Bears Promote Tice to Offensive Coordinator

(Reuters) – The Chicago Bears have promoted offensive line coach Mike Tice to offensive coordinator to replace Mike Martz, who parted ways with the club earlier this week, the National Football League (NFL) team said on Friday.

Tice, who played in the NFL for 14 seasons and has spent 16 seasons as a coach, served as head coach of the Minnesota Vikings from 2001-05.

A proponent of a strong running game, Tice will call the plays and continue to work with the offensive line, while the team will look for a new quarterbacks coach to assist with the passing game.

The Bears dropped five of their last six games after starting quarterback Jay Cutler was lost to injury to finish with an 8-8 record.

(Reporting by Larry Fine in New York; Editing by Gene Cherry)

Smith Survives Housecleaning by the Bears

Now Angelo is out. Coach Lovie Smith, however, will remain. Angelo was fired Tuesday after a team collapse marked by injuries to quarterback Jay Cutler and running back Matt Forte and a drug scandal involving receiver Sam Hurd.

Angelo had been on the job 11 years, but the Bears called for change after an 8-8 season. A questionable draft record and an inability to fill big holes, particularly on offense, led to his ouster.

The Bears also confirmed that the offensive coordinator Mike Martz and the quarterbacks coach Shane Day would not be back.

REID IS RETURNING Jeffrey Lurie, the Eagles’ chairman, said Coach Andy Reid would return for his 14th season in Philadelphia, though he left open the possibility for changes on the coaching staff.

The Eagles (8-8) were strong favorites to reach the Super Bowl after winning the N.F.C. East title last year and adding several accomplished players in the off-season.

But they started 1-4 and were 4-8 before closing with four wins against nonplayoff teams.

FISHER TALKS TO DOLPHINS Jeff Fisher interviewed for the Dolphins’ coaching job and is thought to be Miami’s top choice. But competition from other teams may be fierce. Tampa Bay and St. Louis fired their coaches Monday, increasing to five the number of such vacancies.

TURNER STAYS The San Diego Chargers’ president, Dean Spanos, has decided to keep Coach Norv Turner and General Manager A. J. Smith despite the 8-8 team’s missing the playoffs for the second straight season. If the Chargers had had one more win, they would have earned the A.F.C. West title.

VIKINGS PROMOTE SPIELMAN Minnesota elevated Rick Spielman to general manager, the first move in what will be a key off season toward reviving a team that matched the worst record in franchise history at 3-13. Spielman was promoted from vice president for player personnel. He will now have final authority over all roster decisions.

 

THE FIFTH DOWN; Adjust the Contrast: Bears Are in Focus; Chargers Are a Blur

Chargers (4-5) at Bears (6-3)

Sunday, 4:15 p.m.

Line: Bears by 3.5 .

Lovie Smith does not get the credit he deserves. His coaching staff is filled with temperamental geniuses who have impulse control issues. The offense is loaded with divas: when Roy Williams comes across as normal, you know you are dealing with some Timothy Leary-level team chemistry. On paper, Smith’s blitzed-up take on the stodgy Cover-2 defense, built around the talents of 30-something linebackers, looks about as dangerous as a Toyota Celica with mag wheels. This is a team that strives to beat opponents with punt returns, for heaven’s sake. Yet Smith has coaxed winning records out of this collection of disparate parts and quarrelsome personalities four times in the last six years, and he currently has a team that was universally overlooked in the preseason in the thick of the wild-card race.

Norv Turner has also mixed playoff runs with .500 seasons during his Chargers tenure, but he has done so under much more favorable conditions: his division is much softer, he has an indisputable franchise quarterback and he does not have to hold the reins on assistants like Mike Martz. Turner needs everything to break right to win, and this year nothing has. The Chargers’ offensive line has been torn apart by injuries, with Marcus McNeill (neck) and Louis Vasquez (foot) unlikely to play Sunday and the All-Pro Kris Dielman (concussion) out for the year. Philip Rivers’ mysterious slump is not so mysterious when his blockers are Brandyn Dombrowski and Scott Mruczkowski and his receivers include castoffs like Patrick Crayton. Turner cannot win when his quarterback is throwing interceptions, whereas Smith is only now learning what it is like to win otherwise: that is as clear a contrast as you need between these two teams. Pick: Bears.

Eagles (3-6) at Giants (6-3)

Sunday, 8:20 p.m.

Line: Giants by 4 .5.

Andy Reid’s Traveling Cautionary Tale Tent Revival has arrived in town, and we are celebrating with a trivia quiz! Match the following Eagles Dream Teamers – a.) Nnamdi Asomugha, b.) Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, c.) Steve Smith, d.) Ronnie Brown, e.) Vince Young, f.) Jason Babin – with their unique accomplishments this season:

1.) I chase receivers with the enthusiasm of a teenager walking to the principal’s office after a food fight. 2.) My quarterback rating of 0.0 is lower than the punter’s, and I may be starting on Sunday! 3.) I line up offsides when not inexplicably covering Cardinals receivers not named Larry Fitzgerald. 4.) I am among the league leaders with nine penalties this season. 5.) I crumple untouched after catches in the open field as if the yellow television first-down line is real and made of plutonium. 6.) I throw the ball straight into the air while being tackled at the goal line.

There is also an essay: Explain how Andy Reid can simultaneously justify a 42-16 pass-run ratio when Michael Vick (questionable) has broken ribs and grow testy when his reasoning is questioned.

The answers: 1-b, 2-e, 3-a, 4-f, 5-c, 6-d. If you need reasons why Giants General Manager Jerry Reese did not dive headfirst into the free-agent pool this off-season, here are six of them. The Reid essay has no right answer.

Standard warning: the Eagles, like poorly-constructed playground equipment, can still be dangerous. Pick: Giants.

Buccaneers (4-5) at Packers (9-0)

Sunday, 1 p.m.

Line: Packers by 14.

Like a flabby Hope Diamond, Albert Haynesworth is a fascinating, oversized trinket that brings nothing but misery to anyone foolish enough to acquire him. The Buccaneers signed Haynesworth and immediately inserted him into their defensive line; the results were 185 yards rushing allowed and a 37-9 loss. The Patriots, meanwhile, improved as soon as they rid themselves of Haynesworth. That is not scientific proof that Haynesworth is cursed, but perhaps he should be placed in the Smithsonian until there are further studies.

Aaron Rodgers has thrown just 18 incomplete passes in the last three games. One of those passes was a spike to stop the clock, three were throws out of bounds and four were dropped by open receivers. Count the drops as completions and take away the spike, and Rodgers’ completion percentage in the last three weeks is 84.7 percent. Some football stat-heads will tell you that completion percentage is a meaningless metric. That is true about 84.7 percent of the time. Pick: Packers.

Titans (5-4) at Falcons (5-4)

Sunday, 4:15 p.m.

Line: Falcons by 6.