Mike Tice’s conservative style suiting Bears’ offense
BY ADAM L. JAHNS email@example.com December 6, 2012 10:10PM
CHICAGO, IL - DECEMBER 02: Brandon Marshall #15 of the Chicago Bears catches a pass in front of Brandon Browner #39 of the Seattle Seahawks at Soldier Field on December 2, 2012 in Chicago, Illinois. The Seahawks defeated the Bears 23-17 in overtime. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Updated: January 8, 2013 6:32AM
It was a case of the Bears’ offense being in rhythm or close to it.
Max protection was used, Jay Cutler’s dropbacks were short and his passes were quick. Matt Forte and Michael Bush plowed away on numerous carries.
It was a game plan by offensive coordinator Mike Tice that led to an efficient 28-10 victory against the Vikings two weeks ago. And the Bears likely will turn to it again — with a few wrinkles — in Minneapolis.
“We’ve got to be able to run the ball efficiently like we did last time [and] keep ourselves in manageable third downs,” Tice said. “That’s the key to the game.”
But will it work again in a noisy dome?
“We went back and put a clock on it,” said Vikings defensive end Jared Allen, whose aggressive pass rush was eliminated. “I think there were only two or three times the whole game he held the ball more than about 21/2 seconds. That intermediate passing game was clutch for them. And then they did some things bootlegging and max-protecting from different looks, chipping in and out with the tight ends and the running backs, and that makes it tough.”
The Bears ran the ball 39 times — 55 percent of their plays — and Cutler attempted 21 passes under 10 yards. They meticulously drove down the field and kept the Vikings off-balance, which turned into success on third down.
The pressure is on Cutler and Co. to perform with the defense missing Brian Urlacher (hamstring) and likely Tim Jennings (shoulder) this week or longer. They fell short against the Seahawks, but Cutler said he’s happy with the time he has been given by the offensive line, which will remain the same, and Tice’s play-calling.
“[The offensive line is] playing better,” Cutler said. “I don’t know if it’s because I’m yelling at them more or what’s happening. But guys are playing well. We’re getting rid of the ball quickly. I think we have good game plans going into it. Mike’s done a great job of mixing it up and spinning the play-calling and keeping teams off-balance.”
Receiver Brandon Marshall’s ability to make catches in tight coverage was crucial in their last meeting. He expects the same from the Vikings, who rely on the cover-2 like the Bears.
“The thing that stood out the most when we played them was, as soon as you catch the ball, they’re right on you,” Marshall said.