Not that fans would cry if it happened, but truthfully things got a lot more interesting for the Chicago Bears when news hit Lovie Smith was taking over in Tampa Bay. Could this mean a more massive turnover on defense?
Charles Tillman and Henry Melton may wish to head south to Tampa
No team has more free agents to lock up in 2014 than Chicago, which is why they have gotten a head start on getting key names signed as quickly as possible including Jay Cutler and Matt Slauson. Cornerback Tim Jennings is the only defender to get a new deal so far, which is not surprising since he played far better than anybody else on that woeful unit in 2013. The real question ahead for the Bears is how much bargaining power they will have. A week ago they seemed to hold all the cards with no other teams likely to have as much interest in signing them due to injury problems and erratic play. Then their former coach Lovie Smith signed a four-year deal to coach the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Word has leaked that their former coordinator Rod Marinelli will be joining him as well. Coupled with the glorious Florida weather, several of the Bears veterans such as Charles Tillman and Henry Melton who experienced their best football under Smith might wish to forego new deals in Chicago to rejoin him in Tampa.
Marc Trestman has left the door open for switch to a 3-4
Such a thing could cause continuity problems for the Bears but in reality changes are coming for their defense. After watching the unit implode over the last two games of the season, head coach Marc Trestman refused to dismiss any options on the table, which included possibly switching schemes to a 3-4 defense. Such an event would mark the first time it has ever happened in Chicago and is not really surprising. Fans and experts alike have mulled the possibility all season. Defensive coordinator Mel Tucker has deep roots in the 3-4 scheme from his days in Cleveland and college. On top of that the current young players the Bears have such as 2012 first round pick Shea McClellin seem to have the athletic build that is much better suited for outside linebacker in such a defense. Lastly, and perhaps most important, the 2014 draft is expected to be quite rich in 3-4 pass rushers and press cover cornerbacks, two essentials to the system. If ever the Chicago Bears were to make the switch they’ve picked a good year to do so.
Ultimately there is a strong likelihood the team will lose at least one big name free agent to Lovie Smith and the Bucs. The question will be whether it was one they wanted to keep in the first place.