BEREA, Ohio (AP) -Mel Tucker, Cleveland's defensive backs coach the past three seasons, is the club's new defensive coordinator, replacing Todd Grantham, who was fired by the Browns on Friday.
Tucker inherits a defense that could look radically different at the start of the 2008 season. The Browns are expected to focus on fixing their defense during free agency and in the draft.
Cleveland's defense was among the NFL's poorest in 2007. The Browns finished the season ranked 30th in overall defense, allowing 5,753 yards - fifth most in club history - and 382 points.
Still, Grantham's dismissal was a surprise since the unit showed improvement down the stretch, and it was Cleveland's offense, not the defense, which failed to deliver in a crucial loss at Cincinnati on Dec. 23 than ended up costing the Browns a playoff spot.
A Cleveland native, Tucker was an assistant defensive coach at Ohio State from 2001-04 before joining Romeo Crennel's staff in Cleveland.
In his first year, the Browns ranked fourth in the league in pass defense. In 2006, Cleveland's secondary was ravaged by injuries but managed to rank 15th despite the loss of starters Gary Baxter and Daylon McCutcheon to injuries.
The Browns had trouble defending the pass this past season, allowing 29 TD passes. But Cleveland's secondary continued to get better with rookie cornerback Eric Wright, cornerback Leigh Bodden and safety Sean Jones, in particular, showing future promise.
Tucker was also an assistant coach at LSU and Miami of Ohio. He began his coaching career as a graduate assistant under Nick Saban at Michigan State in 1997.
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