Chicago Bears Need to Stay a 4-3 Defensive Team

By Dominique Blanton
Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports

The Chicago Bears are about to go through some changes. And GM Phil Emery wanted to address some of that before things get rolling:

“There’s all kinds of different types of skill sets with defensive players. So it’s the thought process behind how he’s going to make it fit with the Chicago Bears that’s very important to me, and to go back to your original question, hey I was on a 3-4 team in Kansas City, great experience. Here with the 4-3 with coach Smith, No. 1 rated defense, Aikman gradings, lot of excellence there. I’ve seen both. We have 4-3 personnel.

For somebody to move from 4-3 to 3-4, they’re going to have to convince me that we have the players with the skills sets and the body types to move toward that defense and having that experience on a true 3-4 team, not what a lot of people are calling 3-4’s, a lot of people in this league are running one-gap systems, calling it a 3-4 front.

What we ran in Kansas City was a 3-4 with a two-gap, three down lineman, big nose, big ends. We don’t have those people so they’re going to have to do a lot of convincing to me to convince me that that’s the direction we want to spend additional time and resources reconstructing our defensive talent base to fit a brand new system.”

That quote was from Emery’s press conference yesterday on the possibility of switching towards a 3-4 defense. While the thought of seeing guys like Julius Peppers and Shea McClellin fly off the edge from the outside linebacker position, the rest of the personnel on that defense is best suited for the 4-3 scheme that previous head coach Lovie Smith had run for nine years in Chicago.

Not to mention, the defense finished the season ranked 1st  in the Aikman efficiency ratings and 5th overall in the NFL, while the offense finish 21st in the Aikman efficiency ratings and 28th overall in the NFL. The Bears defense sent four players to the Pro Bowl, while the lone offensive player to make the team was Brandon Marshall.

While the face of that defense, Brian Urlacher, lookedclose to done this season, older veterans Lance Briggs, Charles Tillman, Israel Idonije, and Peppers are still playing at a high level. Young players are also starting to establish themselves as building blocks. Henry Melton has developed into one of the best defensive tackles in the league, while Stephen Paea had a solid season in his second year. Those two players have the potential to develop into one of the better DT duos in the game if they aren’t already.

Corey Wootton‘s career started off slow mainly because of injuries, but this season has played at a high level (seven sacks in seven starts) as the arrow is pointing up for the 25-year old DE. The Bears could potentially have their bookends DE’s of the future in Wootton and McClellin.

Major Wright has established himself as one of the better strong safeties in the league, and Chris Conte is coming off a solid season and will only get better (although he will most likely have to fight for his job in the off-season against rookie Brandon Hardin).

Emery sees this roster like most fans see it, a roster with a championship caliber defense that with some tweaking on the offensive coaching staff and personnel can compete for championships the next few seasons.  Switching to a 3-4 will require a complete overhaul on defense that I feel is unnecessary.

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