By Adam Hoge-
(CBS) Bears head coach Marc Trestman and general manager Phil Emery are scheduled to speak to reporters Thursday morning at the NFL Combine in Indianapolis.
It will be the first time they have talked publicly since their season-ending press conference when extensions for Jay Cutler, Tim Jennings and Matt Slauson were announced.
So what might we learn Thursday? Here are five topics that will certainly be addressed:
1. What will the defensive scheme look like?
The Bears officially announced Tuesday that they are sticking with a 4-3 base defense in 2014, but that hardly gives fans an idea of what the scheme will actually look like next season. The line between 4-3s and 3-4s continues to be blurred with more and more hybrid defenses popping up across the league. The Bears continue to spread the message they they want to be more versatile on defense and play to the strengths of their players.
“Our pressure packages will fit our personal and be dynamic enough where we can play to guys’ strengths and be unpredictable,” defensive coordinator Mel Tucker told ChicagoBears.com.
2. What’s the plan for Shea McClellin?
When referring to playing “to guys’ strengths,” McClellin is the first player that comes to mind. When we last heard from Trestman in January, he said moving McClellin to linebacker was an option, but it didn’t have to be an option.
In other words, the Bears were considering moving McClellin to linebacker but didn’t want to commit to it yet.
Well, since then, every indication has been that McClellin is indeed moving to linebacker, and he’ll do so in a 4-3 defense. Can he be a successful 4-3 strong-side linebacker? That’s the question the Bears will try to get answered during OTAs and mini-camp, but the guess here is that McClellin heads to Bourbonnais in July as the favorite to be the starting Sam linebacker.
3. What’s behind the defensive coaching staff moves?
Trestman and Emery have not spoken to reporters (other than their own web site) since linebackers coach Tim Tibesar, defensive line coach Mike Phair and assistant defensive line coach Mike Sinclair were let go last month.
It wasn’t surprising to see turnover on that side of the ball considering the struggles in 2013, but it will be interesting to hear their reasoning for the change in direction, as Paul Pasqualoni, Reggie Herring and Clint Hurtt join the staff.
4. Any cuts on the way?
OK, so chances are Emery won’t be announcing any cuts in Indianapolis, but that doesn’t mean he won’t be asked about them.
Julius Peppers, Earl Bennett and Michael Bush appear to be potential cap casualties just based on the financial numbers and their production in 2013.
5. Where do contract negotiations stand?
Josh McCown, Charles Tillman, Henry Melton, Corey Wootton, Nate Collins, D.J. Williams, James Anderson, Roberto Garza and Jeremiah Ratliff — are they all headed to the open market?
Chances are, they won’t all be back. But will any of them be signed before the new league year starts March 11?
There’s a lot to be addressed in Indianapolis as a busy offseason is still just getting started.
Adam Hoge covers the Bears for CBSChicago.com and is a frequent contributor to 670 The Score. Follow him on Twitter at @AdamHoge.