The third piece of coach Marc Trestmans senior team clicked into place late Friday when former Jacksonville Jaguars defensive coordinator Mel Tucker was selected as defensive coordinator.
The step leaves out current defensive backs coach Jon Hoke and two college candidates as Trestman continues to lean on the NFL for his top staff additions.
Tucker joins offensive coordinator Aaron Kromer from New Orleans and special teams coordinator Joe DeCamillis from Dallas as the heads of the three phases of Bears on-field ops.
The Tucker hiring was part of a handful of hirings Friday. Dallas running backs coach Skip Peete was signed to replace Tim Jennings as Bears running backs coach.
Andy Bischoff, from Trestmans staff with the Montreal Alouettes, was hired as Bears tight ends coach. Michael Sinclair, defensive line coach with the Alouettes, joins Trestmans staff as assistant defensive line coach.
The Tucker move raised some eyebrows around the NFL because of the abysmal 2012 season that the Jacksonville defense suffered through. The Bears ran up 41 points on the Jaguars in their Oct. 7 game in Jacksonville with a season-high 501 yards and three offensive touchdowns. Jacksonville tied for 29th in scoring defense with nearly 28 points per game. The Jaguars were 28th in yardage allowed and 27th in scoring defense in 2010.
Before his stint in Jacksonville, Tucker was defensive backs coach for the Cleveland Browns from 2005-07 before being promoted to defensive coordinator in 2008 after the firing of Todd Grantham. When the Browns went 4-12, Tucker was let go along with the rest of coach Romeo Crennels staff.
Tucker was co-defensive coordinator at Ohio State in 2004 and was defensive backs coach when the Buckeyes won the national championship in 2002. Before Ohio State he was a member of Nick Sabans staffs at LSU and Michigan State.
Chicago Bears training camp is right around the corner with the first practice (non-padded) scheduled for July 21.
Bears veterans and rookies will report a few days ahead of that first session to acclimate themselves to their new (for some) surroundings. Rookies report on July 16, with veterans coming three days later on July 19.
All eyes will be on QB Mitch Trubisky and the potentially high-flying offense under coach Matt Nagy. Training camp will take on extra importance because of the plethora of new faces on the roster and coaching staff as well as the installation of a completely new offensive scheme. It's critical that Trubisky builds chemistry with wide receivers Allen Robinson, Taylor Gabriel, Anthony Miller and Kevin White, all of whom he's never thrown a regular-season pass to. Add Trey Burton to that mix and a lot of miscues should be expected in the preseason.
The rookie class is led by linebacker Roquan Smith, who remains unsigned. With less than 30 days until rookies are required to report, a greater sense of urgency -- even if it's not quite a panic -- is certainly creeping in. Assuming he's signed in time, Smith should earn a starting role early in training camp and ascend to one of the defense's top all-around players.
The Bears have higher-than-usual expectations heading into the 2018 season making fans eager for summer practices to get underway.
The Chicago Bears need a big season from outside linebacker Leonard Floyd. He's the team's best pass-rush option and the only legitimate threat to post double-digit sacks this year.
Floyd joined the Bears as a first-round pick (No. 9 overall) in 2016 and has flashed freakish talent at times. The problem has been his health; he's appeared in only 22 games through his first two seasons.
Floyd's rookie year -- especially Weeks 5 through 9 -- showed a glimpse of the kind of disruptive force he's capable of becoming. He registered seven sacks and looked poised to breakout in 2017. Unfortunately, injuries limited him to only 10 games and four sacks.
Despite his disappointing sophomore season, NFL.com's Gil Brandt has high hopes for Floyd in 2018. The long-time NFL personnel executive named Floyd as the Bear with the best chance to earn a first-time trip to the Pro Bowl.
CHICAGO BEARS: Leonard Floyd, OLB, third NFL season. Floyd had seven sacks as a rookie in 2016, but missed six games last season due to a knee injury. He's a talented guy who can drop into coverage or rush with his hand on the ground and should play much better this season. He also has become much stronger since coming into the league.
The Bears will be in a heap of trouble if Floyd doesn't emerge as a Pro Bowl caliber player. There aren't many pass-rushing options on the roster outside of Floyd aside from Aaron Lynch and rookie Kylie Fitts. Neither edge defender has a resume strong enough to rely on as insurance.
It's a critical year for Floyd's future in Chicago, too. General manager Ryan Pace will decide whether to pick up Floyd's fifth-year option in his rookie contract next offseason. If he plays well, it's a no-brainer. If not, Pace could be looking at two straight first-round picks (see: Kevin White) that he's declined the extra year.
We're a long way from that decision. Until then, the Bears' season may sink or swim based on its pass rush. It begins -- and ends -- with Floyd.