Chicago Bears head coach Marc Trestman and general manager Phil Emery had to think about bringing back Mel Tucker as defensive coordinator. Chicago's season ended on December 29th, 2013 and they waited 14 days before they announced Tucker would be retained. They can spin it any way they'd like, but by not saying anything until January 12th, spoke volumes.
There was no public vote of confidence about Tucker at any point after the season and at a January 2nd press conference, Trestman went so far as to say, "everything is on the table" when talking about fixing what went wrong in 2013. The biggest wrong being the defense, so it was assumed by many that Tucker's job was in jeopardy.
Tucker was retained although two defensive assistants were let go. He may have the full support of Trestman and Emery for now, but he has to get his defense playing better.
Last season was supposed to be the year Tucker finally had some talent on defense to show what he can do as a coordinator. His past defenses were never ranked very high, but they also didn't have the talent that Chicago was providing. As the injuries started piling up, the wheels completely fell off the defense in 2013. He was forced to play street free agents meaningful reps, he had rookies starting that weren't ready to play, and he had guys playing out of position.
Everyone remembers when the Bears lost defensive tackle Henry Melton for the season during week three, but that wasn't the first hit for the defense. Veteran defensive tackle Sedrick Ellis abruptly retired before training camp. Veteran defensive lineman Turk McBride was lost for the season with an Achilles injury during training camp and nickle/corner Kelvin Hayden was placed on injured reserve in August.
Those three tested the depth of the D before the season even started, then with Melton, D.J. Williams, Nate Collins, Charles Tillman and Lance Briggs all missing time during the year, it left Tucker playing short handed.
His defense was historically bad, but technically it wasn't his defense. He agreed to keep the Tampa 2 in place for the veteran players, but with so many new faces logging game day reps, it was hard to get a read on exactly what Mel Tucker was.
This year there will be no excuses.
He's implementing his scheme, the draft brought him some new players and free agency brought him even more. The talent is there for the defense to make a big statistical jump in 2014.
Marc Trestman will have the offense scoring points, but Tucker has to have his unit carrying their own weight. Being ranked dead last against the rush and 30th overall is not acceptable in 2014. Phil Emery worked on the depth of the defense from last year, so Tucker will need to coach his way around any injuries that pop up this season.
If the defense falters again I don't think Bears brass will wait 14 days to tell Tucker his fate.
There will be no excuses in 2014 for Mel Tucker.
If you've missed any of the Most Important Bears so far, catch up by going to the full story stream.