In a 1954 game against the Philadelphia Eagles, Chicago Bears middle guard Bill George grew tired of the Eagles quarterback throwing over the middle. To thwart the Eagles' plans, George started to drop back off the line from his down position, thus turning the Bears' 5-2 defense into a 4-3.
Bill George became the first middle linebacker in professional football, and the Chicago Bears have ran with a 4-3 front ever since.
This year the Bears may do something different.
Chicago head coach Marc Trestman recently told the Chicago Sun Times that they will wait on making a decision regarding their front until they acquire more players.
‘‘You have to put your scheme together in all three phases that is flexible enough to bring the best out of the players you coach. In a lot of ways, we don't know who those guys are going to be, particularly on the defensive side.''
Here are the returning starters on the defensive side of the ball for the Bears.
Julius Peppers - Defensive end, may be a cap casualty.
Stephen Paea - Defensive tackle
Shea McClellin - Former defensive end, who will be moved to strong side OLB.
Lance Briggs - Weak side OLB and play caller.
Chris Conte - Free safety, didn't play well enough to ensure a starting role.
Tim Jennings - Pro Bowl cornerback
Jon Bostic - Middle linebacker, forced into a starting role when D.J. Williams went down. He may be moved to OLB.
Of those seven players, I only see three surefire starters on the 2014 Chicago Bears, Paea, Briggs and Jennings, but even Paea could be pushed into a rotational role.
Bears GM Phil Emery has the roster flexibility to change up the Bears defensive front next season.
Defensive coordinator Mel Tucker has 3-4 and 4-3 experience, and the three new defensive coaches all have 3-4 experience.
One of the things Trestman was known for during his CFL days, was an ability to alter his offense depending on personnel. It appears he has the same philosophy about the defense.
‘‘You have to design a scheme based on the strengths of the players you have.''
So with that being said, I'm not so sure a 4-3 front is set in stone. If the Bears feel a shift to a 3-4 or a 4-3/3-4 hybrid front makes sense, they'll do so.
For the purposes of this poll, we'll use the generic "Hybrid" term as a catch-all for any sort of 4-3/3-4 hybrid.
They run a 4-3 front but one of their defensive ends acts as the hybrid player, you may have heard him referred to as the LEO. He needs to have defensive end skills, but also be athletic enough to drop off and play linebacker. Here are the Seahawks lined up pre-snap.
For a good read about the defense that Seattle employs click here.
So what do you think the Bears will have for their base defensive front in 2014?
And the first person that comments that the Bears don't have the personnel to run anything except a 4-3 will receive a WCG electro-shock through their reading device.