Tuesday’s lively SportsNation chat offered up a topic we haven’t hit much during Chicago’s defensive changes this offseason, but one that will no doubt play a critical role in the Bears’ 2010 season. We’ve spent plenty of time discussing defensive end Julius Peppers and the safety position. But DJ wanted to know what changes new defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli might make, especially in his new role as the primary gameday play-caller.
Here was the exchange:
What type of play calling strategy do you think Marinelli will use? Will he just rush 4 and drop everyone back like [Ron] Rivera or blitz at inopportune times like Lovie [Smith]?
Kevin Seifert (2:37 PM)
I'm guessing he won't blitz much, but that's just a guess based on his Tampa-2 upbringing and the presence of Peppers.
The Bears actually blitzed more than all but four NFL teams last season, according to ESPN’s Stats & Information. With Smith acting as de facto defensive coordinator, the Bears sent more than four pass rushers on 42.6 percent of their defensive plays. Only the New York Jets, New England, Pittsburgh and Cleveland blitzed more.
Like Smith, Marinelli is a long-time devotee of the Tampa-2 scheme, which -- like most defenses -- needs the defensive line to kick up consistent pass rushes on its own. If he wants to remain pure, Marinelli will rely on Peppers and defensive tackle Tommie Harris to handle the pass rush. That would push the blitz numbers down in a meaningful way.
I have no idea if that scenario will materialize or if Marinelli will stray. I do know it will be an issue we’ll observe and continue discussing right up until the season starts. How’s that for taking a stand in May?