Bears head coach John Fox said earlier this offseason that one of the reasons he, a 4-3 coach virtually his entire career, liked the 3-4 scheme because it made it difficult to tell who was rushing the quarterback. (Seeing it live for the first time on Tuesday, he wasn’t kidding.)
Fox also said all offseason that he was holding off on position decisions and assignments until he had time to see his 2015 Bears “on the grass,” meaning the practice fields of Halas Hall.
That process began in earnest on Tuesday with the start of the team’s first minicamp, this one voluntary. And if observers weren’t sure who was rushing the quarterback, they were even less sure of even who was where.
[MORE BEARS: Matt Forte passing up Bears voluntary minicamp]
Which underscored Fox’s overall point.
While considerable attention will be focused this offseason at what happens with certain individuals and positions – Tim Jennings’ No. 1 cornerback spot, whether Kyle Long is a guard or tackle, how will Jared Allen, Shea McClellin, Willie Young and others will fit a totally new scheme – conclusions were in very short supply.
Rules prohibit getting into specific personnel packages, schemes, plays and such. But even without limits on putting out what the team considers competitive information, suffice it to say:
[MORE BEARS: Fuller, Forte honored at Piccolo awards]
Jeremiah Ratliff is the only defensive lineman listed as “NT” on the Bears’ roster. He won’t be attending the three-day camp. Ego Ferguson was mentioned by GM Ryan Pace as a nose tackle, but Ferguson was all over the three-man defensive line on Tuesday.
Asked whether he was a nose, five-technique, end, tackle, what? Ferguson laughed: “Just say, ‘defensive lineman.’”
So was Will Sutton. So was Jarvis Jenkins. So was Allen.
Fox said that McClellin would start out at one of the inside linebacker spots. McClellin did. So did four other linebackers, in multiple permutations.
You get the point.
And as far as how well former 4-3 players fit generally into the new scheme:
“I think there's enough carryover that other than OLB vs. DE, I mean that's just alphabet, it's the same job description in my experience,” Fox said. “Whether a guy's been a holdover, I mean, I kept coaches on this staff, so I don't really buy into all that. You try to find good human talent at all levels, upstairs and downstairs, and you go about your business.”