If the Bears are serious about closing the gap that exists between them and the Packers and Lions as soon as possible, offensive line coach Mike Tice should immediately be named the new offensive coordinator.
Tice's run-first philosophy is similar to coach Lovie Smith's "we get off the bus running" mantra.
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Even if Tice has a completely different playbook than Martz, his promotion would cause less disruption of the offense than bringing in an outsider, since he already has an intimate knowledge of the personnel and their strengths and weaknesses.
Tice has limited experience as a playcaller, but he has had extensive experience in game planning as head coach of the Minnesota Vikings for five years (2001-05) and later as assistant head coach/tight ends coach (2006-09) with the Jacksonville Jaguars.
There are a couple of other interesting candidates with Bears connections, although both had moved on before Smith took over in 2004.
•Greg Olson was Dick Jauron's quarterbacks coach in his final year (2003) with the Bears. Olson spent the past three seasons as the Tampa Bay Bucs' offensive coordinator and a year before that as the Bucs' quarterbacks coach.
But he was fired along with the rest of the staff after this season's 4-12 disaster. Before that Olson got high marks for his work in developing young quarterback Josh Freeman.
In 2010, his first season as a starter, Freeman threw 25 touchdown passes and just 6 interceptions. That year the Bucs set franchise records for average gain per play, average gain per run, average gain per pass, best passer rating and fewest interceptions.
•Todd Haley is another former Bears assistant out of work after he was fired as the Kansas City Chiefs' head coach during their disappointing 7-9 season.
But Haley guided K.C. to a 10-6 record in 2010, matching the Chiefs' win total for the previous three seasons combined.
Haley was the Bears' wide receivers coach from 2001-03, and he helped the Arizona Cardinals reach Super Bowl XLIII as offensive coordinator.
•Offensive coordinator Clyde Christensen is still under contract with the Indianapolis Colts, but after their 2-14 season, the entire staff could be fired soon.
Christensen, 55, and Lovie Smith worked on the same Buccaneers staff, and Christensen was the Bucs' offensive coordinator in 2001.
In his two seasons as the Colts' offensive coordinator, Christensen has experienced success and failure.
His offense surpassed 5,000 yards and 400 points in 2010 with Peyton Manning playing every game. But without Manning this season the Colts were 30th in the league in total offense at 286.8 yards per game.
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