Fixing the Bears Defense (Part 1: Coaching)

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In the Chicago Bears 92-year history they have never given up as many yards or as many points as they did this year. They have also never given up over 5 yards a carry (5.2) like they did in 2013. This year was an embarrassment to all that the Chicago Bears stand for. So let’s fix it. Here is my multi-part plan to fix the Bears defense and get our pride back.

Coaching Staff: 

David Banks-USA TODAY Sports

Mel Tucker (DC):  In Mel Tucker’s first season as Bears defensive coordinator the defense fell apart.  As I mentioned above, this season the Bears have given up the most points and yards in franchise history. If that’s not damning enough, they led the league in missed tackles and gave up a league worst 161.4 rushing yards per game. The 2nd-to-last ranked team (Atl) gave up 25.6 less rushing yards per game (135.8) than the Bears.

It’s hard to find anything positive to say about Tucker’s one year at the helm of the defense. No player improved noticeably, multiple players got worse, and the stats mentioned above are disgusting. The injury excuse covers some decline, but other teams (Pats, Bengals) had close to as many injuries on defense and still managed to field a competitive defensive unit. The Bears defense was an embarrassment and somebody has to pay the price for that level of gross incompetence. I’m pretty sure it’s going to be Mel Tucker. Good riddance.

It’s possible the Bears give Tucker another chance and make one of his position coaches the scapegoat, but I think they need to clean house and start over. Here are a few defensive assistants who could get the ax this week: John Hoke (DB), Tim Tebasar (LB), Mike Phair (DL).

Replacement Options

Current NFL coaches:

Joe Vitt (Saints: AHC / LB) – Oversaw the Saints transition from a 4-3 to a 3-4 defense in 2013 and helped DC Rob Ryan orchestrate a dramatic turn around for defense that went from dead last in the league in 2012 (440 ypg) to 4th in the NFL in 2013 (305.7 ypg). With the Bears needing a complete rebuild on defense and possibly moving to a 3-4, why not hire a guy who had success doing both in 2013.

Todd Bowles (Cardinals: DC) – I don’t think Bowles would be willing to make a lateral move to come to Chicago unless the Bears offered significantly more money. Bowles also was a captain under Cards HC Bruce Arians while in college at Tempe, so they go way back. The Cardinals defense was outstanding this year and reminded me of the swarming Bear defenses in the early 2000s.

Karl Dunbar (Jets: DL) – If stopping the run is the Bears top priority, they should at least talk to Karl Dunbar. He was the Vikings defensive line coach from 2006-2011 and during his tenure the Vikings gave up the fewest rushing yards in the league over a six-year span and the Vikings led the league in rush yards allowed for 3 consecutive years (2006-2008). Dunbar left the Vikings for the same position with the Jets in 2012 and inherited a defense that was 20th in rushing yards allowed the year before. The Jets improved to 7th in rushing yards allowed in Dunbar’s first season and were 3rd in his second season (2013).

Mark Carrier (Bengals: DB) – Injuries were a common excuse for the Bears this year, but they weren’t the only team who lost players. The Bengals started 4 different DB combinations and still managed to finish in the top 5 in passing yards allowed. Bear fans should be familiar with Carrier as he was a Bear safety from 1990-1997, won the defensive rookie of the year award in 1990 and made three Pro Bowls during his stint with the Bears. Carrier is more than just a secondary coach, he was the Jets defensive line coach for two years, which says a lot about Carrier’s overall defensive knowledge since he never played the position.

Ken Norton JR (Seahawks: LB) – Helped develop Rey Maualuga, Clay Mathews, and Brian Cushing while coaching at USC and did the same with undrafted LB David Hawthorn (3 consecutive 100-tackle seasons) and 4th round pick KJ Wright in Seattle. Norton has only coached in the NFL for 3 seasons, but is a hot coaching prospect and will be in the running for DC jobs soon. As a player, Norton Jr made 3 pro bowls and became the first player to win three consecutive super bowls.

College options on page 2:

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