To the Chicago Bears organization, this will probably sting a bit. Rod Marinelli's presence on the Bears defense was the safety net which reduced the risk of a coaching change, and helped develop some of the great young defensive talent on that line. With that now out the window, Marc Trestman and Phil Emery will have to go into damage-control mode to assess the best possible choice to replace Marinelli and get continuity with defensive results.
Lets take a quick run through some possible replacements:
Gene Chizik (ex-HC, Auburn)
- Gene Chizik hasn't ever been a great HC in Auburn or Iowa State, but is a well respected mind in the Tampa 2 hivemind. Plays a lot of Over/Under stacked defensive lines, with the typical Cover-1/Cover-3 swaps. Hasn't had NFL experience, but learned from Dungy, Kiffen, and Lovie while coaching at UCF.
Brian VanGorder (ex-DC, Atlanta)
- DC under Chizik while at Auburn, but also DC under Mike Smith in Atlanta. Had decent success in 2008-2011 and had good success after his first season in Atlanta, team had 28 takeaways per year. A bit more conservative than Chizik, but implemented a strong bend but don't break system that elevated John Abraham's play.
Joe Berry (LBC, San Diego)
- Joe Berry, amusingly, is Rod Marinelli's son in law, and was his DC while in Detroit. Wasn't great there, but went and worked under Monte Kiffin at USC for another 2 years, and San Diego last year as their LB coach. It's a possiblity, a name, but, it's really unlikely scenario where Berry would end up as the Bears DC at this point and time.
Ron Meeks (DBC, San Diego)
- Ron Meeks is another Tampa 2 guy, with his roots under Tony Dungy between 2002-2008, and under John Fox and Ron Rivera between 2009 and 2011. He's a 'Tampa 2' guy, but, not strictly married to it either. When he moved to Carolina, he moved more to a more aggressive, Cover-1 system which relies on strong corner play, similar to how the Bears currently run their Single High packages.
Dick Jauron (ex-DC?, Cleveland)
- Cleveland doesn't know who they're going to have play as DC, but, Jauron, even after he left Chicago, has actually done a decent job of running defenses. He ran a Two Gap 4-3 system while here in Chicago, but a Tampa 2 while in Buffalo. He's actually put together some decent teams on offense with less talent in Buffalo and more importantly, in Cleveland. If Cleveland parts with Jauron, and he'd be willing to come back to Chicago, then I think it could be a great match for both him and the team moving forward.
Jon Hoke (DBC, Chicago)
- The best in house candidate, but has never been a DC at the NFL level (but was a DC under Steve Spurrier in Floria). Widly regarded as a good mind in the game, has had a few DC coaching interviews (Minnesota, Philadelphia, and Tampa Bay). He's developed and worked with the current players, and has a good development record, and has the confidence of the players says Matt Bowen and Laurence Holmes. Obviously the odds on favourite to being the next DC if Marinelli leaves. But he's still a risk and not a slam dunk, and not be a vis-a-vis replacement.
Mel Tucker (ex-DC, Jags)
- Fired with Mike Mularkey last week in Jacksonville, he's coached multiple types of schemes, but is a personnel guy who plays to his talent. Isn't very aggressive, but with a defensive line that can get real pressure, doesn't have to be aggressive to work an effective scheme. One of the big knocks on him in Jacksonville was that he didn't blitz enough for as little pressure as Jacksonville got this past year, in Chicago he wouldn't have that problem.
Raheem Morris (DBC, Washington)
- Former HC in Tampa Bay, isn't afraid to swap coverage schemes and personnel to throw a bit of chaos. Definitely not a 'true Tampa-2' guy, but has the creativity and flexibility to fight high powered offenses, much like Perry Fewell has done in New York. His big knock is: 'is he ready to coach again'?
Now. I'm not opposed to, nor in love with 4-3 as a scheme, but the issue is, the Bears aren't able to find a good coach to coach the team into a 3-4 that would be effective enough through the next few years. Ray Horton comes to mind as being a great coach, but his style right now isn't a fit to the Bears, pretty much anyone in the LeBeau tree would be ineffective in Chicago for the next few years. Wade Phillips's one-gap and good 3-4 hybrid teams just don't have a lot of available coaches hanging out in the wings that aren't already under contract.
It's possible that the Bears may be a 3-4 team in a few years, but this year, right now, what's important is finding a coach who's going to get the most out of their players, and be effective while the Bears work to improve their offense, whether it's Hoke, or another candidate, the important part is finding continuity, and then keeping the Bears defense playing at a high level and adjust to the personnel over the next few years.
What are your thoughts on the Chicago Bears next Defensive Coordinator?