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Chicago Bears Made the Right Decision Keeping Mel Tucker as Defensive Coordinator

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COMMENTARY | To most fans and onlookers, it seemed like a no-brainer: with the Chicago Bears experiencing their worst defensive season in as long as anyone can remember, they should absolutely fire defensive coordinator Mel Tucker.


Despite all of the injuries and inexperience they put on the field as a result, it was the coach's fault. After all, if the Bears could survive the loss of Brian Urlacher to a season-ending injury in 2009 and still be better than this year's edition, major changes were needed to turn this thing around. The offense, for once, carried the Bears to eight wins, and that number would have been much higher had it not been for the porous display on defense.

But then Bears' GM Phil Emery and head coach Marc Trestman appeared to offer support for Tucker during their end-of-season press conference on January 2. Emery said no decision was made at that time, and that it was his job to "take emotion out of the decisions" that he makes.

Emery added that numerous players may move positions and even that the team may switch to a 3-4 defense for the first time in team history. With Emery having already locked up quarterback Jay Cutler, the major question for the Bears this offseason was who would be calling the defense in 2014.

On Sunday, Chicago finally gave an answer, announcing that two defensive coaches would not be returning in 2014: defensive line coach Mike Phair and linebackers coach Tim Tibesar. In that announcement, they also revealed Tucker would be returning as defensive coordinator.

"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 said in a statement.

You can bet that Trestman, a dedicated coach, did his due diligence in deciding whether or not to retain Tucker. With all that he and Emery have accomplished so far in building the offense to what it was last year, how can one not trust that they will do the same this season and in the future?

The Bears made the right decision in retaining Mel Tucker because he is a good coach with a proven track record. In 2011, Tucker took over the play-calling duties for the Jacksonville Jaguars and led them to being the #4 rated defense.

Tucker also has a track record coaching defensive backs at a high level. While coaching the Cleveland Browns defensive backs from 2005-07 and serving as the defensive coordinator in 2008, the Browns recorded 73 interceptions, fifth most in the league during that span. Everyone knows the Bears safeties struggled during the 2013 season despite starters Chris Conte and Major Wright being healthy for almost the entire season.

Safety, however, was really the only position that enjoyed any semblance of health during the season. During the course of the season, six defensive players who started multiple games also missed a significant portion of the season: Stephen Paea, Henry Melton, Nate Collins, Lance Briggs, D.J. Williams, and Charles Tillman. This group doesn't include Kelvin Hayden, who was lost for the season in training camp and supposed to be the teams' nickleback on defense.

Injuries usually shouldn't qualify as an excuse, but when you consider how the Bears had such an inexperienced group of backups, they clearly played a factor in the decline of the defense's play. Before Williams was lost for the season with a torn pectoral muscle October 10 against the New York Giants, the Bears ranked eighth in the NFL against the run.

Emery still has numerous key decisions to make involving free agents and players under contract, and the defense is sure to look different in 2014. But in this case, he decided that continuity could only help improve those that will return, especially when you consider all of the positive support he has received in the weeks following the end of the season.

Tucker has had success with every team he has coached for since coming to the NFL, and the Bears should be no different. Tucker has proven he knows how to coach in this league, his players just didn't show it last season. Bears fans can only hope that next year they do.

Billy Grayson is a Yahoo contributor from Chicago and diehard Chicago sports follower. He is currently studying Broadcast Journalism at the University of Missouri in Columbia.

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