After being named head coach of the Chicago Bears, Marc Trestman wasted no time assembling his coordinators: Aaron Kromer, offensive coordinator; Mel Tucker, defensive coordinator; Joe DeCamillis, special teams coordinator.
Let's take a first look at the three men that will be directly in charge of the Bears' three phases in 2013.
Aaron Kromer, offensive coordinator/offensive line coach
Kromer has worked as the offensive line coach for the New Orleans Saints since 2009. Last year, when the BountyGate suspensions were handed down, Kromer served as the team's interim head coach for the first six games of the season.
Kromer began his career as a graduate assistant at Miami University. He was elevated to tight ends/H-backs coach from 1992-1997 and was named offensive line coach in 1998. He then moved on to Northwestern, where he was O-line coach from 1999-2000.
In 2001, Kromer jumped to the NFL as an assistant offensive line coach for the Oakland Raiders, where he worked with Trestman, who was the team's offensive coordinator. Kroger then spent three years, 2005-2007, as senior assistant/offensive line coach for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, before joining the Saints as running backs coach in 2008.
Kromer has never been a coordinator in the NFL. That shouldn't be a problem though, as Trestman will be running the offense. Kromer has coached offensive lines his entire career and that is where his focus will be for the Bears.
The protection under Kromer in New Orleans has been outstanding. The Saints have finished 3rd, 2nd and 5th in fewest sacks allowed the past three years respectively. In that same timeframe, the Bears finished 25th, 27th and 32nd in fewest sacks allowed.
With Kromer guiding the offensive line, the Saints have also been strong in the run game, finishing in the top 10 in rushing two of the past three seasons. The biggest change he'll bring to the rushing attack will be his use of zone schemes. Under former coordinator Mike Tice, the Bears used straight man blocking, with lots of pulls and traps. Kromer relies on a traditional zone blocking system, where linemen moving in tandem and pick off defenders as the go.
Zone schemes have proven to be very successful in the NFL. Redskins coach Mike Shanahan has always zone blocked and his teams are annually at or near the top of the league in rushing. Under Shanahan this season, Alfred Morris – a sixth-round rookie – finished second in the league in rushing, behind only Adrian Peterson. It's the type of scheme that can make Pro Bowlers out of nobodies, so imagine what it will do for Matt Forte.
Kromer and Trestman worked together for three years in Oakland. Click here to view the numbers analysis from those three seasons.
When you take into consideration what Kromer's offensive lines have accomplished in the past, there's reason to believe Chicago's front five – the bane of the offense for years – will improve. The front office must get some new parts along the offensive line but Kromer's presence will give the unit an immediate boost.
Mel Tucker, defensive coordinator
Tucker has been the defensive coordinator for the Jacksonville Jaguars the past four seasons (2009-2012). He spent the previous four years with the Cleveland Browns, three of those as defensive backs coach (2005-2007) and one as defensive coordinator (2008). Before that, he spent eight seasons coaching defensive backs at the collegiate level, most recently with Ohio State (2001-2004).
Tucker served as Jacksonville's interim coach for the final five games of the 2011 season, after Jack Del Rio was fired. He went 2-3 as a head coach.
Here are the rankings of Tucker's units during his five years as an NFL defensive coordinator.
Overall defense: 30th
Rushing defense: 30th
Passing defense: 22nd
Notable here is that Tucker did not take over play-calling duties in Jacksonville until 2011. Before that, Del Rio called the plays for the Jags. As you can see, in his first year calling plays, Jacksonville's defense went from 28th overall to 5th overall.
Beyond that though, there really isn't much to be excited about. Other than 2011, Tucker's defenses annually finished 23rd or worse overall, 22nd or worse against the run and 14th or worse against the pass.
Yet what is most troublesome is the lack of sacks by Tucker's defenses. In all five years, his teams have finished 25th or worse in total sacks. In fact, his units have been one of the three worst NFL teams in terms of total sacks in four of his five years as a coordinator. That lack of pressure up front is not going to go over well against Aaron Rodgers and Matthew Stafford.
Tucker's resume is far from impressive. The numbers speak for themselves. Trestman is an offensive minded coach, so Tucker will have relative autonomy when it comes to the defense. The hope is that, with some better players to work with and a hands-off approach from the head coach, Tucker can keep Chicago's defense playing at a high level.
Obviously, we'll have to wait and see if that actually happens.
Joe DeCamillis, special teams coordinator/assistant head coach
DeCamillis has worked as a special teams coach in the NFL for the past 25 seasons. He's worked with five franchises, the most recent being the Dallas Cowboys (2009-2012). He was one of at least 14 coaches to interview for the Bears' head coaching position this offseason.
DeCamillis served as ST coach for the Atlanta Falcons from 1997-2006. That's where he first met GM Phil Emery, who was director of scouting for the Falcons from 2004-2008.
Here are the Cowboys' special teams return and coverage rankings the past three seasons under DeCamillis:
Kickoff return average: 29th
Punt return average: 4th
Opponent kickoff average: 6th
Opponent punt average: 16th
KO return average: 20th
Punt return average: 27th
Opponent KO average: 5th
Opponent punt average: 14th
KO return average: 23rd
Punt return average: 2nd
Opponent KO average: 27th
Opponent punt average: 3rd
There is both good and bad in here as far as DeCamillis' return and coverage units. In essence, he's an average special teams coach. Not great, but not awful. And really, there's no way he could ever live up to his predecessor, Dave Toub, who is the best special teams coach in the business.
Under Lovie Smith, the Bears put a premium on special teams play. It remains to be seen if that will be the case under Trestman. DeCamillis has some big shoes to fill. We'll find out if he's up to the task.
There has been some question about whether Trestman has the personality to command a room and get the full attention of his players. After hearing him speak at his introductory press conference, I can understand why that's a concern. Trestman is highly intelligent when it comes to the game of football but he's not a larger-than-life persona that can easily fire up the troops.
So it's not surprising that two of his coordinators have head coaching experience, while DeCamillis was a head coach candidate as recently as this offseason. From what I'm told, both Tucker and DeCamillis have very fiery personalities.
In my mind, these moves were made, in part, due to their personalities. Kromer, Tucker and DeCamillis can be the rah-rah coaches that get the troops rearing to go on game days. They can take that load off Trestman, whose main focus, for as long as he's in Chicago, will be on quarterback Jay Cutler.
Jeremy Stoltz is Publisher of BearReport.com and a member of the Pro Football Writers of America. Follow Bear Report on Twitter and discuss this topic on our message boards. To become a subscriber to the Bear Report Web site or magazine, click here.