Over the past three seasons, Rod Marinelli has run the defense of the Chicago Bears. With the departure of former head coach Lovie Smith and the arrival of new head coach Marc Trestman, the Bears’ defense now has to adjust to new defensive coordinator Mel Tucker.
Experience as a defensive coordinator isn’t lacking from Tucker’s resume. Spanning the past five years, Tucker has been the DC for the Cleveland Browns (2008) and the Jacksonville Jaguars (2009-12). Although Tucker has professional knowledge of this position, some of the numbers generated by defenses he’s spearheaded don’t look too attractive.
In 2011, Tucker’s Jaguars defense finished the year ranked sixth in overall defense. In this same season, Jacksonville forced 57 three-and-out drives (which was second most in the league), allowed 268 first downs (third fewest in the league), and surrendered 51 plays of 20-plus yards (third fewest in the league).
However, his four other seasons as a defensive coordinator weren’t as successful. During Tucker’s only year as DC in Cleveland, the Browns’ defense was ranked 26th. In 2009, 2010, and 2012, the Jaguars’ overall defense was 23rd, 28th, and 30th in the league respectively.
Chicago’s defense has always been the staple of their team, and has been the phase which has been the most consistent for the Bears over the years. Chicago always has one of the better run defenses, and this past season, the Bears’ defensive unit was ranked fifth.
Seeing defenses that Tucker has been in charge of being in the bottom half of the league’s rankings won’t give Bears fans much optimism. Personally, I am very uncertain of whether Chicago’s defense will be able to carry the team as everyone is accustomed to seeing.
The good news for the Bears is that Tucker runs a 4-3 defensive setup, the same setup Chicago has run since forever. This will definitely make the coaching transition easier for players like Julius Peppers, Lance Briggs, and Brian Urlacher (assuming he re-signs with the Bears).
Hopefully, the ton of veteran leadership Chicago has on the defensive side of the ball, along with their familiarity with one another, will complement Tucker’s expertise and result in the continuation of the Bears’ dominant defense.
Clyde A. Speller is an NFL writer for RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter @ClydeASpeller, or add him to your network on Google