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Current and former Bears special teams coaches debate style

Joe DeCamillis, Matt Johnson, Tyrone Crawford, George Bryan AP

New Chiefs special teams coach Dave Toub likes his move from Chicago, in part because he thinks a 3-4 defense gives him a better cast of players to work with.

But the guy who replaced him in Chicago has taken the opposite approach, saying he’s grateful the Bears are keeping a 4-3 scheme.

“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,” Bears special teams coach Joe DeCamillis said, via Brad Biggs of the Chicago Tribune. “Most of the time, 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.”

DeCamillis worked with 3-4 personnel in Dallas, but because of injuries that hit their defense like a plague, he was often working with third, fourth and fifth-option types of players in the kicking game.

Toub voiced the prevailing sentiment among special teams coaches, that a 3-4 gives him an advantage because of the extra linebackers that are part of the game-day active roster (since few defensive linemen have the speed required to play a big role in kick and punt coverage or return teams).

“You will have eight and sometimes nine linebackers active,” Toub said. “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.”

While either system can work, the biggest thing a special teams coach needs is health among the starters on defense. Since the majority of his unit will be the backup linebackers and defensive backs, injuries to those areas on defense can strip away his “starters” and force new guys (which are sometimes signed off the street once the season starts) into new roles.

That instability, more than any schematic decision, can spell doom for a special teams unit.

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5 Responses to “Current and former Bears special teams coaches debate style”
  1. vertskate900 says: Feb 18, 2013 11:58 AM

    If I remember correctly, when the Bears’ special teams were at their best a few years back, running backs like Adrian Peterson (#29) and Garrett Wolfe would lead the team in special teams tackles. Just saying.

  2. bla bla bla says: Feb 18, 2013 12:09 PM

    It will be interesting to see if the Bears’ Special Teams units experience any kind of serious drop-off with Dave Toub gone.

    As A Packer fan I would be inclined to follow whatever advice he chose to offer. For those that don’t follow the NFC North, the Bears’ ST have been absolutely stellar for a very long time.

  3. packfanssuck says: Feb 18, 2013 5:57 PM

    I’m sorry, you lost me (and all credibility), as soon as I read “as a packer fan”

  4. sowcrates says: Feb 18, 2013 6:24 PM

    Good points by bla bla bla and vertskate900 above, I didn’t see lack of linebackers as a cause for concern in Chicago’s kick/punt COVERAGE in all the years Toub was in Chicago. Whether or not Toub thinks having the extra linebackers makes a difference for him on the kick/punt return squads is a potentially different matter, because there’s been a noticeable drop-off in Chicago’s return game from when Danieal Manning and Johnny Knox were pro bowl kick returners that beat out Hester to the KR job for averaging nearly 30 yards/return

  5. yelix says: Feb 18, 2013 6:31 PM

    Hiring Dave Toub is quietly one of the best decisions the Chiefs have made in years. The Chiefs have been mediocre-to-bad on special teams for a long time. Hopefully, that will change.

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