Head coach John Fox made a big announcement Wednesday when he revealed that the Chicago Bears will switch from their iconic 4-3 defense to a 3-4 defense for the 2015 season.
“We are going to be out of a 3-4 terminology wise,” he told reporters ahead of the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis. “Players will help us define what we’re going to be.”
The news doesn’t come as much of a shock from a coaching perspective, as new defensive coordinator Vic Fangio worked with the 3-4 during his tenure with the San Francisco 49’ers, but from a personnel standpoint, the news is slightly more surprising. The Bears have played with a 4-3 system throughout their history (Buddy Ryan's famed 46 defense was a slight exception, keeping four down linemen but loading eight players into the box), so most of their players were drafted with the idea that they would fit into that traditional system, rather than the newer concepts of having just three down linemen and four linebackers.
Despite those limitations, Fox did address some of the issues, including what to do with Jared Allen and Willie Young. Both players will line up as outside linebackers, according to Fox, and even though Allen has never played anything other than defensive end in the NFL, Fox is confident that he will be able to make the transition.
“It’d be hard for me to evaluate it until we get him out there, but he’s a good football player,” Fox told the Chicago Sun-Times. “He’s got good football instincts. And my experience has been that works in a two-point or a three-point.”
Fox also said that he will evaluate Shea McClellin at both the inside and outside linebacker positions this season, meaning that the former first round draft pick is likely going to stick around for at least another year. McClellin played the outside linebacker position in a 3-4 defense at Boise State during his collegiate days.