If coordinator Mel Tucker is the problem behind the decline and fall of the Bears’ defense from 2012 to 2013, then this season has to rank as an all-timer for “problem” coordinators who suddenly got bad or stupid.
And it has nothing to do with scheme, or with having won or reached Super Bowls.
Legendary 3-4 innovator Dick LeBeau, inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2010, directed the Pittsburgh Steelers’ No. 1 yardage/No. 6 scoring defense in 2012. His signature unit now stands 14th in yardage and 18th in points given up.
And he’s actually doing better than a handful of other elite but struggling coordinators, all of whom have reached and/or won Super Bowls.
Dom Capers, another 3-4 schemer of some renown, had the Green Bay Packers ranked 11th in both yardage and points allowed at the end of last season. Going into Sunday’s meeting with the Bears, the Packers are 26th in yards and 24th in points allowed.
The year has not been appreciably kinder to 4-3 masterminds.
“Tampa-2” originator Monte Kiffin, with Rod Marinelli as his line coach, took over a Dallas Cowboys defense that ranked 19th in yards allowed and 24th in points allowed, performances bad enough to get Rob Ryan fired. That defense now ranks 32nd in yardage and 25th in points allowed.
Out in Denver, where head coach John Fox comes from the defensive side and coordinator Jack Del Rio was a longtime NFL middle linebacker and head coach, the Broncos closed out 2012 with a defense standing No. 2 in yardage and No. 4 in points. The offensive pyrotechnics of Peyton Manning have covered for a defense that is 22nd in yards and points allowed.