If the Lovie Smith detractors were looking forward to an end to the supposedly outdated Cover-2, they will be disappointed with what the incoming staff has in mind defensively.
Coach Marc Trestman, coordinator Mel Tucker and the 2013 coaching staff has made it clear that the defense will remain the speed-based one-gap scheme long practiced by Smith, Rod Marinelli and the staff.
The main reasons are simple:
The defense wasn’t broke; why fix it?
The Bears ranked fifth in yardage allowed and third in scoring defense. Seven of the top 10 scoring defenses were in the playoffs. The Bears were good enough defensively to have been there and the new staff is not intent on changing things simply for the sake of change.
“We’ll be very similar structurally,” Trestman said on Thursday. “And Mel will add his spin on it because of his input, creating new ideals and new ways of doing things. But in terms of the type of defense we’re going to play, it’s going to be quite similar.”
The personnel in place is very good.
The Bears sent four defensive players to the Pro Bowl. The mindset is to fit the system to the talents on hand rather than force-feeding a system to players not suited to play it.
“The most important thing you can do is play a scheme that’s conducive to the players that you have,” said linebackers coach Tim Tibesar. “Defensively this system has been put in place over nine years and they’ve accumulated the kinds of players here to play that system.
“We want to make sure we fit a round peg into a round hole.”
Coaches fit the system as well.
The organization made an overture to persuade Marinelli to stay, which he turned down and ultimately chose coaching the Dallas defensive line. Trestman did hold onto defensive line coach Mike Phair and secondary coach Jon Hoke. That speaks to Trestman’s and GM Phil Emery’s comfort levels with the incumbent system and, most important, Tucker’s.
“I’ve known Coach Hoke for a long time,” Tucker said. “We’ve been great friends. And Mike Phair, I’ve known him for about five years now. I think it’s all positive. Right now, we’ve got to come together as a staff, first and foremost, and then that will spill over to the team.”