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Emotional Bears defense knows change is looming

MINNEAPOLIS — They were emotional because they made a stop, and Lord knows that hadn’t happened much this season. But it was more than that.

Defensive coordinator Mel Tucker was seen with tears in his eyes Sunday after the Bears stuffed the Vikings’ Matt Asiata on third-and-1 and fouth-and-1, getting the offense the ball back with about three minutes left and a chance to win. Jay Cutler fizzled, though, in a 13-9 loss Sunday at TCF Bank Stadium.

“That was pretty memorable,” defensive tackle Jeremiah Ratliff said of the two run stuffs. “I’ll take that one with me.”

Tucker figures to, too — though he’ll likely take it elsewhere.

It’s nearly impossible to imagine a scenario where Tucker, whose unit allowed the most points in franchise history last year and the second-most this season, returns for another year. His players seemed to sense that, even as they claimed no knowledge of any changes.

“If you go by the standard of the NFL, which is winning, we didn’t win many games this year,” safety Ryan Mundy said. “You don’t win many games, there’s always going to be changes that are going to be made.

“We don’t know who’s going to be doing what. I anticipate some changes being made.”

Ratliff said there was “enough blame to go around for everybody,” but praised his coach.

“I got a lot of respect for Mel,” he said. “The way this game is, whatever happens, happens. We’re not in control of the decisions they make.”

In a game with little more than draft position at stake — the 5-11 Bears will choose seventh — the Bears’ 13 points allowed tied season low. Their 311 yards allowed was the third-fewest.

At the fourth-down stop — linebacker Jon Bostic made the tackle — was, not counting kneel-downs, the play of their season.

“I feel like that play goes back to our coaches,” linebacker Christian Jones said. “They really emphasize situations like that. We did a great job responding and playing hard; that’s what we wanted to do — we wanted to come out and play hard for these guys.”

The rookie said he’s never been coached as hard as this season, crediting Tucker — whose fate the Bears weighed last offseason — and position coach Reggie Herring.

“They really focus on the details,” he said. “Especially coach Reggie — he’s on me every day about gap responsibilities, how to use my hands, proper leverage. I feel like I got the most out of him, and he’s really helped me grow as a linebacker.

“You build relationships with these guys. These are the guys that took a chance on me, bringing me in as a free agent. So it’s something you think about.

“But (change) out of my hands.”

They’ll have closure soon enough.

“It’s not on the coaches, it’s on us,” Bostic said. “It falls back to us. They coached us up the way we should be fitting the run, the way we should be stopping this play, the way we should be stopping that play. And it’s our job to go execute.”

Email: pfinley@suntimes.com

Twitter: @patrickfinley