ATLANTA, GA- The previous Chicago Bears offensive line coach, Mike Tice, has been hired by the Atlanta Falcons on Wednesday as they attempt to rebuild the team’s commitment to handle the power football aspect of the game.
Heads have already begun to roll as Arthur Blank has terminated the contracts of previous offensive line coaches Pat Hill and Paul Dunn. Along with them is the defensive line coach Ray Hamilton. Mike Smith feels comfortable with Tice due to their previous relations in Jacksonville where Smith was the defensive coordinator until he was hired for the head coach position by the Falcons in 2008. Tice was an assistant head coach from 2006-2009 with extensive experience with the offensive line.
Tice brings plenty of NFL experience with 17 years under his belt. He was released from Chicago last January due to the organization hiring Marc Trestman as his replacement. Tice’s resume is impressive but at the same time underwhelming. His win-loss record as a head coach is 32-33 and was 1-1 in the playoffs. The 2010 offensive line in Chicago, which wasn’t entirely his fault due to Mike Martz’s overzealous play calling, gave up an embarrassing 56 sacks which led the league that year.
Many may argue this move is a side grade instead of an upgrade. Pat Hill was a coach at Fresno State for 15 years before taking the offensive line job with the Falcons in 2012. Before his college stint, Hill was an offensive line coach for both the old Cleveland Browns under Bill Belichick and the Baltimore Ravens. (AKA the new Browns) Trading one experience coach for another may just be a superficial move to some but to me it resembles something much deeper.
It represents fear.
In the subconscious minds of the players the changing of coaches can change the entire psyche and how those players bond with each other as well as the new coach. Maybe Pat Hill and Paul Dunn are actually fundamentally better coaches than Mike Tice, but with an awful 2013 season players are ready to forget it ever happened. That’s why management cleans house; to remove the stench of the dead body of a lost season. Sure we will always remember those that have contributed to the organization but the team has to move on to better seasons with only the experience gained from those seasons as a reminder.
The younger players on the line such as Peter Konz, Lamar Holmes, and Ryan Schraeder will have to prove themselves all over again to the new coach. I have high hopes for the undrafted rookie in Schraeder as he gained valuable experience this season as the line seemed to disintegrate in front of millions of fans every week. That will be a bonding point for this team in future seasons. On that point Lamar Holmes could become a great leader for this team in a few years if he can weather the storm of the offseason.
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