On Wednesday morning at the Scouting Combine, new Chicago Bears head coach John Fox met with the media to discuss a variety of topics relating to his team. With a new coaching staff and front office, there will be changes aplenty in Chicago, and we learned a bit about what some of those changes will be.
Fox opened by confirming that he has "met with quite a few players," but at first did not specify who any of those players were. When pressed about whether he had met with quarterback Jay Cutler specifically, he bristled at the question, saying "I think I said I met with him ... Jay's one that we've met with, yes." He also said "we're not up against a deadline" on making a decision on Cutler's future with the Bears.
Fox later addressed the quarterback position further when asked if the Bears would seriously look to the draft despite having Cutler under contract. Note the lack of commitment to any particular player in his comments here: "we're going to look at all avenues, whether it's free agency, evaluating whether it's the draft ... all those avenues are going to be things you look at to get better. We're in that process now."
Adding to the questions around Cutler were reports just before Fox's press conference suggesting that the Bears staff had met with free agent quarterback (and former Bear) Josh McCown. Fox confirmed that, saying "I think there's obviously interest or we wouldn't have met with him ... He's the right kind of guy, from my perspective, that you want on your football team. We'll see where it goes."
Fox also had news regarding the defense, confirming that the Bears will run a base 3-4 defense under new defensive coordinator Vic Fangio. However, he did caution that the team would adjust that base to the personnel on the team, saying "we're going to be a 3-4, terminology-wise but we haven't had our players on the grass yet ... they'll help us define what we're going to be and how we're gonna use the pieces ... I'm confident that we've pieced together a good defense."
Defensive end Jared Allen is one player who has not played in a 3-4 defense, and Fox was asked if he and Willie Young are going to play outside linebacker in 2015. He confirmed that plan, saying "We'll line them both up there, what they'll become is up to them." On Allen, he was asked further and said that "he's a good football player, he has good football instincts. In my experience, that works in both a two-point and a three-point (stance)."
Later in the day, Bears' GM Ryan Pace echoed some of Fox's comments, further affirming the Bears' move to a 3-4. He said that he believes that "he can be very flexible" and can be used "in a variety of ways." In general, Pace thinks that Allen, Lamarr Houston, and several others have position flexibility and he believes that Fox and Fangio will be able to adjust the scheme to their talents as well. He was also asked if he thinks the Bears have a true 3-4 nose tackle on the roster, and said that he thinks there are "a couple of guys who can do it." One player he alluded to was Jay Ratliff, who spent some time as the nose tackle for the Dallas Cowboys, and he addressed the position in general by saying that the nose tackle "doesn't have to be this big 350-pound space eater."
Stay tuned for more from Indianapolis.