LAKE FOREST, Ill. (AP) - Chicago Bears defensive coordinator Mel Tucker will have two new coaches on his staff for next season.
Tucker is keeping his job after Chicago's porous defense played a key role in its 8-8 season, but the Bears announced Sunday that defensive line coach Mike Phair and linebackers coach Tim Tibesar had been dismissed. Hit hard by injuries, Tucker's unit allowed 29.9 points and 394.6 yards per game in his first year in the position.
''Our team evaluation remains ongoing. We believe Mel is the right person to lead our defensive unit,'' Bears coach Marc Trestman said in a statement. ''He fully understands where we need to improve, has the skill set and leadership to oversee the changes that need to be made and to execute our plan to get the results we know are necessary.''
Phair was a holdover from Lovie Smith's tenure as Bears coach, joining the team in 2011 as an assistant defensive line coach. Tibesar was hired a year ago from Purdue, where he was the defensive coordinator and linebackers coach.
The rest of the coaching staff is expected to return for next season.
''Our search for a defensive line and linebackers coach has begun and we will be looking for the best candidates whose experience can bring the most out of our veteran and young players in both areas,'' Trestman said.
Chicago's trouble on defense was due in part to a rash of injuries on that side of the ball. Starters Lance Briggs, Charles Tillman, D.J. Williams and Henry Melton each missed big chunks of the season.