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Thursday, January 2, 2014
Mel Tucker's status with Bears up in the air

By Jeff Dickerson

LAKE FOREST, Ill. – Chicago Bears head coach Marc Trestman offered no definitive statement on the future of embattled defensive coordinator Mel Tucker, but Trestman praised the way Tucker handled the injury-riddled defense on multiple occasions during Thursday’s 90-minute joint news conference with team general manager Phil Emery.

However, Trestman said a direct conversation between himself and Tucker still needs to take place before he can comment on the status of his coaching staff.

“I don’t want anybody to read into anything what we are doing,” Trestman said. “Everything is on the table. We’re going through a very thoughtful and methodical process here. Other than that, we’ve talked enough at these press conferences that I’m hopeful you won’t [draw conclusions on the staff]. We’re going to look at everything because we have an obligation to do that and what I can do to get this football team better.

"Everything is on the table. Again, we’re just three days into this. All we’ve done is looked at some tape. This is a process that’s going to involve not just myself, but all of our coaches. It’ll be a process where we’ve left everything on the table.”

The Bears finished 2013 ranked No. 30 in total defense and dead last in rushing defense and yards allowed per play. The defense was also tied for 30th in points allowed and ranked 26th in sacks per pass play.

But the group did suffer key injuries to cornerback Charles Tillman, linebacker Lance Briggs, defensive tackles Henry Melton and Nate Collins, middle linebacker D.J. Williams, nickel back Kelvin Hayden and defensive lineman Turk McBride. Veteran defensive tackle Sedrick Ellis also opted to retire on the eve of training camp, further depleting the Bears’ depth on the defensive line.

When relatively healthy, the Bears' defense put up respectable numbers over the first three games of the regular season, but their performance sharply regressed as the year wore on.

“I think it’s a real shame that Mel got the raw end of the deal,” Bears cornerback Tim Jennings said.

Bears quarterback Jay Cutler said on ESPN 1000’s “The Jay Cutler Show” on Monday that he believes Tucker will be the team’s defensive coordinator until “he lands a head coaching job” either in the NFL or college ranks.

Trestman said he and Emery work together when shaping the coaching staff, but Emery clarified that Trestman has final say on the matter.