Matt Eberflus talks the importance of positions in his defense including nickel
Matt Eberflus is running a familiar one-gap 4-3 defensive scheme with the Chicago Bears. Essentially the same scheme that the Bears ran under Lovie Smith. During today’s press conference Matt Eberflus was asked about the importance of Roquan Smith filling out the weak-side-linebacker position. He stated that the weak-side linebacker is one of more important positions in the 4-3 defense, but also “the 3-technique, the outside pass rushers, (that the weakside linebacker) and the nickel.”, according to Eberflus.
Typically you don’t see the nickel spot as being a position of primary importance within the 4-3 defense. The nickel spot is typically an afterthought to the boundary corners. But Eberflus hit on something that modern NFL offenses are prioritizing, the player in the slot receiver spot, and operating out of a three receiver set more often than two.
With the emphasis on the nickel spot being more important than the player filling it being the third best cornerback you can clearly see what role the Bears envision for rookie CB Kyler Gordon. Gordon is working primarily in the slot in the nickel role as it were defending that receiver. The Bears didn’t necessarily draft the outside boundary CB, rather they grabbed the player that can take away the Cooper Kupp, Jamar Chase player that lines up and attacks the middle of the field.
Gordon as the nickel makes ideal sense give that Jaylon Johnson is the primary boundary corner and excels in that role on defense. So the Bears aren’t limiting the scope of their best players filling traditional roles, they are ensuring that the slot receiver is locked down within their defense and their tasking Kyler Gordon will filling that role.
It’s a smart move because Gordon doesn’t have blinding straight line speed, but he does have quick twitch change of direction athleticism that is ideally suited for covering the middle of the defense. His skills in the middle of the defense will also relieve pressure on Eddie Jackson so he can apply more coverage pressure to the boundary. Gordon is a solid tackler who doesn’t get fooled and won’t get out leverage in the middle by an agile WR.
Matt Eberflus and the Bears are already setting their defense up for success by thinking in the same terms of the modern NFL offenses rather than the traditional terms that have already been exploited by better offensive minds.
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