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updated: 11/3/2010 7:50 PM

Bears' Tice has interesting theory on 'winning football'

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  • Chicago Bears offensive line coach Mike Tice is seen before an NFL football game Monday, Sept. 27, 2010, in Chicago.

    Chicago Bears offensive line coach Mike Tice is seen before an NFL football game Monday, Sept. 27, 2010, in Chicago.


Remember Trident's commercials that claimed four out of five dentists recommend sugarless gum for their patients?

It made sense and sounded good, but what did it actually mean?

In that vein, Bears offensive line coach Mike Tice recommended Wednesday that four out of his five offensive linemen need to play "winning football" in order for the Bears to win games.

Like all good ad men selling a message, Tice added a fine-print disclaimer.

"What we have to do is have four guys grade out ... winning football, we'll win a lot of football games," Tice said.

"If we don't turn the ball over."

Considering the Bears turned over the ball six times in their most recent half, that sounds like a big if.

Tice had other tangents to this theory: three winning linemen can win you some games ... you can't expect five linemen to play winning football at the same time ... two linemen won't win you many games.

All of these formulas beg the basic question: How many Bears linemen have been playing winning football?

Tice didn't divulge that number, but admitted it isn't as large as he was led to believe by the team's OTA workouts.

"(Improvement) happens when they play," Tice said. "You look at the off-season, coming out of the OTA days, in shorts I thought I had a bunch of guys ready to rock-and-roll.

"Then you put shoulder pads on and some of those guys you saw flying around there in shorts, you're like, 'Where did they go?' You're looking around for them and they disappeared."

That sounds like an indictment of some younger linemen, which means Roberto Garza's return comes at a crucial time.

The 10-year veteran started the first five games at left guard before missing two games while healing from arthroscopic knee surgery. Garza resurfaces as the Bears' right guard, the place where he started the previous four seasons.

"Now I feel great, but obviously I haven't done much," Garza said before Wednesday's full-pads workout. "So we'll see how I practice."

Apparently he looked swell because Lovie Smith gushed about Garza afterward.

"I told him today, he looked like he looked it seems like five years ago," Smith said. "It's always good to get a veteran player back, you know, to solidify the line a little bit. If he's one of the guys that's playing."

It's not an "if" in Tice's mind. He said Garza was one of the guys playing winning football "for the most part" before he stepped aside for the surgery.

Not only does he solve a position that has been shared by youngsters Lance Louis and Edwin Williams, he offers help for rookie right tackle J'Marcus Webb.

"J'Marcus is getting close (to playing winning football) even without Roberto there," Tice said. "And with Roberto there, I think it's going to help him settle down in some areas.

"I think the biggest area it will help him settle down is third down when all the (crud) is happening. All the walking around and the shifting and the this and the that.

"A young guy starts jumping at stuff that's moving. (Roberto) will settle him down."

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