Bears coach Marc Trestman and his staff have a lot of work to do this off-season to rehab arguably the worst defense in franchise history.
That defensive staff, under embattled coordinator Mel Tucker, gained extensive experience Thursday morning when the team made official the hiring of assistant coaches Reggie Herring and Paul Pasqualoni.
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Pasqualoni, 64, replaces Mike Phair as the defensive line coach and has 42 years of coaching experience, including 22 as a college head coach and six seasons as an NFL assistant. Herring, 54, succeeds Tim Tibesar as linebackers coach and has 33 years of coaching experience, including eight as a linebackers coach in the NFL.
Both coaches worked together on the Dallas Cowboys staff in 2010 when Pasqualoni was a defensive coordinator/defensive line coach and Herring was the linebackers coach. That staff also included Bears special teams coordinator Joe DeCamillis and running backs coach Skip Peete.
The Bears' defense, which was hobbled by multiple serious injuries to Pro Bowl players and other starters in 2013, allowed the most points (478), total yards (6,313) and rushing yards (2,583) in franchise history.
Tucker's defense finished No. 32 in the 32-team league in yards per play, rushing yards and average gain per rushing play allowed. It was 30th in total yards allowed, tied for 30th in points allowed, 27th in average gain allowed per pass, 26th in sacks and 25th in third-down efficiency.
Phair and Tibesar were fired on Jan. 12 by the Bears while Tucker, to the surprise of many, was retained.
At that time, Trestman said: "We do not attribute our lack of success on defense to two individuals. We need to improve in all areas defensively, and that will be a focal point for us this off-season. We believe Mel is the right person to lead our defensive unit."
Most recently, Pasqualoni was the head coach at the University of Connecticut (2011-13), where he compiled a 10-13 record and was fired last September after an 0-4 start. He also has served as head coach at Syracuse (1991-2004), where his teams went 107-59-1 and won four Big East titles, and at Western Connecticut (1982-86), where his teams went 34-17.
Before taking the top job at UConn, Pasqualoni was the Dallas Cowboys defensive line coach in 2010 and was promoted to defensive coordinator midway through the season after Wade Phillips was fired. Pasqualoni was defensive coordinator for the Miami Dolphins in 2008-09.
Herring spent the previous three seasons with the Houston Texans as linebackers coach. In 2011, the Texans' Connor Barwin moved from defensive end to outside linebacker in the team's 3-4 defensive scheme and tied for third in the AFC with a team-high 11 ½ sacks. The Bears are considering incorporating some 3-4 alignments into their standard 4-3 scheme and shifting 2012 first-round draft pick Shea McClellin to linebacker from defensive end, where he has been a disappointment.
Herring was the linebackers coach for Dallas from 2008-10, during which time linebacker DeMarcus Ware led the NFL with 46 ½ sacks. Herring also has 25 years of experience as a college coach, including 11 as a defensive coordinator.
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