By Dan Durkin-
(CBS) Heading into the final week of the regular season, the Bears defense has an opportunity to finish last in two crucial categories — points allowed (429) and passing touchdowns allowed (33). Considering they finished dead last in run defense last year, such numbers aren’t incidental. They’re trends.
Mel Tucker has coordinated the defense over this span. Fans have been calling for Tucker’s dismissal since last season, and this season’s dismal performance has done nothing but turned up the volume of the noise. On Tuesday, Tucker spoke candidly about how he views the job he’s done in Chicago and in general.
“We’re not satisfied with anything that we’ve done,” Tucker said. “Never, never satisfied with any aspect of the game. I mean, after some of the wins that we’ve had, or any win that we’ve had, there’s always things you feel like you need to do better, you need to improve upon to get better. I don’t think there will ever be a moment in time when I’ll be satisfied with any aspect of my job or career or whatever I’m doing.”
In both seasons, injuries have played a part in the overall demise, but schematically, Tucker’s vanilla system has been routinely attacked by opponents. In addition, the adjustments have been too few and too insignificant.
As Tucker takes inventory on his past two seasons, he does, however, feel his unit has made strides in developing young personnel and sees growth in several individuals.
“We feel like we definitely have made some changes personnel-wise,” Tucker said. “We’re definitely younger. We made some improvements in the run game, and we’re a work in progress.”
Given that it’s the final week of the season and the writing is on the wall for the coaching staff, it’s safe to assume Tucker won’t see the end result of this development.
DeCamillis discusses development on special teams
At the midseason point, Bears general manager Phil Emery was candid about how he viewed special teams as an opportunity to develop young athletes on the roster. This approach put a lot of pressure on special teams coordinator Joe DeCamillis to work with inexperienced players, including several undrafted rookies.
Back in Bourbonnais, DeCamillis was looking for a group of “core four” (kick/punt coverage units, kick/punt return units) special teams players. Who those players were going to be, DeCamillis wasn’t sure, but he’s pleased in the development of a few this season.
“Senorise (Perry) wasn’t a guy that we thought was going to make it at the start,” DeCamillis said. “Cornelius (Washington) was a guy we didn’t think was going to play we much as he did. We didn’t think DeDe Lattimore was going to be a guy.”
Has it been a struggle? Absolutely. Have the special teams units contributed to losses? Without a doubt. Even so, DeCamillis still sees progress.
“It hasn’t gone to plan at times, no question about that,” DeCamillis said. “But I’m pleased with where they are at this point. Would we change a lot of things? Sure. I hope everybody when you get in a situation like this – no matter who you are – look at it and say, ‘What can I do to fix this?’ And then the next time when you get in the situation, you’re not going to make that same mistake.”
Like Tucker though, the question becomes where will DeCamillis get his next situation?
Dan Durkin covers the Bears for CBSChicago.com and is a frequent contributor to 670 The Score. Follow him on Twitter at @djdurkin.