The Big Question: Impact assistant?

What NFC North assistant coach will make the biggest impact in 2010?

I started wondering about that question while reading about the career and death of longtime NFL assistant Bob Karmelowicz, who coached Detroit's defensive line last season and carried a well-deserved reputation for improving established players. A number of candidates come to mind, but I can't think of any who sits in the position of Chicago offensive line coach Mike Tice.

Tice has assumed responsibility for a group that admittedly underperformed in 2009 but will still return four of its starters. Center Olin Kreutz hopes that offseason surgery to remove bone spurs from his ankle will help him return to form. But for the most part, the Bears are counting on Tice to elevate this group based on technical adjustments and a new brand of motivation.

The arrival of new offensive coordinator Mike Martz has been heavily discussed. But for the Bears' offense to improve in 2010, Tice will have to find a way to make Frank Omiyale a productive player at right tackle. He'll have to develop a left guard, be it Josh Beekman or Lance Louis or even journeyman tackle Kevin Shaffer. And he'll have to do it in an offense that typically favors the passing game.

Minnesota defensive end Jared Allen remembered Karmelowicz as a coach who taught him how to use his natural abilities to play at an elite level. The Bears are hoping for a similar impact from Tice.