New Bears coach Marc Trestman hoped that Rod Marinelli would stay with the team and remain their defensive coordinator. But Marinelli opted to leave to be the Dallas Cowboys' defensive line coach.
Because of Lovie Smith, who was fired after nine seasons with the Bears. That's what Marinelli told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram.
"There's no doubt [it was hard to leave]," Marinelli told the Star-Telegam. "But my No. 1 relationship is with Lovie Smith. Yeah, he's probably one of my best friends in life, and I believe in him and I went there because of him and it's not the right place for me without him."
Bears players hoped that Marinelli would stay after Smith was dismissed. Marinelli, who is reunited with Monte Kiffin in Dallas, helped develop Henry Melton, Corey Wootton and Stephen Paea into starters for the Bears.
The Bears' defense allowed 17.3 points per game last season, the third-best mark in the NFL. Trestman said he's confident that new defensive coordinator Mel Tucker will be able to continue that success.
"I didn't know Mel prior to the interview. He came highly recommended," Trestman said. "After speaking with him, not even talking football, for a couple of hours, just talking to him in general about his personal life, ideologies and philosophies and how he dealt with players, how he wanted to present himself to the team, (I) thought he was exactly in the right place at the right time.
"Once I got into the meeting room with him and (defensive backs coach) Jon (Hoke) and (defensive line coach) Mike (Phair), I felt completely confident that he was exactly the right guy for this job. I think you'll really see that in him. He's got tremendous potential as a leader, and his ability as a teacher is as good as anybody I've been around."
Tucker has already said that he won't change much about the Bears' defense. He'll learn their terminology, while adding a few different wrinkles of his own.
"We want to hit the ground running," Tucker said. "This time of year, just like every other team in the NFL, you're trying to find a way to get better. That's what we're doing right now. We're just moving forward."