What the Bears defense would look like if they switched to a 3-4 next season.

As I was researching Mel Tucker the new defensive coordinator for the Bears I discovered that he previously ran a 3-4 defense as the defensive coordinator for the Cleveland Browns back in 2008 some hybrid 3-4 , 4-3 fronts with the Jaguars . And while I don’t really that it’s a possibility they would make this switch in the near future it got me thinking about what the Bears defense might look like if they decided to switch to a 3-4 next season and what some of the personnel would look like if they did make the switch. I tried to be as realistic as possible as well when making this roster, sorry if they’re not all pro bowl players.

I made sure I recognized who is in free agency and the draft instead of trying to flip flop the players already on the roster because the defense wouldn’t be able to function properly with what the Bears currently have on the defensive line.

Defensive End

Randy Starks: A tough hard nosed run stopping defensive tackle who is a free agent this year played nose tackle for the Dolphins last year but previously played DE in a 3-4 before the Dolphins decided to make the switch to a 4-3. Was previously getting paid around 5 million a year but with Henry Melton hitting free agency the Bears would most likely not sign him back (could definitely see him going to Dallas) because he fits more as a defensive tackle in a tampa 2 system which would free up some money for the Starks signing instead.

Mike Devito: A solid player who has played and started for a while during his career with the Jets where he has played in a 3-4 the entire time could be signed rather cheap and have the ability to come in and start

Stephen Paea: Out of all the Bears Defensive Tackles on the roster this is the only one that I could see realistically see making the transition especially with most of them set to hit free agency. Paea is very strong and has the right size to be a defensive end in a 3-4 system which makes me think he would be able to make the switch.

Defensive Tackle

Terrance Knighton: Played under Mel Tucker the last couple of years is 6’3 335lbs so he is big enough to play nose tackle in a 3-4 defense. Combined with Randy Starks they would make a great run stopping duo on that d line and they would be able to take on a lot of blockers freeing up the linebackers too make plays

Shaun Rogers: Was named to the Pro Bowl in 2008 under Mel Tucker while playing for the Browns even though he’s getting up there in age he can still play seeing as how he has stayed on NFL rosters the past two seasons after getting into some trouble with law 2 years ago. Who knows he could maybe even beat out Knighton for the starting job but would definitely provide some good depth for a great price.

Outside Linebacker

Julius Peppers: While he is getting up there in age he still has incredible athleticism and was targeted in 2010 in free agency by teams like the Patriots to play linebacker in a 3-4 defense. Could see him playing a role similar to that of Tamb Hali of the Chiefs or Aldon Smith of the 49ers. Would like to see him put his hand in the dirt every once in a while and see them rush with 4-3 fronts.

Shea McCllelin¬: This to me is the player that fits the best into a 3-4 that is currently on the Bears roster. He is an ideal outside linebacker in a 3-4 scheme he has a nonstop motor coming off the edge and even played a little bit of inside linebacker for Boise State which shows his versatility (which would make him a great weapon on this defense) and that he should have above average coverage skills at this position. Coming out of college pretty much every mock draft out there had him going to a team that played a 3-4 to play OLB. He somewhat fits into the mold of a Mike Vrabel or Rob Ninkovich of the Patriots with his ability to play solid at linebacker and rush as a lineman, he’s also much more athletic than either of those players ever were which really could make him a special player.

Corey Wootton: A real athletic player could see him making the transition to linebacker smoothly and would definitely be a serviceable back up. You could maybe even see Shea McClellin kicked inside to play MLB once in a while and see some crazy blitz packages with Corey Wooton filling in for McCllelin on the outside.

Inside Linebacker

Lance Briggs: Still even at the age of 32 Briggs is playing at an extremely high level but OLB in a 3-4 require you to be more of a pass rusher but he would fit perfectly as a 3-4 middle linebacker with his athleticism and ability to come up and stop the run and stick with tight ends and running backs in coverage.

Larry Grant: Playing for the 49ers the past 2 years he has got to sit behind and learn from quite possibly the two best MLB’s in the league in Patrick Willis and Navorro Bowman. Watching him fill in for Patrick Willis for three games in 2011 he was very impressive averaging 13 tackles a game. Grant could come in and start immediately and be had at a bargain price.

Blake Costanzo: Also previously playing with the Niners being more of a special teams ace he never really saw the field with them but was still in defensive meetings so he has some familiarity, he also started a game for the Bears this season and was graded very highly by Lovie Smith for his performance. He could be a solid backup.


Charles Tillman: Still playing at a high level last year we saw Tillman put together a year that was defensive player of the year caliber we saw him cause a ton of turnovers and even though he is viewed as more of a tampa 2 corner after seeing him basically shutdown Megatron this year I’m convinced he could still play man to man coverage and not have to make the switch to safety which the Bears could do if they did see him as a liability.

Mike Jenkins: More of a press coverage type corner with Monte Kiffin and Rod Marinelli coming into coach the tampa 2 in Dallas it doesn’t really make sense to bring back a guy that doesn’t fit the defense especially with guys like Brandon Carr and Morris Claiborne already on the roster. He could come in and cover the number 2 receiver.

Tim Jennings: Even though he isn’t exactly what comes to mind when you think of a corner back in 3-4 or any defense for that matter with his small size he did prove to have good coverage skills last year and some GREAT hands that led to a pro bowl season and even though he probably couldn’t do everything he would be asked to if he matched up against number 2 receivers on the outside in this defense he could be switched into the nickel corner spot and play extremely well there.

Free Safety

Brandon Hardin: Regardless of whether not the Bears were to switch to a 3-4 defense I can see Hardin coming in and winning this job in training camp he is extremely athletic and has great size being 6’3 225lbs he ran a 4.4 40 yd dash at the combine. If he can stay healthy and play smart and with discipline I could see him turning into a (white version) of Dashon Goldson of the 49ers with his ability too really come up and lay the wood.

Chris Conte: Has been pretty good the past two years he isn’t the flashiest of players but he makes all the plays he’s supposed to and plays smart he also has the ability to match up well with receivers after previously playing corner in college for the Cal Bears.

Strong Safety

Major Wright: Has also been a good player since the Bears drafted him in 2010 in the third round out of Florida. He has not made many mistakes other than dropping a couple of interceptions here and there another smart player thanks to Jon Hoke hes got the skill set to play in this defense he’s also notorious for being a heavy hitter as well.

Tanard Jackson: Early in his career it looked like Jackson was going to be a very good player but after getting in trouble the last couple of years he has kind of fallen off the map but I’d like to see him get a chance at safety whether it be free or strong. Even though I’ll admit that it is a little too much of a risk to bring him in I think he could view this as his last chance and flourish in a veteran locker room like the Bears have. So what do you think? After looking at this I wouldn’t mind having them run a 3-4 if they had this type of personnel I think that Randy Starks really though is kind of the only guy that would make this happen because from what I have seen from all of the best 3-4 teams is that they have a dominant player at the end position like JJ Watt from the Texans, Haloti Ngata from the Ravens and Justin Smith from the 49ers. Anyways let me know what you guys think it’s my first time writing a post. Hope you enjoyed it!

<em>This FanPost was written by a Windy City Gridiron member, and does not necessarily reflect the ideas or opinions of its staff or community.</em>

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