Sep 22, 2013; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Pittsburgh Steelers center Fernando Velasco (61) at the line of scrimmage against the Chicago Bears defense during the third quarter at Heinz Field. The Bears won 40-23. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Bears Confirm They Will Stick with 4-3 Defense


As the Bears made some coaching moves this offseason, the rumble started to grow.  Both Paul Pasqualoni and Reggie Herring had experience working with 3-4 defenses.  For those hoping that the 3-4 defense would be a magical salve to cure what has been ailing the Bears defense, guess again.  Despite those moves, the Bears confirmed that they’ll be sticking with the 4o-front in 2014:

In terms of the scheme, the Bears will remain a 4-3 base team. But having coaches with experience in a variety of different systems will give them the versatility to take advantage of what their players do best.

“It’s a matter of being able to utilize the people that we have and be ready to do whatever it’s going to take with a system that’s flexible enough to do it,” Trestman said. “It’s making sure we have a scheme that can utilize our players and bring the best out of them.”

That doesn’t mean that the Bears will necessarily have the same defense, it just means they’ll keep the same base front.  As I pointed out just ahead of the Super Bowl, the Bears can look to the Seahawks, who run a base 4-3 D, for a blueprint for next season.

Shea McClellin will be moving to strong side linebacker, but it could be more of a Leo linebacker role that the Seahawks used in their hybrid scheme, similar to what they did with Bruce Irvin or Chris Clemons:

The Seahawks run a 4-3, the white bread of defensive schemes.

But there’s plenty of note going on in the Seahawks’ 4-3. On rushing downs, the Seahawks switch to something resembling a 3-4: They have four down linemen, but three of them are defensive tackles—big ones, like Alan Branch, Red Bryant, and Brandon Mebane. Together the three weigh 959 pounds. A pass-rushing end, usually Chris Clemons, will stand apart from the three linemen and try to beat the tackle one-on-one. The Seahawks call this man the “Leo,” presumably because it sounds cool.

On third downs or in obvious passing situations, Seattle might throw two Leos into their formation, with rookie phenom Bruce Irvin (who has 4.5 sacks already, despite playing only a third of Seattle’s defensive snaps) playing opposite Clemons (who has 5.5 sacks). Then the Seahawks’ line looks like the “wide nine” everyone talked about with the Eagles last year, except it actually works.

The most important nugget to pull from that is that of the four down linemen, three of them are defensive tackles.  That speaks to the major importance the Bears have to rebuilding their defensive line.  Here are some of the top defensive tackles they should be eyeballing at the Combine.

What do you think?  Are you surprised the Bears will be keeping the 4-3?  Do you expect turnover of the roster?

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  • John Mack

    4-3 base, so that means they can still play around with different defensive looks (i.e. 3-4 hybrid setups). I’m not looking at any charts on top prospects, because I think Emery sincerely goes with his own standard of what a footballer is. I actually think more players with 2nd round grades not projected to go in the 1st round are where he pulls his crop from. McClellan and Long were surprised picks in the first round, expect Phil to do it again!