New Chicago Bears head coach Marc Trestman couldn't come to an agreement with former defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli to remain in Chicago so he went out and hired a new one. Jacksonville Jaguars defensive coordinator Mel Tucker has become the new defensive coordinator for the Chicago Bears, and he helps to keep the 4-3 base defensive scheme in place.
Tucker has been described by those in the media as a good coordinator a young up and comer who has been interviewed for head coaching positions in the NFL.
However no one in the media has dipped into Tucker's defensive scheme and evaluated how aggressive or simple his defense is.
Well finally someone has, and that person is me and I'm here to tell you there are some major problems with Tucker's defensive scheme.
People often complained about Lovie Smith's defense being too simple and outdated, well Tucker's defense is even more simple and outdated than Smith's.
Mel Tucker's defense has one formation and that's the base 4-3 formation from the linebackers.
You will never seen a linebacker line up in strong-side linebacker lining up directly over the TE where the offensive is aligned strong right. All you Tucker's defense presents is some shifted alignments from the 4-3 defense with a wide alignment or a narrow alignment from the defensive line. You may get a wide-9 alignment or a 5-technique alignment from the DEs.
Tucker's defense also rarely if ever blitzes and when it does blitz the tendency is to blitz from the nickel spot when a nickel-back will line up at the LOS basically telegraphing his blitz.
There is never any adjustments from the linebackers, just a plain 3-man box alignment from the linebackers.
At no point does the offense have to worry about being challenged or confused by a multiple front defense, because Tucker doe not utilize a multiple front defense.
Tucker's defense also rarely disguises his coverage in the secondary by rotating a safety down into the box, or having a safety bail into a Cover-2 defense from an 8-man box.
Slants and stunts from Tucker's defense are few and far between and are very basic and not hard to pick up. He rarely blitzes out of a stunt or a twist alignment and when he does, it's usually pretty predictable for the offense.
In this day of modern NFL defense it is extremely important for a defensive coordinator to show multiple fronts and looks and try to disguise what he plans to do as much as possible. Lovie Smith's defense did this all the time, rotating to Cover-1 or Cover-2 or Cover-3 trying to hide their planned coverage as much as possible.
Tucker's defense does no such thing, and as a result his defense is very predictable and easy to defeat. According to FootballOutsiders since Tucker took over the defense in Jacksonville their defensive efficiency ratings have been as follows, 28th 32nd, 5th and 28th.
Many have called the ranking of fifth in the NFL a fluke given the three year consistency from the Jaguars defense from 2009, 2010 and 2012.
Tucker's defense is in now way shape or form an attacking defense on first and second down. There is no aggressive attacking of the gaps, no run blitzes from the linebackers, it is a basic 4-3 read and react defense. Oftentimes Lovie Smith's defense has been criticized for being a bend but don't break, but his one-gap scheme has been one of the most aggressive 4-3 defenses in the NFL.
The aggressive nature of Smith's scheme was to aggressively attack running lanes and gaps within the zone-blocking scheme. Tucker's defense by contrast asks defenders to get blocked, get off the block and make the tackle.
The All-22 tape shows just how basic Tucker's defense is and how easily it can be schemed against. One can only hope that with the Bears retaining Jon Hoke and Mike Phair from the old staff that some of their defensive acumen bleeds over.
Defense works best when you show multiple looks for the offense to deal with, instead of a base 4-3 alignment with absolutely no adjustments from the linebackers. Multiple fronts and multiple coverage looks are the key to success in the NFL, let's hope Mel Tucker learns that sooner rather than later.