It appears to be force-fed unity and continuity. Find your five starters RIGHT NOW, name them, let them know you believe in them as a line, which is a team within a team and requires similar bonding, and let them know everybody is relying on them.
On the surface, Tice’s idea makes a lot of sense after last year’s crimes against Cutler. The Bears had five different starting lineups in the first eight games last season, Cutler suffered a concussion and missed a game, the playcalling was insane bordering on indictment for manslaughter.
NFC Championship Game, continuity worked.
But, oops, there’s a problem. When last we saw the Bears play for real, they opened the NFC Championship Game left-to-right with Frank Omiyale, Williams, Olin Kreutz, Garza and Webb.
Omiyale is a backup now, Kreutz is famously gone, Garza and Webb moved to their left, which leaves only Williams in the position he played last season.
Wait, you’re kidding: Continuity hanging on the Bears’ worst lineman?
Williams, of course, has experience, which puts him ahead of the right side of the line of Louis and Carimi, so it might sound harsh to call him the worst lineman, but in getting that experience, Williams also provided evidence of how bad he is.
The bad you know, apparently, is the bad you can coach. This is Tice’s version of a hurry-up offense for the offensive line, which also seems to be a function of the lockout that wiped out minicamps and offseason team activities that traditionally give coaches several chances to evaluate players and units.
So, Tice, a big guy with a big voice, is backing his guys in a big way. Until this weekend, perhaps, when one lineman likely will “falter.’’ At least one.
I’m taking Williams in the “Falter Pool,’’ and then Louis moves to left guard, Garza goes back to right guard, and free-agent Chris Spencer becomes the center. What, you thought the Bears spent millions on a replacement for Kreutz to serve as a backup?
And then Tice will say his new group will start in the opener against Atlanta, unless of course one of them falters. Lather, rinse, repeat.
Which brings us to one of the biggest risks in Tice’s play here. If the line “falters,’’ if Cutler gets hurt again, Tice will get torched for eliminating the backups’ motivation and the starters’ fear. It will appear as though Tice gambled and lost. I don’t expect that it would cost Tice his job, but I suspect it would spark a return to what we in my country call “competition.’’