The performance of the Chicago Bears’ defense in 2013 wasn’t something defensive coordinator Mel Tucker was expecting during his first year in the Windy City. The Bears had one of the worst defensive units in the NFL last season, ranking 30th in yards allowed per game (394.6), tied for 30th in total points allowed (478) and points allowed per game (29.9) and last in rushing yards per game (161.4) and sacks (31).
Of course injuries to key players, and the play of inexperienced rookies, were major factors in Chicago’s horrible campaign on the defensive side of the ball. In addition, Tucker orchestrating the defense under the blueprint left by former Bears head coach Lovie Smith, a scheme that Tucker wasn’t too familiar with, was more of a reason for Chicago’s lackluster season.
Since this disastrous year has come to an end, Tucker is now in position to prove to all Bears fans that he is the right fit as defensive coordinator. The Bears have made numerous additions to their defense since the start of free agency. The signings of defensive ends Jared Allen, Lamarr Houston and Willie Young should vastly improve Chicago’s pass rush and run defense. Furthermore, Tucker will also have Charles Tillman, Nate Collins, Jeremiah Ratliff and D.J. Williams back in the mix.
However, the most significant change for the upcoming season will be the system the Bears will operate under. There were rumblings of Chicago switching to a 3-4 alignment, but that was put to rest by head coach Marc Trestman in February when he revealed that the team will stick with their 4-3. Although the 4-3 will remain in place, a hybrid form of this scheme will allow individuals to be more productive on the field. One player in particular set to benefit from this is Shea McClellin, who has been switched from defensive end to outside linebacker.
And let’s not forget the 2014 NFL Draft. More potential starters and quality depth will be added this May to only further improve Chicago’s roster, mainly at defensive tackle and safety.
Looking at how everything panned out last year for Tucker and the Bears’ defense, there seems to be nowhere else to go but up. All of the pieces are close to being in place for Tucker to show what he can really do as a defensive coordinator for the Monsters of the Midway in 2014.
Clyde A. Speller is an NFL writer for RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter @ClydeASpeller.