Last year, the Bears defense was horrible. They ranked 30th in the league overall, 32nd against the rush. In fact, there were third string running backs who were gaining 100 yards or more on the defense. Mel Tucker wants to change that this season.
In order for a defense to do well, it starts with the defensive line. When the line is stopping the run or putting pressure on the quarterback, then it greatly helps the rest of the defense. It alleviates the pressure on the linebackers, cornerbacks and safeties.
One example of this is the Bears safeties, Chris Conte and Major Wright. Two seasons ago, when the line was healthy and productive, the deficiencies of Conte and Wright were masked. Their inability to tackle properly and their inability to read plays didn’t really hurt because Julius Peppers, Henry Melton and company were excellent.
When injuries hit the line, and Peppers having a bad year, You saw how bad the safeties were.
Speaking to reporters after minicamp ended, Tucker spoke about the need for things to work up front. “We all know that in order to have a great defense, it starts with the defensive line. There’s been a lot of focus there.”
The Bears certainly focused on the line. They brought in Jared Allen, LaMarr Houston, and Willie Young through free agency. They also re-signed Jeremiah Ratliff, and drafted two linemen in the draft, Ego Ferguson and Will Sutton.
Tucker mentioned how the defense has to bring back the toughness. “We’re putting a premium on toughness, and being rugged and being stout, and having tremendous anchor. on our d-line. In order to do that you have to be tough and you have to be physical. I think that’s what we have with those guys”
People always say “The game is won in the trenches” and that is true. Bothe the offensive and defensive lines are crucial for success. When Jay Cutler and the offense did not have the proper line, he was on his back a lot and the offense struggled. When the line got fixed, the offense was the second highest scoring offense in the league.
We will see what happens if the defensive line this year is what Bears fans are used to seeing. If so, then the team may finally have the combination of offense and defense to produce something special. And they could get off of Mel Tucker’s back, too.