With the Chicago Bears extensive head coaching search whittled down to three finalists and nearing its inevitable conclusion, a ton of questions about the rest of the coaching staff will need to be answered. The Bears have a cavalcade of experience remaining on Lovie Smith's staff, with Mike Tice and
Daryl Drake Jeremy Bates being the main names on the offensive side.
The departure of Dave Toub for Kansas City leaves one of the most successful phases during Smith's tenure without its coordinator, and the status of defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli will likely be undetermined until after Phil Emery announces the Bears' new head coach later this week (hopefully). No matter which of Emery's Three gets the head coach job, they would be well-advised to retain Rod Marinelli.
Marc Trestman, Darrell Bevell, and Bruce Arians all have one thing in common: extensive offensive experience. The flip side of that coin is that none have extensive defensive coaching experience. Now, of course, Arians spent most of this season as the interim Head Coach of the Colts, leaving him to direct all aspects of the team, and Trestman has spent five seasons as the Head Coach of the Montreal Alouettes*. Each of the candidates at least have some general idea about the defensive scheme and personnel they would choose to have if they were hired by the Bears. But keeping Hot Rod and a base 4-3 defense would make the transition easier on everyone, and hopefully continue the standard of defensive excellence we saw during the Lovie Smith years.
A new head coach retaining a former coach's coordinator rarely occurs, but it has happened before and with success. Mike Tomlin kept Dick LeBeau as the D.C. in Pittsburgh to maintain the scheme that was so successful during the Bill Cowher years. Monte Kiffin was retained by Jon Gruden after Tony Dungy was fired in Tampa Bay. Both LeBeau and Kiffin were established defensive coordinators with solid track records, who helped lead their teams to Super Bowl victories after the regime change. Could Marinelli be the next defensive coordinator to stick around and win a championship for a new coach?
Check out the Bears' defensive rankings under Marinelli the past four seasons:
|PPG Allowed||Yards Allowed||Passing Yards Allowed||Rushing Yards Allowed||Turnovers Forced||Sacks||3rd Down %|
**as pointed out by DDigital, 2009 featured a mess on defense with Bob Babich being the Defensive Coordinator, Lovie Smith calling the defensive plays, and Marinelli as Assistant Head Coach and D-Line Coach.
The past three seasons have been exceptional under Marinelli, finishing top ten multiple times in points allowed, yards allowed, turnovers forced, sacks, and third down percentage. Even the Bears' worst year with Marinelli on staff, 2009, pitted them as an average to below-average defense that gave up too many rushing yards and third down conversions, but still forced turnovers and sacks.
Whether you want to give Marinelli more or less credit for the Bears' defensive performances the past few seasons since it was "Lovie's D," tossing aside Marinelli may be asking for too much change too fast. Phil Emery made it clear that the offense was Lovie's downfall (well, that and being exceptionally average) and fixing the offense was likely a focal point for his interviews.
With Toub leaving, we'll have to wait and see who steps into the special teams role and how they perform, but the gold standard of the Bears - their defense - has all the pieces to stay on top next season. Keeping Marinelli to run his defense - with his trusted veterans in tow - gives the Bears the best chance to see immediate success from this new regime.