May 14, 2013; Lake Forest, IL, USA; Chicago Bears defensive coordinator Mel Tucker during organized team activities at Halas Hall. Mandatory Credit: David Banks-USA TODAY Sports
Mother Tucker! The Bears have decided to retain defensive coordinator Mel Tucker while firing defensive assistants D-line coach Mike Phair and linebackers coach Tim Tibesar. At the end of such a catastrophic season, heads had to roll. Someone needed to held accountable for the rumor that was the Bears defense. At the end of the season press conference, Marc Trestman left Tucker swinging in the wind as “evaluations were ongoing.” Those evaluations have been completed and Trestman believes that Tucker is the right man for the job of rebuilding the 30th ranked defense:
"“Our team evaluation remains ongoing. We believe Mel is the right person to lead our defensive unit. He fully understands where we need to improve, has the skill set and leadership to oversee the changes that need to be made and to execute our plan to get the results we know are necessary.”"
Trestman has made a lot of off the wall and questionable calls in his first year as head coach, but this move is right up there with kicking a field goal on second down. They’re offering Phair and Tibesar as sacrificial lambs to the defensive gods, but a reclamation project this big requires a bigger sacrifice; it requires Tucker.
What really bothers me about this move is that the Bears defense doesn’t just need a nudge, it needs a shove. They don’t need incremental improvement that a couple of new assistants and a few new players could offer, they need to take a major leap forward to get out of the bottom of the league defensively. They need the kind of change that a new coach and a new scheme can provide.
The thing about Tucker is that he hasn’t done anything in his career to distinguish himself. His defenses have been inconsistent at best. They’ve struggled getting pressure on the quarterback and rarely finished in the top half of the league.
The jury is still out on whether GM Phil Emery can draft defensive players. The Bears will make wholesale changes on their defensive roster this offseason, but that doesn’t come with any guarantees. I’d feel a lot more comfortable with a defensive coordinator who could out-scheme their opponents because they don’t necessarily have the talent to outplay opponents. The Bears missed a major opportunity by retaining Tucker. I hope it’s not one that catches up with them in 2014.
What do YOU think? Did the Bears make a big mistake keeping Tucker? Can they fix the defense while he’s still running the show?