Bears defensive coordinator shrugs off scrutiny
LAKE FOREST, Ill. (AP) After his defense allowed more than 50 points for the second consecutive game, Chicago Bears coordinator Mel Tucker says the pressure he feels comes from some place other than disgruntled fans.
''I don't feel any pressure other than what I put on myself, and that's a lot of pressure,'' Tucker said.
Tucker's defense has dropped to 26th in the league and 28th against the pass heading into Sunday's home game against Minnesota. Last Sunday's 55-14 blowout loss in Green Bay came on the heels of a 51-23 loss at New England, making the Bears the first team to allow 50 points or more back to back since the 1923 Rochester Jeffersons.
The struggles of quarterback Jay Cutler and the offense are often the focus of critics in Chicago. But a defense that used to be the backbone of the franchise is bordering on laughingstock status. Coach Marc Trestman said this week he is planning no staff changes, and Tucker said he's not receiving specific pressure from his boss.
''I just feel pressure to coach the best that I can,'' he said. ''That's the pressure I put on myself. I've never been anywhere where there wasn't pressure to win and there wasn't pressure to play well.''
The Bears have been outscored in the first half of the last three games 94-7, including 42-0 Sunday that was a franchise record for points allowed in a half.
''Obviously we were not prepared enough and our effort and everything we do needs to be better,'' Tucker said. ''There is nothing that was good enough and regardless if we thought we were ready going into the game, obviously we need to make sure we are even more ready going into this next game.''
Chicago's defense finished 30th in the league and last against the run in 2013 under Tucker, but Trestman stood behind him. Tucker is now in his second year as defensive coordinator after doing the same job for four years in Jacksonville.
Players are defending Tucker.
''I do believe in the system,'' veteran Bears linebacker Lance Briggs said. ''And I believe in the guys that are in that (locker) room, that we all have in the room. And when I say those guys, it means my teammates and my coaches.''
Briggs admitted the confidence level of the team could be better, although he said it doesn't have to stay that way.
''The confidence level? Shoot. I've never been in a situation like this and the last year,'' he said. ''As tough as it is, today is definitely better than yesterday and you could say the same about the day before. And really, at this point, it's every one day at a time and it's one play at a time. And it's one practice at a time.''
Players acknowledge hearing the criticism about their coaches and the team, but try to forget it.
''It would be the most stressful life in the world,'' defensive end Jared Allen said. ''Goodness, we'd be king one day, we'd be dead the next. We have to focus on what we know and we know football.''
Even family members are catching heat these days. Trestman said his two daughters have become targets for what he calls ''Twitter terrorists.''
''No. 1, that's a personal issue,'' he said. ''That's a family issue and we'll work through that. The thing that that brings up is that there's another side of the coin and there's a lot of support out there for my family and for what we're going through during this adversity. I try to find the glass loaded up with good things, too.''
After starting the season with high expectations, the team is wondering what kind of reception they will get Sunday in their first home game since Oct. 19. Chicago (3-6) is at the bottom of the NFC North, one game behind the Vikings (4-5).
''I understand the impatience from the fans,'' Briggs said. ''Obviously this city deserves better. We deserve better. We deserve better for ourselves.''
Notes: Tight end Martellus Bennett (ribs), cornerback Tim Jennings (knee), wide receiver Brandon Marshall (ankle) and tackle Jordan Mills (ribs) all missed Wednesday's practice. ... The team signed former Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver B.J. Cunningham and guard Antoine McClain to the practice squad. McClain has spent time with Baltimore, Oakland, Buffalo and New Orleans.