For Bears, scheming is believing

Chicago's defense is supposed to be extinct, but they can still pull it off

Originally Published: October 19, 2012
By Herm Edwards | ESPN Insider
Brian UrlacherDavid Banks/Getty ImagesBrian Urlacher is the perfect middle linebacker for the Bears' Cover 2 defense.

When you think of the Chicago Bears, you think of consistently great defense. Even when they've faced injuries, the scheme has largely held up over the years. And through six weeks of the 2012 NFL season, you'd be hard-pressed to find a defense that's playing better than Chicago's. The unit is allowing 14.2 points per game (best in the NFL), giving up only 65.8 rushing yards per game (best in the NFL) and has 17 takeaways, tied for the league lead.

The Bears have had a strong Cover 2 defense since Lovie Smith took over as head coach in 2004, but this year's unit is performing at an exceptionally high level. The interesting thing is this is a Tampa 2 scheme that many NFL coaches have abandoned as a result of expanding offensive playbooks and nightmare tight end matchups, among other reasons. I've heard plenty of people say the Cover 2 is going extinct.

Yet the Bears are still running it with great success. Are they the last team who can pull it off, a group of veterans perfectly suited for this one scheme?

I don't think so, but they are close to unique in how well their personnel fit what this defense tries to accomplish. Here's a look at why the Tampa 2 still works in today's NFL, why Chicago's defense has been so good at running it this season and whether that makes them a threat to go all the way.