Bears' DeCamillis: 4-3 defense helps special teams
By Brad Biggs, Tribune reporter
10:19 a.m. CST, February 18, 2013
It was not a surprise last week when Chicago Bears defensive coordinator Mel Tucker confirmed the team would be sticking with a base 4-3 defense.
Maybe it didn’t sit well with those pining for a switch, even though the Bears don’t have the personnel to make the conversion. But it is something that Joe DeCamillis believes enhances his special teams unit.
Given his choice, DeCamillis would prefer to coach special teams for a team using a 4-3 scheme because of the crop of players he has to pick from. He’s worked in the role as a coordinator for 20 seasons, and spent the last four seasons in Dallas where the Cowboys used a 3-4 defense. Prior to that, he was a coordinator for the Jacksonville Jaguars, Atlanta Falcons and New York Giants.
“I have worked in both systems now and I would much rather be in a 4-3 system because of the fact that you really have some speed at the linebacker position,” DeCamillis said. “Most of the time, (in a) 3-4 you are playing with bigger people. And, I think the 4-3 is gonna be something that is going to help us and it’s helped this team in the past.”
Interestingly, when former special teams coordinator Dave Toub left for the Kansas City Chiefs, he said he would prefer a 3-4 defense to draw players from, if given his choice. His reasoning is there are more linebackers on the game-day roster to utilize. As it turns out, Kansas City will remain in the 3-4 under new coach Andy Reid.
"I think a 3-4 is better,” Toub said. “You get more linebackers active on the 46-man game day roster. You will have eight and sometimes nine linebackers active. Every time we played a 3-4 team I always thought it was rough for us matchup-wise because they always had more linebackers than us. I always thought a 3-4 was the best special teams situation you can be in.
“That is why in a 4-3, when you run special teams, you always have to have a defensive end like Izzy (Idonije) or Corey Wootton. You have to have one of those guys be a good special teams player. In a 3-4 you don’t because you’ve got more linebackers. That is the difference.”
When the Bears and Cowboys faced one another in Week 4 last season, the Bears had six linebackers dressed for action to seven for Dallas. In the final week of the season, the Bears had six active to play at Detroit and Dallas had eight active for its game at Washington. The Bears linebackers in the two games – Week 4 and Week 17 – averaged 6-foot-1 3/4 inches and 238.5 pounds. The Cowboys linebackers in the two games averaged 6-2 1/2 and 245.9 pounds.
“All I can tell you is what I would prefer,” DeCamillis said. “A lot of times when you think about the 3-4, you’re talking about linebackers on the outside but they are really defensive end-type bodies on the outside. And in the 4-3, you are getting three backups all the way across the board that can run and hit and that’s what it really takes to play on teams.”
The beauty of it is both coaches are entering situations where they will get their preference.
DeCamillis believes 4-3 creates Bears special teams edge - chicagotribune.com