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New Bears defensive coordinator Mel Tucker will stick with cover-2

Mel Tucker talked mediabout being Chicago Bears defensive coordinator coach Walter PaytCenter Lake Forest Thursday February 14 2013. | Al

Mel Tucker talked to the media about being the Chicago Bears defensive coordinator coach at the Walter Payton Center in Lake Forest on Thursday, February 14, 2013. | Al Podgorski~Chicago Sun-Times

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Updated: February 16, 2013 11:39PM



Mike Tomlin was a disciple of Tony Dungy, whose trademark was the cover-2 defense, when he was hired as the Pittsburgh Steelers’ coach in 2007. But Tomlin knew better than to mess with a good thing, so he kept the Steelers’ highly rated 3-4 defense intact and took it to another level.

New Bears defensive coordinator Mel Tucker is taking a similar tack with the cover-2 defense he inherits from Lovie Smith and Rod Marinelli. He’ll tweak it where he can — ‘‘we’ll be an attacking, up-the-field, penetrating defense,’’ he said Thursday. But he won’t mess with success.

‘‘Mel will add his spin on it — creating new ideas and new ways of doing things,’‘ Bears coach Marc Trestman said at the Walter Payton Center during a news conference to introduce his coaching staff. ‘‘But essentially the style of play and the type of football we’re going to play defensively will not change much.’’

Tucker has coached 3-4 and 4-3 defenses in five seasons as an NFL defensive coordinator with the Cleveland Browns (2008) and Jacksonville Jaguars (2009-12). He’s sticking with the 4-3 defense because he has a team built for it.

‘‘I’m not going to get into the details and the strategy, but our base will be a 4-3,’’ Tucker said when asked if he would apply ‘‘any 3-4 principles’’ to this defense. ‘‘We don’t have any plans to switch [to a 3-4] at this point.’’

Tucker, in fact, is committed to keeping as much intact as he possibly can. Instead of teaching the players his terminology, Tucker said he will learn theirs.

‘‘It’s important to hit the ground running,’’ Tucker said. ‘‘[I] want to look at the group of guys you have and say, ‘How can we get this group up and running as fast as possible?’

‘‘It’s not about me. It’s about the players and what they can do. These guys were playing at a fairly high level here in the scheme they were playing. We need to get better. Obviously we’ll do that. It will be more productive for me to learn their terminology than for me to come in and scrap everything they’ve done and bring in something totally new.’’

Tucker, 41, was a defensive back at Wisconsin under Barry Alvarez. He has coached the last eight years in the NFL after coaching eight years at the college level. He coached for Nick Saban at LSU and Jim Tressel at Ohio State.

‘‘I’ve taken a little bit from every coach I’ve worked with,’’ he said. ‘‘I worked with some very good coaches who were very different. Jim Tressel [is] very different from Nick Saban. Romeo Crennel is different from all those guys, and I think I’m different from those guys. But I have learned from everyone I’ve worked with.’’



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