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Grizzly Detail Coach of the Year

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    NEWSLETTERS

    With a staff full of former head coaches, Lovie Smith was assisted by one of the most experienced staffs in the NFL, and they each played a unique part in the Bears season. Who truly shined?

    Rod Marinelli -- He had a tough time as a head coach in Detroit, but has found his home with the Bears. The defensive coordinator fine tuned the Bears defense, with its stars, role players and able back-ups, into one of the league's best defenses. Marinelli rotated players to maintain the unit's health as well as use the best player for each situation. He quickly learned how to take advantage of Julius Peppers' freakish athleticism, and used it to benefit every player on defense.

    Mike Martz
    -- From his first meeting with Jay Cutler, the offensive coordinator found a kindred spirit. That didn't translate onto the field at first, but the coach adjusted to his quarterback's strengths and helped the team steer out of a bad losing skid. He also learned to utilize Matt Forte, and kept opponents guessing on who would be Cutler's favorite target. His play calling wasn't always perfect, but he also found a comfortable home running the Bears offense.

    Mike Tice -- The offensive line coach had a task that read like the plot of a movie: how do you take a rag-tag group of aging vets and inexperienced rookies and turn them into a line fit to protect the QB? It didn't start out well for Tice. Before they bye week, Jay Cutler was sacked 27 times. But once they found a consistent line from week to week, they improved by leaps and bounds. Again, they weren't perfect, and Cutler's sacks per game started to creep up again at the end of the season and in the playoffs, but what Tice brought the best out of the players he had. What more does a coach need to do?

    Dave Toub
    -- It's rare that a special teams coordinator gets any notice, but the Bears special teams unit is rare. Toub made his players believe that special teams are just as important as offense and defense, and because of that, they WERE just as important as the other phases. The Bears were among the league's best at pinning their opponents inside the 20, led the league in punt return averages and featured Devin Hester's record-breaking returns.

    And the winner is ...

    Mike Tice. The offensive line coach was handed lemons and made some lemonade.