Tice stressing communication with Cutler, skill players
BOURBONNAIS — The lasting impression of the Jay Cutler-Mike Martz relationship is of the quarterback caught on camera late in the 2011 season, shouting into his headphone something to the effect of: "Tell Mike I said to (buzz) off."
Except he didn't say, "buzz."
Cutler probably won't have similar snap sessions with Mike Tice, Martz's successor as the Bears' offensive coordinator.
For openers, Tice seems more receptive to input from his players, and specifically Cutler, than the dictator-like Martz.
"We want to know what he likes," Tice said, regarding play-calling. "I think it's very important to have a line of communication with the quarterback and the running back and the wide receivers. Why call things they're not comfortable with?"
"If we're calling things they're not comfortable with, they're not going to make the tough throws. If we're calling runs the running back doesn't like he's not going to hit it up in there.
"If we're calling routes the receiver doesn't like to run he's not going to run it with any type of authority or any type of confidence. So I think it's important across the board to have a great line of communication between the players and the coaches."
This year Cutler has the freedom to change plays at the line of scrimmage, something forbidden under Martz.
He also has as his quarterbacks coach Jeremy Bates, an offensive assistant with the Broncos for all three years he was in Denver. Bates already knows what plays work best for Cutler and which don't, something Tice is still learning.
But there's not doubt that Tice is the final authority.
"I've got a little bit of input," Cutler said with a smile. "Not much, but I've got a few things that I whisper in his ear, and he's always receptive of it.
"At the end of the day, we're going to do what's best offensively for us. No matter if a rookie has the idea, Mike has the idea or Jeremy or me; whatever's going to work against a given defense we're going to use it."
If you read between the lines there, the implication is that the Bears aren't going to run a play just because the offensive coordinator likes it. And the option to audible gives Cutler the opportunity to put the offense in better positions to succeed.
"I think it makes everyone's jobs a little bit easier because we can put ourselves in a good play," the quarterback said.
"If we've got something bad and the defense is going to take it over, then we can go ahead and audible and get out of it and get into something that hopefully we can execute."
It all comes back to putting players in positions to succeed and not asking them to do things they're incapable of doing. Of course there are guidelines, and there are a set package of audible plays.
"We have a tremendous line-of-scrimmage package — as much as anybody," Tice said. "We have guidelines for that line-of-scrimmage package.
"We want to make sure that (Cutler) stays within the guidelines, and he's been doing a great job. All the quarterbacks have been doing a great job with it, an excellent job. I'm very pleased with it."
After Monday's day off, the offense actually looked a little ragged Tuesday afternoon.
Cutler was picked off by cornerbacks Tim Jennings and Charles Tillman, and there was little evidence of the big-play passing game that's provided early highlights in camp.
But neither were there any instances of the quarterback cussing out the offensive coordinator, which was nice.
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