By Adam Hoge-
HALAS HALL (CBS) — The Bears’ defense may rank 26th in the league, but head coach Marc Trestman has no issues with the job defensive coordinator Mel Tucker has done this season.
“I can tell you, Mel’s done an amazing job in my opinion,” Trestman said Wednesday. “He has been consistent with the guys in terms of his passion, the way he’s teaching. He’s a positive guy.”
And so is Trestman. But in fairness, Tucker has dealt with an enormous amount of injuries on a unit that was already aging rapidly. Defensive tackles Henry Melton and Nate Collins are on injured reserve, as are linebacker D.J. Williams and cornerback Charles Tillman, although Tillman is eligible to return for the postseason. Some will say the defense — particularly the defensive line — struggled before the injury bug hit, but Trestman still likes what he’s seen from his defensive coordinator, who came over from Jacksonville in the offseason.
“As I talked to the team on Monday, I thought our defense played well enough for us to win (Sunday) under unusual circumstances because of the situation of having so many players out that gave our team a chance to win. I think that starts with Mel, and our staff getting the guys ready, continuing to work with them to try and improve.”
Tucker made a decision after the bye week to call plays from the field instead of the booth and the defense has allowed nearly nine less points a game since that switch. But on the year, the Bears’ defense ranks 27th in points allowed, 26th in total defense, 31st in rushing defense and 23rd in passing defense.
“Are we where we want to be? No. We’re always trying to get better. But I think he’s done an outstanding job in the classroom,” Trestman said. “On the field, he’s excellent, and I think he’s done a great job of being on the field and managing the team for the last couple of games on the field. It’s very impressive to watch.”
Stuck To A Webb
Bears wide receiver Brandon Marshall has played against Ravens cornerback Lardarius Webb once — and it didn’t go well.
The two matched up in 2009 when Marshall was in Denver and Webb was in his rookie year with the Ravens.
“He pretty much dominated me,” Marshall admitted Wednesday. “I wasn’t prepared. Look on a piece paper and you see that he’s a fairly small guy compared to other guys around the league. But he’s probably one of the strongest corners that I’ve ever faced.”
Listed at 5-10, 182 pounds, Webb held Marshall to just four catches for 24 yards in that game.
“Right before he got injured, he was probably the No. 2 corner right behind Darrelle Revis,” Marshall said. “He was playing at a really high level and now you’re starting to see him as the season goes really get back to that form. He’s a difficult opponent and I have a lot of respect for the guy. The last thing that I remember is him dominating me a little bit and talking trash and I was like, ‘Man that sucks.’ Now I get another opportunity to play against him.”
Maybe. Webb did not practice Wednesday because of a groin injury. He has struggled for most of the season coming off a torn ACL, but looked much better against the Bengals Sunday.
Trestman went ahead and ruled out Jay Cutler (ankle) and Lance Briggs (shoulder) for Sunday’s game. Defensive end Shea McClellin (hamstring), long snapper Patrick Mannelly (calf) and defensive tackle Jeremiah Ratliff (groin) all missed Wednesday’s practice, although Trestman said McClellin and Ratliff were able to do a little work on the side.
It appears only McClellin has a chance to play Sunday against the Ravens, but Trestman said they’ll have a better idea of the defensive end’s status based on whether or not he practices Thursday.
– Defensive end Corey Wootton said he noticed on film that the Ravens like to run behind right tackle Michael Oher and right guard Marshal Yanda, who have started every game for Baltimore this season. He’s right, but the results haven’t been good. In 57 rushes behind right guard (second most in the NFL) , the Ravens are averaging just 1.82 yards per carry, which is worst in the league. In 28 rushes behind right tackle (14th in the league), the Ravens are averaging just 1.29 yards per carry, which is also worst in the league. Overall, the Ravens rushing offense is 30th with 73.1 yards per game.
– The loss of Charles Tillman will also have a negative impact on the Bears’ special teams unit as not only will coordinator Joe DeCamillis lose Tillman from his punt/kick block team, but he’ll also likely lose Bowman from his coverage teams.
“We’ve got to get another young guy trained up. The fortunate thing is we’ve been through it before so we should be able to deal with it,” DeCamillis said.
DeCamillis also singled out linebacker Jerry Franklin as a guy who has made a lot of progress on special teams this year. Franklin has played in the last three games after spending the first six on the practice squad.
– The Bears signed safety Derrick Martin, who spent part of the preseason with the team. Martin will take Tillman’s spot on the 53-man roster.
Adam Hoge covers the Bears for CBSChicago.com and is a frequent contributor to 670 The Score. Follow him on Twitter at @AdamHoge.