Marc Trestman hires Mel Tucker as Bears’ defense coordinator
BY ADAM L. JAHNS firstname.lastname@example.org January 18, 2013 7:06PM
Marc Trestman speaks after being introduced as the new head coach of the Chicago Bears at Halas Hall in Lake Forest, Ill., on Thursday, January 17, 2013. | Andrew A. Nelles~Sun-Times Media
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During a long day of interviews and introductions, new Bears coach Marc Trestman found himself seated in a circle with reporters in the middle of the Halas Hall media room Thursday afternoon.
He said he would have liked to have kept defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli, who left to be the Dallas Cowboys’ defensive line coach. Trestman also said he knew he had to act fast to find Marinelli’s replacement.
On Friday, that replacement was named.
Trestman continued his break from the Lovie Smith era by bringing in Mel Tucker, the Jacksonville Jaguars’ defensive coordinator and assistant head coach.
The Bears also named Andy Bischoff their tight ends coach and Michael Sinclair their assistant defensive line coach Friday. Both worked under Trestman with the Montreal Alouettes.
“[Tucker is] an outstanding coach,” said former Bears safety Chris Harris, who played for the Jaguars this season. “He’s a fun guy to play for. I think the guys will definitely enjoy playing for him.”
It was believed that Bears defensive backs coach Jon Hoke, one of the few remaining holdovers from Smith’s staff, met with Trestman on Friday and was a candidate to be the coordinator.
But Trestman and general manager Phil Emery went with the experienced Tucker, who has been the Jaguars’ coordinator the last four seasons. Tucker also was the Jaguars’ interim head coach for the final five games of the 2011 season.
Tucker, who has worked with Nick Saban, Jack Del Rio and Romeo Crennel, also spent four seasons with the Cleveland Browns, who promoted him to defensive coordinator in 2008.
Hoke was a defensive coordinator at Florida and Kent State but never in the NFL.
Tucker should have plenty of control of the defense, with Trestman working a ton with Jay Cutler and the offense.
Hoke, safeties coach Gill Byrd and defensive line coach Mike Phair are the only coaches that remain from Smith’s staff.
Trestman said he wants to continue all the good things the Bears’ defense did under Smith.
“On defense, it all starts with the quarterback, doesn’t it?” Trestman said. “We’ve got to hurry him, we’ve got to hit him and we’ve got to knock him down. We’ve got to stop the run on first down, and we’ve got to get off the field on third down. And we’ve got to build frustration with opposing offenses.
“And then we’ve got to do what this team has done best, what this team stands by in the past. We’ve got to create turnovers with every play.”
Tucker likely will keep the Bears in a base 4-3 scheme for the time being because of their personnel, but he’ll add his own wrinkles. Tucker has run a 3-4 defense in the past.
“He’s a guy that understands how teams are trying to attack him,” Harris said. “He believes in his system and doesn’t panic when things aren’t going to plan.”
Don’t use the Jaguars’ recent woes to discount Tucker’s work. He is highly regarded around the league. The Jaguars’ defense ranked sixth in 2011 after being 28th the year before.
Tucker also can adapt, a trait that got Trestman hired.
“I’m open to whatever it takes to stop football teams,” Trestman said. “But I also know what this football team has done over a number of years. They have excellent football players, and they’ve been well-coached.”
Contributing: Sean Jensen