“The Bears played their nickel defense on 72 percent of the Lions’ snaps.
“The Bears used nickel in part because the Lions played a lot of three wide receivers. But they also used nickel at times against personnel groupings that do not necessarily call for nickel defenses. They played nickel on first down 11 times, and they were in nickel for 13 running plays.”
Pompei goes on to point out that the Bears may have preferred nickel with strong side linebacker Nick Roach sidelined for most of the game.
The reason this is significant? I can remember situations less than a year ago when the Bears couldn’t even stop the run with the standard front seven. They were constantly bringing an extra safety into the box, especially when current linebackers coach Bob Babich was the coordinator.
Now the Bears are stopping the run with just two linebackers in the game. It’s a measure of just how much better this defense is this year over past years.