Jun 17, 2014; Lake Forest, IL, USA; Chicago Bears defensive end Jared Allen (69) during Chicago Bears minicamp at Halas Hall. Mandatory Credit: David Banks-USA TODAY Sports

What to Expect From Chicago Bears Retooled Defense

The Chicago Bears have a big task ahead of them in 2014.  Can their defense recover from the disaster of last season?

Jared Allen and Lance Briggs headline veteran core

Chicago Bears Hall of Fame defensive end Doug Atkins said once that he was surprised so many coaches kept saying they needed more young players on the field.  “Young, young, young,” as he put it.  “It’s good to be young.  But I was heck of a lot better football player at 39 than I was 23.”  In simpler terms what Atkins was saying was there is great value in having veteran players on a team and this latest incarnation of the Bears defense has taken that to heart.

Of the 11 projected starters at this point in the off-season, six of them will be 30 or older.  Headlining that group are All-Pro names like Jared Allen and Lance Briggs, who bring not only talent but leadership to the table.  It can be argued they might not have the spring in their legs they used to, but thanks to their experience they can overcome such deficiencies.  The same can be said for other Pro Bowl talents like Jeremiah Ratliff, Charles Tillman and Tim Jennings.  While their long-term security is negligible, if that group stays healthy the Bears are in good shape for 2014 at least.

Will Sutton and Kyle Fuller represent young and talented depth

The real promise of the Chicago Bears is what they have cooking deeper on their depth chart.  Any NFL enthusiast will say the key to making a deep playoff run is having good depth in place behind the starters and it seems the Bears have set themselves up perfectly.  Rookie 1st round pick Kyle Fuller settles in as the third body behind Tillman and Jennings at corner.  Fellow rookies Ego Ferguson and Will Sutton do the same at defensive tackle.  Depending on what happens at linebacker, Chicago could end up having any combination of Jon Bostic, Khaseem Greene and Shea McClellin waiting in reserve as well.

That is a lot of young, athletic talent to have on the sideline in case of emergencies and also presents a terrific base for building for the future, something GM Phil Emery vowed he would do when he took over the team in 2012.

Mel Tucker has much more experience on his staff to help

Perhaps the most underrated key to the defensive turnaround in Chicago rests with their coaching staff.  Defensive coordinator Mel Tucker was under a lot of heat after his unit finished 30th overall in the league and dead last against the run and in sacks.  After long deliberation, head coach Marc Trestman decided that it was not Tucker but a lack of experience on his support staff that contributed to the disaster.  So Paul Pasqualoni was brought in to coach the defensive line and Reggie Herring came in to take over the linebackers.

Collectively they bring 12 years of pro coaching experience with them, not even counting multiple decades of seasoning in the college ranks.  They are both well-versed in what they do and bring disciplined, no-nonsense approaches to their craft.  That is exactly what Tucker and Trestman have in mind.  They want a tougher defense in 2014.  If the talent rises to the occasion, the Chicago Bears will fulfill that goal.

Tags: Chicago Bears Jared Allen Kyle Fuller Lance Briggs Mel Tucker Will Sutton

  • trinity

    I’m rooting for them to beat the packers for the division. If this defense can at least come up to around 15th overall, I’m confident they can do it. that offense doesn’t need an elite defense, So if they can just pull to the middle of the pack, they can finally defeat green bay.

    • Erik Lambert

      That’s the idea. It’s just a question of can they out-execute the Packers? It takes a complete effort from all three phases to beat good teams like that.

      • trinity

        I agree. I would take the bears offense over the packers. The defense just has to make plays, and Jay has to not make too many mistakes. Lol I’m calling it this year. I think they’re going to do it.

        • Erik Lambert

          Good year to do it but it’s going to take everything they got.

  • bearisity

    It is not only the defence that has to improve. The special teams was not all that great either. I got use to have the better position on the field for years now which helped our weak offences get points. Not to mention the punting has been great for years too allowing our defence to play as strong as they did. That is one area that needs to step it up as well in my books. One other thing i am not sold on our linebackers just yet. I honestly think that is the weak link in our D this year. But with the improved line they could fall in line which would be awesome.

    • franklingray

      I agree. The LBs were out of position all the time last year. Bostic was never in the right gap, Anderson was constantly over-running the play and Greene was just totally lost out there. Here’s to hoping Williams stays healthy and Shea blossoms in his new role.

    • Erik Lambert

      Well when you’re starting two rookies it’s very hard to do anything right at any position. The Bears had mixed results last year with the offensive line and linebackers. They have more experience now, both with the players and the coaches so there should be improvement.