Bears linebacker Darryl Sharpton is a Mel Tucker guy.
‘‘I love the defensive coordinator,’’ Sharpton said when discussing his impressive production so quickly after joining the Bears. ‘‘I love his attitude, his physical attitude. That gets me hyped up.
‘‘Mel coaches being violent and relentless. That’s right up my alley — playing relentless, violent and fast. He loves that style of football. I’ve always done really well with coaches that coach that style of football and emphasize it. It gets me excited to play the game.’’
That showed from the start. Sharpton, who started six games last season for the Texans, was cut by the Redskins after suffering an injury during training camp. He signed with the Bears on
Sept. 25, started against the Falcons 17 days later and led the team with 10 tackles. He had 11 tackles against the Dolphins the next week and six tackles in 16 snaps against the Patriots before he suffered a hamstring injury.
It remains to be seen how many Mel Tucker guys there are on the Bears’ defense. Sharpton’s enthusiastic support of his coordinator is one of the few unsolicited endorsements of Tucker and his defense I’ve
heard in Tucker’s two seasons with the Bears.
Not that the Bears don’t want to play hard for Tucker, but in two seasons there has been little evidence that this defense has embraced him or his system — a far cry from the way the Bears were emotionally tethered to Lovie Smith and, in later years, Rod Marinelli.
Those defenses, which had the advantage of Brian Urlacher and Lance Briggs in their prime but weren’t always powerhouses, were defined by their connection to Smith. This defense has been defined by a lack of execution and too much miscommunication.
‘‘The most disappointing part is that we have no identity,’’ two-time Pro Bowl cornerback Tim Jennings said after the Bears lost at home to the Dolphins on Oct. 19. ‘‘We still don’t know who we are.’’
It wasn’t any better last week.
‘‘There was confusion all night,’’ Jennings said after Aaron Rodgers threw six touchdown passes in the first half of a 55-14 loss to the Packers last week at Lambeau Field.
Whether they were good or bad, the Bears had a knack for recovering when Smith was under siege after a dreadful performance. In 2008, the Bears lost to the Packers 37-3, then beat the Rams 27-3. In 2010, they lost to the Patriots 36-7, then beat the Vikings 40-14. In 2012, they lost to the 49ers 32-7, then beat the Vikings 21-14.
Briggs insists he’s on board with Tucker. He just hasn’t had the opportunity to express it, he said.
‘‘We put ourselves in this position, but we’re always defending something that we’re doing on the field, so I never really had the time to say, ‘Hey, I believe in the system,’ ’’ Briggs said. ‘‘I do. I believe in the system. And I believe in the guys that are in that room — my teammates and my coaches.’’
If they believe in Tucker, they better start showing it because he needs a lot of help. He needs better communication and better execution. More than anything, he needs a lot more Sharptons.