Tucker Confirms Defensive Changes and Other Bullets

MelTuckerHopefully everyone had a great weekend! The Bears rookie minicamp finished up, and sadly, my pet prospect (Indiana safety Greg Heban) didn’t make the grade for the Bears. (Not that I think that’s a bad decision; I’m certainly not qualified. I just liked watching him play in college.) According to Brad Biggs, the Bears did sign at least two players out of minicamp: North Texas safety Marcus Trice and Louisville running back Senorise Perry. Both players will head to camp with the Bears, and given the relative strength of their respective positional groups, I think Trice has to fancy his chances of cracking the roster more than Perry.

  • Among Perry’s competition, former NIU quarterback Jordan Lynch is certainly the highest-profile candidate. As Adam Hoge writes for CBS Chicago, the key to Lynch making the roster and being a potentially useful offensive player will be his ability to contribute on special teams. As a Heisman Trophy-finalist college quarterback, Lynch obviously wasn’t asked to do a lot of blocking or tackling, so he’s a bit behind the curve.
  • ESPN Chicago’s Michael C. Wright has a nice rundown of the potential changes in store for the Bears defensive scheme. Mel Tucker sounds as though he wants to make a lot of changes, and after last year’s performance, I’d think that’s a good approach. From the piece, I received the impression that while the changes wouldn’t be sweeping, they will be felt at all levels of the defense. Tucker notes that the high level of defensive personnel turnover (both coaches and players) helps to facilitate this sort of change. This is Mel Tucker’s defense now; he’s no longer beholden to Lovie Smith’s scheme, and he’ll benefit from a wealth of new defensive talent. I’m very interested to see how the Bears look defensively under Tucker; due to injuries (and the Bears effort to maintain defensive continuity from Lovie’s system) I’m still not really sure I know what a Mel Tucker defense looks like.
  • Marc Trestman plans on giving Jordan Palmer the first crack at the backup quarterback position, as noted by Adam Jahns. I think Palmer has a leg up at this point, given that the Bears certainly view themselves as a contending team; his veteran status probably provides a more reassuring presence. That said, Palmer has thrown all of 15 passes in the NFL, so it’s not as though he’s a seasoned, tested player. Considering the Bears spent a sixth-round choice on David Fales, Palmer probably shouldn’t be too comfortable.
  • Patrick Finley wrote a quick piece for the Sun-Times on the relationship between second-round choice Ego Ferguson and undrafted free agent signing Christian Jones.
  • The Bears released punter Drew Butler, according to ESPN Chicago’s Michael C. Wright. Butler was signed to a reserve/futures contract this offseason, but his chances of making the team were drastically diminished when Chicago selected Pat O’Donnell in the sixth round of the draft.
  • Speaking of O’Donnell, Jeff Dickerson wrote that he’s got some advice from the veteran specialists while at minicamp this weekend. Dickerson also reports that O’Donnell repeatedly hit the roof of the Bears indoor practice facility. Personally, I’m hoping he hits the Dallas scoreboard at some point. Remember when everyone assumed that would happen repeatedly, and it was treated as some sort of “Thing To Worry About”? Has it even happened in a game?
  • Finally, the National Football Post’s Joe Fortenbaugh has the Las Vegas Hotel Sportsbook NFL over/under lines for the upcoming season. The Bears sit at 8, which strikes me as low; I’d probably put it at 9. (Note: I’m not a professional gambler.) Looking at the other divisional teams, the Packers are at 10, the Lions match the Bears with 8, and the Vikings sit at 6. Play at your own risk.

Jay Rigdon is the editor and lead writer at Bleacher Nation Bears, and can also be found @BearsBN on Twitter.

374 responses to “Tucker Confirms Defensive Changes and Other Bullets”

  1. mdavis

    Demontre Hurst…guess they didn’t like how he played in ST

  2. mdavis

    they might need to make some more moves too. Garza reportedly has a high ankle sprain, and no word on Slauson yet…That leaves de la Puenta, who played well, and Ola in the line up…only other lineman they have is 7th round rookie Leno. As far as I know, Britton is still available. Wouldn’t be surprised to see him back if they need another lineman.

  3. frank

    Surprised it was Hurst – thought they liked him. Yeah, it’d make sense to bring Britton back.

  4. mdavis

    Yea agreed, must not of liked his ST play though.

    Listened to the Cutler show yesterday, which btw if you don’t, I recommend it. He’s good radio. Doesn’t seem too concerned bout Jeffrey and BMarsh injuries, so I think they could be good to go this weekend, and they’ll need them. Apparently, one Marshall came back in after being banged up, there were only certain routes he could run so he was moving from X to Z to flex Y etc, which caused Spurlock, Holmes, Morgan to have to move around also into spots they weren’t used to being in. Obviously makes it tough. Stuck out on the poor INT by Cutler, Holmes was out there stalk blocking. And once again, he’s only been here a few weeks.

    Was very positive about Ola and de la Puenta, which I’d agree with. They looked great, and didn’t miss a beat. We’ll see if Slauson can go, I already expect Garza out a few weeks.

    I’d expect Bennett to be featured this week. Cutler kpet saying they need to get him the rock more, and with those two outside guys a litte banged up, he could be a big time threat in the middle of the field. 6’6″ 265 is just a match up nightmare.

    also, kind of cool, apparently during team film, Cutler stood up and took responsibility for that 2nd pick, says he needs to be better etc. You like seeing that. or hearing about that.

    1. frank

      Yes, Ola and de la Puente did a good job, especially considering the circumstances–the last time we saw depth on the offensive line? I don’t even want to think about that. But at least it seems to be there now.

      They started to use Bennett more last week–turned out pretty well. I’d expect more passes to Forte as well.

      Yeah–one thing everyone has knocked Cutler on is a seeming inability, or outright refusal, to take responsibility for mistakes. I like to hear about that too–another step up in leadership.

  5. mdavis

    well…clearly were not enamored with Spurlock’s play. He’s gone. Britton, as we figured, signed today. Also figures to be a good sign that Marshall and Jeffrey are healthy, otherwise they only have Holmes and Morgan on the roster. Bellamy is still on the P-squad as well, if they decided to make anoter move. Still, puts them at 4 WR for right now, which is a tad concerning…

    1. frank

      Yeah, they can’t stay with only 4 receivers.

  6. frank

    Surprised to hear the Bears cut Fales and Fiametta–not sure I’m that surprised about Hayden though.

  7. mdavis

    well, how bout that??

    O Line was strong in pass pro, not so much in run. Marshall and JEffrey gutted it out hard, made enough plays. And Jay Cutler….after all the heat he took this week, gets absolutely drilled, and comes back and throws 4 TD passes and no turnovers.

    Defense I thought was great. Take away the blocked punt, they only gave up 13. Fuller was outstanding. I thought McClellin flashed. Run defesne was pretty good, and they rushed the passer. Willie Young anyone?

    Gutted for Tillman. I think by his reaction you know his season is done. Same triceps as last year, and he obviously remebers what that injury felt like. That may be it for Peanut, and not just for the Bears, but for good. Feel terrible for the guy. I’d expect Hayden back, secondary took a huge hit. Only had 4 active CBs, and 2 went dwon. Vereen had to play the nickel, and actually looked not bad. Should of had a sack, but other than that was where he needed to be in coverage. Not bad for a guy who hasnt practiced CB since college.

    1. frank

      I was not expecting that. Defensive line looks like they’re finding their identity. I thought the pass defense still had some problems though–too many guys were way too open on critical downs. But overall, as you said, take away the punt debacle and they held San Francisco to 13 points, and only 3 in the second half. On a couple of plays, McClellin actually looked like a LB, and the run defense stopped Gore for the most part–not an easy job. Kaepernick got frustrated and lost some composure–jawing with Houston, if I remember. I don’t think Kaepernick wants to get involved with that–SF would be looking for a new QB.

      Did you see this stat? Coming into this game, the Bears were 3-104-1 when trailing by 16+ points on the road. I hope that this game shows that they can beat anyone, any time, any place–when they play as they’re capable of playing.

      I feel horrible for Tillman too–you could see the tears when he was on the sideline. At least Fuller looked worthy of that 1st round pick. He had some great plays. The run blocking needs something–though SF (and Buffalo for that matter) has a pretty good front.

      After the game last week, Cutler spoke to the whole team, saying he had to be better. And last night, he was. Great games by Marshall and Jeffery–not statistically, but in terms of toughness and leadership. They made key plays despite playing hurt.

      1. mdavis

        Agreed, still had some open receivers. But for the most part, rallied. Conte had a hell of a pick, but he seems to injure his shoulder every week at this point. Thought they defended the read option pretty well. McClellan stretched it out 2 or 3 times that I can recall, so he did his job.

        I expect Hayden to be re-signed (for the second time this year) this week, and anticipate he’ll be the nickel corner moving forward. Or, come in the sub package, line up outside and kick Jennings inside as they have been doing. We’ll see how McManis is as well. Top STer on the squad, plus I thought had a real good camp at corner…more depth issues. Frey is still stashed on the P-Squad, so he could be a depth option, Vereen has the versatility to play corner, and didnt embarrass himself so maybe they give him some work there this week so they can keep that roster spot freed up.

        1. frank

          I expect they’ll sign Hayden again too. Have to admit, Conte has had two great interceptions in two games. Still doesn’t look like he can tackle a dummy though. When they said it was a shoulder, I figured he re-injured the bad shoulder and will probably be out for a couple of weeks anyway–haven’t heard anything though.

          I was concerned when Ratliffe went out. He’d been playing well–Sutton will have to step up if Ratliffe is out for any period of time. Or maybe they kick Houston to the 3 tech more often.

          I think the read option defense improved from the first to second halves–they got burned a couple of times early. And ST still needs to be fixed. Saw they had Mundy playing on at least one phase of ST.

          1. mdavis

            Yeah, at least Conte is creating turnovers though. If he’s going to do nothing else, at least that contributes. We’ll see if he can go this week, or if its the McCray show.

            Ratliffe was a beast last night before he went out. Sutton played well though, he was rotating in a lot.

            That secondary is really thin though. Luckily, they have an extra day for both WRs to rest, and to get the next man up ready.

            Just a little side note.

            McCown: 362 yards 2 TD 3 INT 67.9 comp % 57.9 QBR 75.1 Rating
            Cutler: 525 yards 6 TD 2 INT 68.7 comp % 63.5 QBR 99.7 Rating

            I’m not sayin, I’m just sayin.

            1. frank

              Agreed on all counts. And thanks for the side note–it may come in handy when talking to my Cutler-basher friends.

              1. mdavis

                not that i’m rooting against McCown…I just can’t take people who think he’s the 2nd coming of Rich Gannon.

                and that Bucs team, woof. Lost two weeks in a row to back up QBs. Derek Anderson and Austin Davis. Davis is actlly a 3rd stringer.

                1. frank

                  I understand that–I’m not rooting against him either. But this says something to those who argued that he’s a better QB than Cutler.

                  1. mdavis

                    Yeah agreed, agreed. And also to Lovie’s continued disaster of hiring OCs. They have some talent down there. VJax, Evans looks good, big young TE, Martin. Their defense though to me has been the surprise…a lot of talent, and they’ve lost to a back-up and a 3rd stringer. Yikes.

                    Tillman officially to IR, which I think everyone saw coming from his reaction, but is still sad to see. I’d imagine it ends his time in Chicago, and possibly his career. Fales was brought back to the P-squad, which i think is good, frees up a roster spot while continues his development. Fiammetta also brought back, maybe he can help in the run game this week if he’s healthy. Jets have a tough front 7, but their secondary is a joke, so hopefully the WRs get healthy. But I’d expect another 35-40 pass night for Cutler. One more roster move will be coming, as we both expect Hayden to come back. Could be a receiver, they currently have Marshall, Jeffrey, Holmes, Morgan, Bellamy, Williams all on the roster. Could be Draughn who was an absolute joke on ST.

                    1. mdavis

                      Wow. Wright just tweeted out that it doesn’t sound like Hayden will be back. Doesn’t want to come back. Maybe got tired of the constant back and forth this year.

                    2. frank

                      So if it’s not Hayden, Isiah Frey? That would be my guess. And yes, they are thin at receiver. Tillman tweeted that it’s not over, but I don’t think he’ll be back with the Bears–and that would be sad. I think he deserves to remain with the team for his entire career and retire as a Bear. The Bills and the 49ers both have pretty good front 7s as well–so if the O line can handle this one, the receivers will have a chance for a big game–all the receivers.

                      You’d think that in all this time, Lovie would’ve been able to find a good offensive coordinator–even if by mistake. However, I seem to recall that the team was scoring well under Martz, at least for a stretch–but that scheme kills QBs. Lots of turnovers, lots of sacks . . .

  8. mdavis

    yeah Frey was elevated from the P-Sqaud, as well as Rashad Ross (WR). Williams, Draughn (brutal on ST last week), Mulligan all were cut. So, unless they play McManis on def, and he had a real good camp I thought, I expect it will be Frey.

    As long as they can establish some sort of run game, i think Cutler could have a big game. Milliner gets beat regularly, and I don’t even know who there other corner is.

    1. frank

      On top of that, Milliner’s not even 100% right now. Their front 7 is good, so establishing the run won’t be easy. But even the threat of the run should open up the passing game and allow the Bears to exploit a weak secondary. But that’s probably why Fiammetta’s back–to be the lead blocker for Forte. Forte isn’t a straight downhill runner, so a blocking fullback should help.

      1. mdavis

        yeah, they’ve been real unbalanced so far. I wanna say 36 runs to 85 passes…somewhere in there? Now, I don’t think they’ll ever be balanced, that’s not Trestman’s style, but maybe a little more would be good. They’ll have their work cut out for them to get the run game going, but they can do some passes that are an extension of that. Screens, swings, and flats. But yeah that secondary is a joke, and Milliner I wanna say is dealing with an ankle?

  9. frank

    Bears signed Demontre Hurst to fill the last spot on the 53 man roster. Depth move for the secondary and special teams.

    1. mdavis

      I liked Hurst. Played in game 1. Still curious to see how that nickel spot shakes out. Frey? or is it Hurst? McManis? I didn’t see anything in regards to that. Sounds like Jeffrey practiced on a limited basis yesterday, Marshall did not. I think both will play though.

      1. frank

        I think it’ll probably be Frey–at least to start. He’s experienced and can step in right away.

        Hester broke the record this past weekend–would’ve loved to see him do it as a Bear. He had a good receiving game in the opener too–5 for 99, I think. But he’s only caught two passes since. Made a veiled comment about Cutler, saying that he has a QB now that’ll get him the ball–something like that. Also read that the Bears offered offensive time for him but he refused–don’t know if that was last year or this offseason.

        1. mdavis

          agreed, probably Frey. McManis has been out all week, so I’d be surprised if he’s active.

          Agreed on Hester, but thats business unfortunately. Read those comments the same as you with Cutler. They just never clicked. Cutler didn’t trust Hester. And that’s that. Had his reasons, whatever they were, but as a QB you’re not gonna throw the ball to a guy if you don’t trust hm to do the correct thing. Not to mention, Lovie and his OCs never found a way to properly utilize Hester. And I believe when Trestman was hired he asked Hester if he wanted to contribute on O, and he declined.

          Wondering who the returner will be this week. Holmes on PR I’m sure, Ross on KR? Doubt its Perry, he kinda sucks.

          1. frank

            No, they never did click–Hester was pretty inconsistent. And it didn’t help when Lovie insisted that Hester be a wideout when Martz said that he would “stupid good” in the slot. Yes, from what I’ve read, Trestman did ask Hester about playing offense, and Hester did decline.

            I read that it will be Frey at the nickel. Agreed on Holmes as PR, but as to the KR–God only knows . . .

            1. mdavis

              big opportunity tonight for the bears. Packers don’t look all that tough. Would give Chicago a lot of momentum coming off last week, to win tonight going into that matchup next Sunday.

              1. frank

                Agreed–let’s hope we see the Bears team that played San Francisco and not the one that played Buffalo.

                1. mdavis

                  big win last night. sloppy at times, but you’re gonna have those games and you gotta get it done. Cutler man, the numbers weren’t huge, and yeah he got away with a couple, but for the most part nothing overly stupid. With no run game at all, it was all on him, facing constant pressure. O line did a nice job keeping him up right for the most part, Alshon made a couple of big catches. Bennett earning his pay check.

                  Very pleased with the def. Kept both running backs under 50 yards. I think total, gave up something like 26 for 114. You’ll take that. The kids showed up on the stat sheet, Sutton and Ego. Allen is gettin closer. 3 games with no sacks sucks, but he was in Geno’s face a lot of the night. Bostic had 13 tackles, but that dropped INT at the end of the game, i coulda killed him. Fuller….just wow. Kid is so impressive. Always around the football, and looks like he’s been taking notes on the Peanut Punch. And just really, more props to that defense, got crushed with injuries again. Mundy, who has been very solid and a pleasant surprise out, Conte came out with a shoulder (seems like a weekly occurance), Vereen made a play in the back of the end zone.

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