With the Bears preparing to face the Steelers’ 3-4 defense Sunday night in Pittsburgh, offensive coordinator Aaron Kromer picked the brain of defensive counterpart Mel Tucker.
Tucker operated a 3-4 scheme as a defensive assistant with the Cleveland Browns.
“Definitely to use a resource like Mel is a smart thing to do and anytime I get a chance to do that I do,” Kromer said. “[I asked him], ‘What gives you headaches in a 3-4? What’s tough on you? What do you want to see in a 3-4?’ That conversation has happened, yes.”
One of the most difficult aspects of playing against a 3-4 defense is diagnosing where the pass rush is coming from. On some plays, the Steelers line up with only one player in a three-point stance. Others blitz from a variety of different spots.
“They play very stout two-gap defense on first and second down with a combination of some pressures,” Kromer said. “But then on third down [defensive coordinator] Dick LeBeau has been known for years to have a lot of tough nickel blitzes; show you one way, blitz the other way, roll a guy from the line of scrimmage down to a deep half to cover. So that’s what makes it difficult. It’s just hard to see where they’re coming from.”
With the Bears as well as their first two opponents this season employing 4-3 defenses, the Chicago offense hasn’t practiced a whole lot against a 3-4 scheme until this week.
“We just don’t see it often,” said quarterback Jay Cutler. “If you don’t see something, if you’re unfamiliar with it, it’s going to take an extra second, an extra click to really get it. But we’ve had a good week so far trying to duplicate it as best we can.”
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