The Chicago Bears made major changes after their disastrous 5 win season of 2014. A new general manager was brought in to right the franchise, he hired a new head coach and they hired a mostly new coaching staff. Along with the new coaches comes a new philosophy on both sides of the ball. But it's the defensive side of the ball that is undergoing the most drastic transformation.
With a move to a 30 front D after playing with 4 down lineman for decades, the Chicago Bears have to find the right fits for the transition. All of last season's returning defensive linemen are forced into a new position and general manager Ryan Pace spent part of the off season adding 3-4 defensive linemen to the mix.
They've yet to play a down in their new scheme, but I think it's safe to say the biggest question mark surrounding the 2015 season for the Bears is how their defensive line takes shape. At least one NFL writer isn't expecting them to be very good.
NFL.com recently named the weakest position groups heading into the 2015 season and Chicago's defensive line topped the 3-4 list. Here's what they had to say.
Weakest defensive line (3-4) group: Chicago Bears
The Bears were counting on the recently-released defensive end Ray McDonald to play a major role in new coordinator Vic Fangio's transition to a 3-4 scheme. Now they have to rely upon second-year players Will Sutton and Ego Ferguson, both of whom were drafted to play defensive tackle in Mel Tucker's 4-3 defense.
This front will be heavily reliant upon rookie nose tackle Eddie Goldman and veteran end Jeremiah Ratliff, who turns 34 before the start of the season.
It's hard to argue with Chicago's placement on this list, but at least there are young players with potential on the team.
Losing McDonald will hurt the transition, because here was a guy that knows exactly what Fangio wants, but it opens up an opportunity for former draft picks Ferguson, Sutton, and Cornelius Washington to step up their game. Plus with teams spending so much time in a nickel defense these days, the 3 starting defensive linemen and their roles aren't as influential in the grand scheme of things.
In passing situations I expect to see Fangio trot out his best pass rushing group, and that group may only have one or two defensive linemen on it.
The Bears also garnered an honorable mention in NFL.com's weakest linebacker category.
Outside of free-agent acquisition Pernell McPhee, the Bears have a host of linebackers better suited for their old 4-3 defense
This is a fair assessment. Most of their returning defensive ends are learning how to play 3-4 OLB and the returning linebackers are all learning new positions.
What are your thoughts on the Bears D-Line and linebackers? Does their inexperience and depth concern you?