If you’re a fan of multiple fronts, varied coverages, and exotic blitzes this new Bears defense will give you great joy this coming fall, and all the way through the winter months. It’s clear to me that there are more than enough clues left even though no one associated with the Bears coaching, or management has confirmed that this is indeed the case. However if you can read through the minusha of what’s being said by the hierarchy you can guess what direction this defense is heading. If that isn’t enough to shine the light than all you need to do is take a look at the types of athletes this organization has been acquiring. This draft being a prime example.
It’s becoming obvious this defense is moving towards hybrid. I think anyone who has researched Phil Emery once he was officially named as a candidate for the Bears general managers position, has figured out that eventually the Bears were going to become a hybrid defense, and a modern NFL offense with hybrid tendencies as well. When Emery hired Marc Trestman to be the Bears head coach and Lovie Smith’s successor that was confirmed offensively. They put together a bunch of talent and than created an offense that fit every single pieces skill set.
The Bears also hired 3 coaches this past off-season that have experience in a multitude of systems, both odd, and even fronts. Than there’s the players they drafted. It all starts with Kyle Fuller who played the very essence of what a hybrid defensive back really is. He was a rover that was moved into as many positions, and coverages, and blitzes anyone could possibly imagine. Something I wrote about after the pick. You can read it here. Than there was the Ego Ferguson pick. Clearly a versatile player who can play several positions in many fronts. However the most telling sign about the pick pointing towards change in defensive philosophy is what Ferguson said himself in his draft press conference.
“(Pasqualoni) brought me to the office and we’re just talking ball for a long time. And he asked me, can I play that 2-technique? Can I do it? He said that’s what he wanted me for and he showed a lot of interest,” Ferguson said.
For those that do not know, a 2 technique lines up directly over the guard. That technique is commonly used in odd fronts most notably a 3-4 front. At the very least its more of a man front where they attack a position directly rather than gap assignment. So expect the Bears to use the Linebackers and defensive backs in a lot in their pressure schemes and filling holes in the run game while their defensive linemen occupy blockers. As a reference point think back to what the Bears did with Keith Traylor and Ted Washington.
Of course that’s not the only front they’ll play. All you have to do is look at the next pick to see that. Will Sutton is a pure 3 technique. When he was at his best he played at 290-ish. Emery has already said he will play at that weight, so the Bears want him to penetrate hitting gaps, and causing disruption in the back field. So there will be a plethora of sub packages, and will likely have a different plan of attack not only from game to game, but from play to play at times. It’s also possible you will see a combination of techniques. For example having Sutton play the gaps on his side while Ferguson plays the man in 2 technique.
The same will occur in the back end. Aside from the Fuller pick the Bears also got a versatile Defensive back who played almost as much corner-back as he did safety in Brock Vereen out of Minnesota. He also played everywhere having a multitude of responsibilities playing in the slot, on the back end, in press, in off coverage, blitzing etc.
If that isn’t enough let’s go back to the draft combine. Here’s what Emery had to say when asked about what the Bears will likely look like defensively given the turnover.
“I’ll say this, I think we have a history of we’re not afraid to take calculated risk and we’ll continue to do that. We’ll continue to find players that have upside skills, that have good ceilings in terms of athletically, speed and size. And we’ll piece it together. Obviously, there is a plan in place.”
Here’s more on how that’s related to the off-season coaching hires.
“That’s why we went with more experienced coaches that have had numerous stays and stops and positive experiences running 4-3, 3-4, multiple-front defenses. That it gives us the same flexibility that our offensive staff gives us. One of the biggest reasons we hired Marc as our head coach is that he had demonstrated ability to take the positive skills that players have and mold it into something positive and to positively produce on the field and win championships. We want that the same on our defense.”
That’s probably the most definitive statement Emery has made in regards to the Bears going hybrid without actually saying hybrid. Regardless of the ultimate results one things for certain…The Bears defense won’t be boring.