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NFL Chicago Bears

Are the Chicago Bears Moving Towards a 3-4 Defense?

Shea McClellin at camp

Jerry Lai-USA TODAY Sports

For years, the Chicago Bears have been known for their 4-3 defensive front with a cover-two shell in the secondary. However, after consecutive second-half collapses, the Bears are under a new regime and could be making drastic changes. Phil Emery made the non-sexy hiring of Marc Trestman this off-season and has made his fair share of under-the-radar moves this Winter as well.

I’m sure Bears fans are cringing over a possible shift to the 3-4, but it may be too late for the die-hard Chicago faithful. Lovie Smith was never going to shift from the 3-4, but he has since been canned after a second half record of 6-10 in the last two seasons at the helm.

Had Emery wanted to keep the 4-3 on the defensive side of the ball, he would’ve gave Smith another chance as the Bears coach had one more year left on his deal when he was fired.

With Smith out of the picture, Trestman decided to appoint his own defensive coordinator and selected Mel Tucker from the Jacksonville Jaguars to be in charge of the defense. Tucker ran a 4-3 during his four years in Jacksonville but prior to that, he spent a season with the Cleveland Browns where he ran a 3-4.

The moves that the Bears made this off-season also hint at a possible change of defensive schemes. Brian Urlacher was the face of the “Tampa 2″ and he has been told to find a new place of work by Emery. To replace Urlacher, the Bears have brought in linebackers D.J. Williams and James Anderson, who are both familiar with the 3-4. Williams has bounced around quite a bit, but he has played his best while at the RILB position.

In addition, Emery surprised a lot of people last NFL draft when he selected Shea McClellin 19th overall. Draft pundits called McClellin an ideal linebacker for a 3-4 defense in particular and were surprised when the Bears slotted him at defensive end given his skill set. Perhaps this was a bit of foreshadowing on Emery’s part.

Until Trestman and the Bears release what kind of defense they will be running, the rumors will continue to churn as the Bears await a possible face lift.