Hopefully the Chicago Bears defensive coaching staff and front office were taking notes on how the Tampa Bay Buccaneers dismantled the defending champion Kansas City Chiefs. Repeating as Super Bowl champions is immensely difficult, as their hasn’t been a repeat champion since the 2003-2004 Patriots, but the Chiefs nuclear offense looked like it would pull it off with ease.
Ironically enough, it was the New England Patriots Super Bowl appearance two years before that in 2002, where a powerhouse Greatest Show on Turf led by Kurt Warner was humbled by a Bill Belichick defense. The game plan ended up being to mug the Rams receivers off the snap, and thanks to that, NFL rule changes enforced in the mid 2000s stopped teams from doing that.
Even two years ago, the now Los Angeles Rams had a strong offense that was grounded by Belichick in that Super Bowl, but this time he borrowed a 6-man defensive front used by Vic Fangio in the Bears’ 2018 regular season win over the Rams. This prevented the Rams from stretching their run game outside, and the two deep safeties halted any deeper developing routes.
Those similar concepts of keeping two safeties high almost all the time came to fruition for the Bucs after their rough experience trying to guard Tyreke Hill in their November regular season matchup. Tampa Bay defensive coordinator Todd Bowles made lightning fast receiver Tyreke Hill priority 1A, keeping two safeties deep 80 percent of the time to bottle up any of his deep crossing patterns, which was a season high for the team, and his call sheet.
This dedication to two high safeties on well over half a team’s defensive snaps is not common in the NFL, but has shown its worth just in the past two or three seasons. Its roots stem from former Bears defensive coordinator Vic Fangio, and he now has two protégé’s as in former Rams defensive coordinator and current Chargers Head Coach Brandon Staley, and current Bears defensive coordinator Sean Desai.
Staley took his one year turn as the Rams’ defensive coordinator and flipped it into a head coaching gig with the L.A. Chargers. He was hired by Sean McVay for the exact reason why the Rams couldn’t win against the Patriots. The Fangio two high system slowed his Rams offense down, and McVay wanted to know how. Staley proved his worth, running the number 1 offense in football, while basing its importance from the secondary down to the line, and not the other way around.
That goal to prevent big plays and disguise pre snap coverages is the goal for any defense, but Fangio acolytes like Staley and eventually new Chicago Bears defensive coordinator Sean Desai will be able to do it consistently. Having stud players helps a lot, and though Akiem Hicks isn’t Aaron Donald, he can be used just the same. The Bears have a small window to be creative in 2021, and need to take advantage of it.