Throughout Chicago Bears head coach Lovie Smith’s tenure, he has put a big emphasis on his front four bringing pressure and creating turnovers. The one package that gives the Bears a good chance to create a bunch of pressure is the Nickel formation; a formation that gives the Bears their best front four pass rushers on the field at the same time.
The Bears last season struggle to get to quarterback; they figure to improve on that this season with some moving pieces, and new addition on the defensive line. On the front four, the three technique tackle and right defensive end positions have key players heading that pass rush.
At the three technique defensive tackle position, it is occupied by four-year veteran Henry Melton who was second on the team in sacks with seven. Coach Smith and Defensive Coordinator Rod Marinelli are counting on Melton to take that next step in becoming a more consistent dominant presence up the middle.
At the RDE position, Julius Peppers is the star of the front four, and the one that will draw the most attention. This is where first rounder Shea McClellin and veteran Israel Idonije (who will be rotated inside in this package) will have to take advantage of the added attention Peppers receives on the edge.
In McClellin, the Bears potentially have an athletic speed rusher opposite Peppers that can overwhelm opposing OT’s with his quickness and speed off the edge. Idonije inside at DT gives the Bears another quick athlete in the interior, who’s also strong enough to not get overwhelm by opposing offensive guards and centers.
The Nickel formation is not an exotic one that allows you to disguise where the pressure is coming from, but it does allow the Bears to put their four best pass rushers on the field all at the same time.
We’ve gotten a glimpse of what this group is capable of in the week two preseason game against the Washington Redskins, where they brought consistent pressure on rookie starting QB Robert Griffin III.
If this group can carry that over to the regular season, it would make the back seven of the defense jobs that much easier to create turnovers.