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Are Injuries at DT an Opportunity for Bears Defense to Evolve?

| October 7th, 2013

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There are a lot of things that bore me. Baseball games. Motivational speakers. Any dinner/ceremony related to a wedding. Waiting in the tee box for the group ahead of me to complete their woodland pilgrimage to find an ill-driven ProV1. (This also infuriates me to my breaking point.) I am starting to become very bored by two NFL writing trends: the regurgitation of numerical evaluations from Pro Football Focus and X & O breakdowns from anybody who shelled out the sixty bucks for All-22 tape. Admittedly I was guilty of both for a few weeks. I’m done.

Side note Tweet: 

Biggest question re: Pro Football Focus rankings? How much do they investigate assignments? How do they ascertain OL liability w/out knowing assignments?

This is not a column positing my knowledge of the inner workings of defensive football. I don’t pretend to have all that much. This is a column asking very basic questions about how the Bears defense progresses through the 2013 season.

Here’s what I know about the Tampa-2 defensive structure: it needs to be built strong up the middle like a great defensive baseball team. At its best in Tampa it was Warren Sapp, Derrick Brooks, John Lynch. At its best in Chicago it was Tommie Harris, Brian Urlacher, Mike Brown.

On Thursday night it will be a hobbled Stephen Paea, D.J. Williams, Major Wright. Oh Hamlet, what a falling off was there! (Does this count as a pop culture reference?) Little push from the middle of the defensive, little coverage of the deep middle from the linebacker position and little discipline from center field. Due to injuries sustained by Henry Melton and Nate Collins the Bears no longer have the personnel to run the Tampa-2 defense. They no longer have the strength in the middle of their defense.

What does this mean? I have absolutely no idea. There is no chance Mel Tucker is going to spend the next twenty-hours in his defensive laboratory, concocting new schemes to fit the current Bears personnel. The Bears aren’t suddenly going to play bump-and-run on the outside or switch to a 3-4 defense overnight because they are down to there third and fourth tackles. But I have a few questions based on what I watched between the Saints and Bears Sunday.

  1. Shea McClellin turned in arguably his finest performance as a defensive end and it seemed as the game progressed he took his hand out of the dirt on third downs. Is this something the Bears would consider doing on a regular basis?
  2. How many times this season are we going to see Bears corners with their hands in the air, surprised the safeties have not provided support over the top? Playing a safety over the top is a perfectly fine device to keep plays in front of the defense but it can be lethal if the safeties are continually late? Would Tucker ever allow Tillman and Jennings to simply play men and not space? Aren’t Tillman and Jennings two of the best defenders on the club? Can’t they just play them play?
  3. Will the Bears go to a more NASCAR look with regularity? The “NASCAR look” idea was coined by the Giants of a few years back when they’d put their four best pass rushers on the line of scrimmage and let them go. Seems to me the Bears would be wise to get out of the “technique” mentality and just go after quarterbacks on occasion.

Again, I don’t expect the Bears to make any significant changes with two days until the Giants come to Chicago. But after this Giants game the Bears only play one game over the next twenty-four days. If the coaching staff was going to make any large-scale shifts or installations that would certainly be the time to do it. They no longer have the talent to stay within the current defensive structure.

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