Aug 23, 2013; Oakland, CA, USA; Oakland Raiders tight end Richard Gordon (82) fights for yardage against the Chicago Bears defense during the second quarter at O.Co Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Ed Szczepanski-USA TODAY Sports
Without question the number one story of the 2014 Bears will be about their rebuilt defense. Of course there is no set scheme to talk about as Mel Tucker is currently in the process of revamping the way the Bears defense does business. We can speculate what they may look like based on comments that have been made by Bears defensive coordinator Mel Tucker yesterday, (where he spoke for the first time since just before the Bears last game at soldier field against the Green Bay Packers), and going by Tuckers past history, and of course by the Bears defensive acquisitions this off-season and during the draft.
Tucker confirmed that the scheme will change, and include things he’s familiar with, and how he and Bears head coach Marc Trestman communicated that throughout the off-season.
"“I told him that I thought there was some things that we needed to add to what we’re doing,” Tucker said. ” Some things that I’m familiar with, I think, can help us. Some of it is going to be based upon the players that we get, and I think we have those players in place now, and we can do those things.”"
He continued to elaborate how the Bears personnel would dictate what direction the Bears scheme would morph into.
"“Some of the stuff we have is going to be based upon the personnel because a lot of the packages that you have, you want to build them around the guys that you have and what they do well,” Tucker said. “We have it all on paper, and we just have to wait and see which ones we’re going to use based upon what we see guys do on the field.”"
Sounds a lot like the way the Bears handled the offense last season. The Trestman offense still has a lot of the principals it always had throughout his career as an offensive schemer and play caller, but had a different look to exploit the personnel they had in their varied sub packages. As a matter of fact the offense evolved as the season progressed, as the coaching staff had more of an understanding of what their players strengths, and weaknesses were. I still remember some of the snide remarks on sports talk radio, and social media about how slow of a pace that the Bears playbook was being constructed at. Well Tucker mentioned that the playbook would be at 70% by the time camp arrives. This tells me that they will be experimenting with things in camp and pre-season to see what players can and cannot do ad using that information to complete the remaining 30% of the defense. Likely the sub packages they’ll use for passing situations, including a lot of the blitz schemes.
The Bears clearly made the defensive line their priority. While many narrow minded view points were verbalized through social media, blogs, and articles by both media, and fans pre-draft with thoughts on the Bears need to prioritize safety as the number one focus, the Bears did the right thing, and focused up front instead.Tucker mentions what that means for how the defensive fronts will look like this season.
"“There are some significant changes in terms of the techniques that we’re going to play, how we’re going to fit the run, some of our alignments,” he said. “We’ll have some alternative fronts that we’ll play.”"
This can be pretty much identified as a hybrid front. Alternative fronts pretty much means Odds and even fronts, and techniques means playing one gap (lined up nose to nose with a lineman), or two gap (in between two offensive lineman). This was something I wrote about earlier in the week. (Read it here). That was made blatantly evident by the picks they made day 2 in the draft with Ego Ferguson, and Will Sutton going 51st, and 82nd overall. Blog coming about those two later today.
A deep front line will give the Bears a set of fresh bodies to go all out on every down, and one that can sustain injury. This dominoes to the linebackers who will be more effective as more blocking focus will have to be emphasized up front leaving the LB’s free to roam around and attack the line of scrimmage, or stay back and help in coverage. This dominoes to the back end where more bodies can concentrate on coverage if the backers attack the front, or they can be involved more up at the line in blitz, and run support while the backers hang back in zones, or man up on tight ends, backs, and some slot guys. I’ll have a blog coming soon about the Bears athletic and more versatile linebackers, and how they can thrive in a more aggressive attacking multiple front defense.
This makes the safety play better as they will not be isolated, and consequently exposed. Than the Bears can eventually wait to either draft a stud safety, or sign a stud safety at a later time, or develop one on their roster of current players who just may surprise. Perhaps a kid like Brock Vereen surprises as a draft steal, or even the much maligned Chris Conte emerges as the free safety the Bears originally envisioned him as.
As I mentioned in my past blog this certainly won’t be a boring defense.