MOBILE, Ala. — "Relentless equals high velocity, nonstop."
That coaching slogan sure sounds like it could have come out of the Rod Marinelli book of wisdom.
But it didn't.
It is the motto of the new Bears defensive coordinator, not the old.
Those who know Mel Tucker well say those are words he coaches by and lives by.
They describe him as a highly energetic, dedicated, bright coach.
That is why the 41-year-old has interviewed for head coaching jobs four times over the last six years (three in the NFL and at the University of Wisconsin). That is why he was a defensive coordinator candidate for the Browns and Bills this year as well as the Bears.
He was the Bears' top choice even though he has virtually no ties to the staff, other than playing college ball with director of pro scouting Chris Ballard.
"He's an excellent coach, a really sharp guy," said Jaguars linebackers coach Mark Duffner, who worked under Tucker the last four seasons. "First and foremost he is a high character person. He is a very organized, very detailed rising star in this game. He has a very good depth of knowledge and a hungry mind to learn more."
Tucker, who essentially is expected to be the head coach of the Bears' defense, keeps a relatively low profile, more like Marinelli than Buddy Ryan.
Tucker is like Marinelli in other ways too.
"There is some carryover to his philosophy and what they have done previously in Chicago," said Vikings head coach Les Frazier, who attempted to hire Tucker in 2012 to be his defensive coordinator. "What they did in Jacksonville was similar to what they have done in Chicago."
The Bears are keeping Tucker off limits to the media at the Senior Bowl, but word is he will keep the status quo with virtually all facets of the defense. Even though Tucker has experience in both a three- and four-man fronts, he is not expected to make any radical changes in Chicago.
In fact, a source said he even is retaining Lovie Smith's terminology, meaning he will have to adjust more than his players.
Some coaches might have shied away from the challenge of following Smith and Marinelli, who were successful and revered in the locker room.
By all accounts, Tucker is undaunted.
What does a Tucker defense look like? It is part Barry Alvarez (his college coach) and part Nick Saban (he worked for him at Michigan State and Louisiana State).
"What they did in Jacksonville is similar to what Lovie did, but they had a different way of getting to it," said Panthers offensive coordinator Mike Shula, who worked with Tucker in Jacksonville and has coached against him. "He tries to make defenses go the long way and it made it a lot harder for offenses to score because a lot of them aren't disciplined enough to do that. Yet there is an attack style. He has a sneaky blitz package that you have to make sure you are prepared for."
Tucker's 2012 defense played a lot of Cover-2 and a lot of quarters. The undermanned Jaguars did not blitz much.
Duffner, a longtime college and pro coach who has been coaching NFL linebackers since 1997, said Tucker does not blitz just to blitz. He will do it only if he thinks it can take advantage of a protection.
Tucker likely believed he didn't have the players to take a lot of risks last season. He will have better players with the Bears.
"If he sees you are struggling with something, he will attack it," said Titans head coach Mike Munchak, who has been an AFC South rival of Tucker's for the last four years. "If he has a group he feels can get after you, he'll do that. He does a good job of keeping them in games. Why take a risk if you don't need to? Lot of times he didn't have all the talent he wanted, so he did a good job of using it wisely."
Just because Tucker does not call defensive plays with a daredevil mentality does not mean he is predictable. He is known as a coach who bends to accommodate circumstances.
"He's not a guy who you can peg as it's just this way all the time," Duffner said. "He will mix and ply the scheme to his players first, and then try to utilize their abilities to make plays against the opponent."
Tucker tries to bring out the best in his players by keeping a pulse on them as individuals. He can be demanding and holds them to high standards, but he also is sensitive and communicative.
"If he sees a player who is frustrated he will sit down and talk to that individual, spend time with him, make sure he understands what the issue is," Duffner said. "He is kind of rare in that regard. He is very aware of attitude of the team, and he will use a variety of ways to address it."
Tucker motivates with many techniques, as Marinelli does. As part of the way he stresses takeaways, Tucker even brings a hockey stick to practices to remind players to "take a shot on goal."
That stick might look pretty good in the hands of Charles Tillman.