if he doesn't have the ball. Now with Martz you had a pass heavy offense and they worked mostly on pass blocking. Linemen are creatures of habit, I figured with the new offense they would be working on a lot of run blocking. So I figure they would improve in that area, maybe only a little but you would expect an improvment with Carimi back, Louis back inside, Spencer in place of Williams. But they sucked more than ever in every aspect of run blocking. I expected better, maybe not much better, but better none the less. So when they sucked more than ever, I was surprised.

Do you understand now? Now relax it was one pre-season game. Everyone is all twitchy after that loss.

I don't care about the loss, it was a practice game. But they got their butts kicked physically and that's a problem. You're right, I didn't expect them to look that bad either, it was disappointing.

But it was only the first preseason game and what I've heard from a reporter at camp is that the Bears are all saying they're going to the Super Bowl. Maybe they got overconfident and lacked the attitude they need, though I don't know how the O line could get that by the way they've played. We'll know a little more after the next game, though Lovie's teams don't show anything during preseason even compared to other teams, so we might not know til Sept 9.

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This page contains a single entry by Mark Potash published on August 13, 2012 2:20 PM.

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