The Bears made a ton of changes to last season's terrible defense, adding three new defensive ends in free agency, two new defensive tackles in the draft, and three new safeties (among other adjustments), but their biggest changes in effectiveness come from new defensive line coach Paul Pasqualoni, linebackers coach Reggie Herring, and Mel Tucker's overall adjustments to the scheme.
Earlier this week, Stephen Paea talked a little bit about Pasqualoni's early effectiveness.
"Coach (Pasqualoni) is more detailed," Paea told 670 The Score. "From steps, hands, where you put your eyes, all that. He's more into details. Rod Marinelli is a great coach. Everybody has their own style of coaching. I've learned a lot more in the last three weeks here than I have in the last three years. Just the way we changed a few things in the defense, and I love it."
And Jon Bostic spoke to the Sun-Times Adam Jahns about his fit in the new scheme:
"I feel a lot more comfortable this year, especially with all the changes to the defense," Bostic said after OTAs this week at Halas Hall.
"A lot of the changes that we did make, it's a lot more natural for me.
"I can play how I've been taught literally from little league to high school to college to now. It's back to playing how I used to.
‘‘There were a lot of things that we did last year that worked, but now we changed a couple of those things, and it's more natural."
We've spoken a bit about Shea McClellin as a square-peg-round-hole situation, especially as he moves to linebacker from a disappointing 2013 campaign at end (and I will say that if these scheme changes are good for others on the defense, it could also be a situation of McClellin's season also being affected by the coaches in a negative way).
But if the scheme changes can turn Bostic into the player he was at Florida - aggressive, confident, making correct reads and slamming shut run gaps - and Paea back into a useful block-shedder and run-stopper, that's two big keys to closing down the defense's biggest weakness last season.
How comfortable is Bostic right now? Confident enough that he shouted down D.J. Williams over a gap assignment.
Playing on the weak side with Lance Briggs absent, an animated Bostic pointed at one hole and shouted instructions at middle linebacker D.J. Williams, who emphatically pointed at another gap.
"Those things will be a lot more natural to me, playing inside-out on it [against runs]," said Bostic, who has worked at every linebacker spot during OTAs.
"What I did a lot of at Florida is what we're back to doing now."
Florida ran a hybrid defense, and it's likely that Tucker took into account Bostic's strengths when contemplating the changes that won over coach Marc Trestman and general manager Phil Emery.
Tucker hinted at it last month, saying, "We're building on some of [Bostic's] experience from a year ago that is going to help him moving more."
Herring said his goal was to get Bostic "to tempo things and not just be fast all the time."
Yes, real results have to wait until August or September to start to show themselves, but for now, everything sounds encouraging. What are your thoughts on the coaching staff's early impact on the defense?