Singletary’s knowledge underscores the Bears’ odd offseason strategy originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago
Bears legend and Pro Football Hall of Famer Mike Singletary has forgotten more about defense than most people could learn in several lifetimes.
He understands the ins and outs of each scheme, the pressure points and what each system needs to be successful.
So when Singletary looks at what the Bears have done this offseason, investing heavily in the linebacking corps by adding Tremaine Edmunds and TJ Edwards, he sees a defense that has added talent but lacks the key components.
“In a Tampa Two, you gotta have the front four,” Singletary said on the latest episode of the Under Center Podcast. “You have to get these guys off the ball. And because when you play
Tampa Two, the quarterbacks, know where you’re going to be. You have an idea. So you give a good quarterback that much time, more than three seconds, and it’s going to be a long day. So you have to invest in these four frontmen, the outside supporters. Hey you know you’re that WILL linebacker that’s really the guy that needs to hit that hole, the MIKE linebacker needs to be able to drop and really watch that pass happen down the middle , the SAM linebacker you fill in, but these corners are vital, they really have to be,
really tough and very disciplined. And it makes all the difference in the world with all these different tracks and how the offense is always trying to play in these corners. And when they’re not in their game and stretching the safeties, they make the middle linebacker’s drop invisible.
While general manager Ryan Poles spent heavily on the Bears’ second layer of defense, he didn’t engage in a bidding war for one of the best defensive tackles and failed to add much-needed edge-rushing depth.
You can call Poland disciplined for not giving Javon Hargrave the $80 million contract that the San Francisco 49ers did. Perhaps it was wise not to give $50 million to Dre’Mont Jones, who is more of a 3-4 end than a true three technique.
I can understand why the Poles made these decisions.
But the Bears entered the offseason and needed to fix a defensive line that the opposing quarterbacks couldn’t breathe last season. The Poles had $100 million in salary caps to attack this weak point. He added DeMarcus Walker and defensive tackle Andrew Billings.
Walker has a career year with the Tennessee Titans and is versatile enough to play both indoors and outdoors. He will be a definite upgrade over the recently cut Al-Quadin Muhammad. Billings is a run-stop nose tackle that should be good for 20-25 snaps per game.
Still, those additions aren’t nearly enough to fix a front four that was arguably the worst in the NFL last season. Poland knows that.
“No doubt about it,” said Poles when asked about the lack of depth and talent on the defensive line. “I know you’re feeling at the moment that we need to get everything in order now and options will be limited, but I’m also comfortable with the rest of free agency – we’re only two days into it as in draft , that we can get this group as good as possible.
“And at the same time, there will be some weak points in our squad that we cannot fix everything, but we will remain flexible to try our best to get better. And then you go again From a short term thinking that we need to do everything now, expand on that and do things right, in time we will be able to heal all of these positions.
Poles, head coach Matt Eberflus and his staff spent months meticulously dissecting the upcoming free-agent class. They placed each player in a specific “value bucket” and tried to add as many of these top value players as possible.
It is clear that Edmunds and Edwards have been placed in the top value bucket. The Bears gave Edmunds $72 million as MIKE linebacker, a big deal that doesn’t match the 24-year-old’s performance in his first five seasons.
They wanted to outbid him and other teams to secure his services.
The Bears apparently earned Edwards a hometown discount, but still signed nearly $100 million for two linebackers.
Even if the Bears hit the Edmunds and Edwards ratings, it will mean very little if they don’t find a way to give the unit a facelift ahead of its prized free-agent acquisition.
“If you play Tampa Two, you have to have these four frontmen,” Singletary reiterated. “You have to have a three technique that can be extremely disruptive on those threes, coming off the ball and wreaking all sorts of havoc. The quarterback really needs to get it, come back deep. He has to penetrate. You gotta have that ending, you know, that ending, the blind ending, man, he’s gotta come along. Have to come with me all day. And if you have these guys, you have a chance. That being said, man, quarterbacks are going to have some time, and you
I know you’ll have great athletes behind you, but they won’t be able to get there in time.”
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So what was the plan? Why outbid other teams for a MIKE linebacker at Edmunds without being willing to pay at least a play up front that could make his life easier?
Listen to Singletary, a guy who knows a thing or two about defense, and it’s clear the Bears only put a third of the puzzle together.
It’s a puzzle they can’t solve in an offseason, but the Bears focused all their energy on one corner rather than dispersing it to give them a better sense of what the picture is like.
Poland was disciplined. No doubt. But his tough stance on value has the Bears racing toward the draft with holes throughout the defensive line. Holes that will need at least some patching this offseason or the Bears’ revamped linebacking corps will be mooted this fall.
I expect the Bears to use at least two of their first four picks on the defensive line.
The hope is that the Poles will find at least one game-changer in the early rounds to get the defensive line remodeling underway. This is a loaded edge rusher class with several solid defensive tackles. There’s no excuse for the Bears to go into the 2023 season with a defensive line as flawed as the 2022 edition.
At the moment they have exactly what made the decisions of Polish agency puzzling. P
As Singletary was quick to point out, unless that changes, Poland’s big moves won’t have the desired game-changing impact for a Bears team just beginning a drawn-out rebuild.
Criticism should be reserved. The Poles can still nail the draft, add a veteran or two to the line-up, and the Bears’ defense can go from a full screen to some kind of competence.
But there is a lot to do and little room for error.
Source : sports.yahoo.com