Bears film study: Why not bring back the 4-3 defense?
Clearly, everything went well for the Bears on Sunday against the Texans, so let's begin this week's film study with a special project:
Spirit of 46:
If you are of a certain age and grew up watching football in Chicago, you hold these truths to be self-evident that Buddy Ryan is the greatest defensive coordinator in the history of the game.
So yes, I'm a little biased, but also think it's past the time for the Bears to switch a 4-3 defense, for the following reasons: For starters, it would free up Roquan Smith to make more plays. Too often, he and Danny Trevathan get in each other's way in the 5-2 alignment. Let's make Smith a true middle linebacker and let him join the franchise's greatest tradition
It could also improve the pass rush. The Bears exploded for 7 sacks on Sunday, which had a lot to do with DeShaun Watson's habit of holding the ball instead of making obvious throws. For most of this season, the Bears have done little blitzing, rarely stunt and the pass rush has been a disappointment, ranking 16th in the league in sacks.
As Ryan proved, you can send a variety of blitzes from the 4-3, and the Bears have one of the league's best set of corners with Kyle Fuller and Jaylon Johnson. That's a good environment to take some risks up front.
It could work with the current personnel. Imagine Robert Quinn, Bilal Nichols, Akiem Hicks and Roy Robertson-Harris across the front, with Khalil Mack, Smith and Barkevious Mingo at linebacker. Mingo isn't much of a pass rusher, but he's shown a few times he has ridiculous speed for his size, so why not put him in space? Stand-up linebacker would be a new role for Mack, but he'd have freedom to play just about anywhere he wants.
This lineup doesn't have a spot for Trevathan, who just signed a four-year extension over the summer, so maybe it's not feasible. It's also hard to tell by watching film how important Trevathan's leadership is to helping the defense function. But it is obvious opposing teams have sought him out in pass coverage.
Trubisky's time to shine:
Any 3-touchdown day by Mitch Trubisky should be celebrated, but don't get carried away. He did a nice job of taking what the defense was giving, which in this case was a lot of short stuff.
Astute fantasy players already knew the most important player in the Texans defense is CB Bradley Roby, who was suspended two weeks ago for violating the league's banned substance policy. Without him, Houston ran a very conservative game-plan with the secondary giving plenty of cushion.
Trubisky didn't seem to leave the pocket any more than usual. The Bears have been using the QB bootleg play with a receiver cutting across the formation frequently the past few weeks. Trubisky did make a couple of accurate passes with a rusher in his face, which was good to see.
Allen Robinson also blew past his man a couple of times for deep throws. That hasn't happened often, because let's face it, Robinson's greatest strength is his hands, not his feet.
Another long run:
David Montgomery's 80-yard run on the Bears' first offensive snap was a thing of beauty, no doubt. But like many long runs in the NFL, it happened mostly because the defense screwed up.
In this case, it was Texans LB Tyrell Adams charging the line and leaving the middle completely open. Then safety Justin Reid had a chance to make the tackle and missed.
My vote for best block on this play was RT Germain Ifedi, who executed a reach block on DT Carlos Watkins, allowing RG Alex Bars to seal off the middle linebacker. J.J. Watt stayed home watching Trubisky on the read option, so he was no factor. This play was actually similar to last week's fourth-and-one fail at the end of the Detroit game. This time, Ifedi had less ground to cover and got it done.
The rest of the day, Montgomery had 10 carries for 33 yards, so there is no run game breakthrough. But Montgomery had two weeks off between the bye and sitting out the Vikings game, and he does look quicker and more explosive in these last three games. Also three straight weeks of the same starting offensive linemen has to be a plus.