First reported by the Chicago Tribune, the Oakland Raiders have requested permission to interview Chicago Bears’ offensive coordinator Mike Tice for their head coaching vacancy. The request is merely a formality, as, per league rule, the Bears would not be allowed to block Tice, seeing as the request is for a head coaching position. ESPN’s Michael Wright reports that Tice will indeed interview for the position next Tuesday, January 24th.
Former Green Bay Packers’ director of football operations Reggie McKenzie was recently hired as Oakland’s new general manager, and he made wholesale changes in quite a hurry, firing head coach Hue Jackson. McKenzie did say, however, that he already had a “short list” of coaches lined up as potential replacements. While Winston Moss, Green Bay’s assistant head coach, still seems to be the favorite to win the job, it’s not known if McKenzie has any personal ties to Tice.
Tice, 52, served as the head coach of the Minnesota Vikings from 2002-2005 (interim in 2001), leading the Vikings to winning seasons two of his four years, while setting franchise records for rushing attempts and rushing yardage. Prior to his head coaching role, Tice served as the Vikings’ offensive line coach. When he left the franchise in 2006, he accepted a position with the Jacksonville Jaguars as their assistant head coach/tight ends coach.
The Bears hired Tice in 2010, and he’s been credited with turning a bottom-of-the-league offensive line into a somewhat serviceable group. Recently, the Bears promoted Tice to their offensive coordinator role, shortly after parting ways with Mike Martz over—as cited—“philosophical differences.” The Bears blocked Tice from interviewing for the Tennessee Titans’ open offensive coordinator position last season.
With Tice, a known offensive line/rushing guru, the Bears had made plans to hire a “passing coordinator” to help with the aerial aspect of the team’s offensive attack. The only known candidate to have interviewed for that position is former Buccaneers’ offensive coordinator Greg Olson. If Tice should be successful in his search for a head coaching position in Oakland, it may mean the bears would not have to hire a passing coordinator and simply hire an offensive coordinator to run both aspects.
The loss of Tice would certainly be a big hit to the Bears, who had said Mike would still have a significant hand in the offensive line, but it would not be a fatal blow by any means. There’s still a lot to play out here, but the offseason structure and plan the Bears had initially had hoped for, may have a few bumps down the road.