Rich Campbell at the Chicago Tribune writes a nice article on the evolution of the Bears defensive scheme. He describes what coaches around the league are thinking when they consider what a disruptive defense looks like:
“‘Talent is important, but you can schematically try to create match ups,’ Titans coach Ken Whisenhunt said. ‘We try to do it offensively. You never know for sure what you’re going to get.’”
“So what’s the key to that?
“‘If you’re going to change in and out,’ Whisenhunt said, ‘then you’ve got to have the athletic defensive end/linebacker that can do multiple things for you, that has the ability to line up in different spots and create those mismatches.’
“[Lamarr] Houston and end-turned-linebacker Shea McClellin project into those roles for the Bears.”
First, its evident that defensive end Jared Allen was the missing piece a week ago. All of the coaches that Campbell interviewed said the same thing – you have to get pressure on the quarterback with four men. That is always going to start with Allen. Defensive coordinator Mel Tucker can now start with the assumption that offenses will design protections to stop Allen first and he can put together what he will do in each situation depending upon how the offense decides to go about doing that. Unlike the situation a week ago, Allen is the man that now allows you to close your eyes and see how the defense is going to look.
Second, I can’t stress enough how much good position coaching is going to have to be a part of this defensive overhaul. For the last decade the Bears have predicated their defense on doing one thing really well. Everyone knew their role and executed it. Now players are going to have multiple roles depending on the situation. Indeed, they may not know what their role is until the offense lines up.
Houston might be a three technique tackle one play, an end the next and a linebacker the one after that. Shea McClellin will now be adding the role of linebacker when he hasn’t played all that well just as a defensive end for two years now. Players are going to have to be better prepared now than they have ever been before.
As author Joseph Murray once said, “We go where our vision is.” The Bears have the flexibility on defense in terms of personnel to do that and they know where to start when putting together their schemes. Now its up to hard work in a world of pure imagination.