Which Chicago Bears are a good fit for Vic Fangio’s scheme?
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LDT / 3-Tech (#91): Ray McDonald (6’3, 276), Tank Carradine (6’4, 273)
Instead of using two DEs like a normal 3-4, Fangio moves one of his DEs inside to the 3-tech DT position. The 3-tech DT lines up between the guard and tackle on the weak side and is ideally the D-line’s best pass rusher. The 3-tech DT’s responsibility is to generate interior pressure on pass plays and get in the backfield to disrupt the running game.
Lamarr Houston (6’3, 285): Came into the league as a 305 pound DT, so lining up as a 3-tech shouldn’t be a difficult switch for Houston. Last year was disappointing, but in 2013 Houston finished 7th among all DEs with 41 QB hurries so he has shown the ability to get to the QB. His return from an ACL injury is a bit of a question mark, but if healthy Houston has the talent to be an impact player at the 3-tech position or possibly the 5-tech.
Will Sutton (6’0, 305): As a 280 pound junior at ASU Sutton was one of the best pass rushers in college football. He gained about 20 pounds before his senior year to get better against the run and lost a bit of his burst off the line of scrimmage. Sutton isn’t a good fit at NT or as a 5-tech DE, so his best chance of sticking with the Bears would be to slim down from his current 305 pounds and try to regain his explosiveness from the 3-tech position that he played in college.
RDE / 5-Tech (#94): Justin Smith (6’4, 275), Tony Jerod-Eddie (6’5, 301)
In Fangio’s scheme the 5-tech DE role requires the ability to hold ground against the run despite frequent double teams. If the DE can occupy a double team it frees up the lanes on either side of him for the linebackers to make plays. Justin Smith has handled this role the last few seasons for the Niners and is a special player who was a key factor in the success of Fangio’s D. The Bears don’t have even a poor man’s version of Smith on the roster so they may have to explore free agency or use an early draft pick to find one.
Lamarr Houston (6’3, 285): If Will Sutton can handle the LE/3-tech position, then it’s possible Houston could take over the Justin Smith role in Fangio’s scheme but he would have go bulk up considerably to handle the constant double teams. Houston is the only DE on the roster strong enough against the run to handle the 5-tech position. The Bears may just have to bring in a free agent at the 5-tech, possibly with the $4-$5M it would have taken to re-sing Paea.