While we can all expect to see plenty of new faces on the Bears defense next season, what we won’t be seeing is a new scheme.
In January I wondered if the changes the Bears had made to the coaching staff might mean that the franchise was looking to make the conversion from a 4-3 defense to a 3-4, or maybe a hybrid of the two. Now, we have an answer.
Well, sort of.
In a story that appeared on the Bears official website, both Marc Trestman and Phil Emery talked about the changes the team wants to make to improve on last year’s terrible defense. Emery says those changes won’t include switching schemes.
“Right now our priority is adding playmakers on defense,” Emery said. “We need to enhance our defense’s ability to make game-determining plays. The No. 1 goal of our defense will always be to score points because when your defense scores your chances of winning are astronomically high compared to when they don’t.”
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.”
The versatility comments lead me to believe that while the Bears will run a base 4-3, we’re going to see some different fronts in 2014. Which is fine with me. I’ve always been a fan of the 3-4, but the truth is you can succeed with any scheme on defense, just as long as you execute. And execution was the Bears biggest problem in 2013.
Versatility, in theory, would help though. Thanks to new ideas (or new wrinkles on old ideas), and with some help from rule changes in recent years, offenses are becoming harder to stop on both the NFL and college levels. So the more looks you can give an offense at the line of scrimmage, the better your odds of confusing the quarterback and offensive line. All of which increases the defense’s chance of success on a given play.
As Emery eludes to above, though, talent trumps all, and the Bears are in sore need of talent on the defensive side of the ball. Hopefully they’ll address that in the draft this spring, and maybe, just maybe, it will all lead to a better defense in 2014.
That or we’ll be watching a lot of 35-31 games again.
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