Home Football Strategies 46 Bear Formation Breakdown

46 Bear Formation Breakdown


In this Xs Os Football Strategies breakdown, we take an in-depth look at the 46 Bear defense and how it applies to football video games such as Madden by looking at it’s strengths and weaknesses.

The Bear 46 Defense is an attacking 8 man front that has its roots, like Tom Landry’s 43 Defense, the Eagle defense of the early and mid 50’s era. Buddy Ryan sought to correct the mistakes of the old Eagle scheme and developed perhaps the most dominating defense in NFL Football history with the 1985 Chicago Bears; hence the name BEAR defense.

46bear thumb 46 Bear Formation Breakdown

The Bear defense is predicated upon one philosophy. That philosophy is relentless pressure on the offense at all levels. Such a philosophy ideally creates turnovers, dictates the flow of the game as well as what the offense can do, creates scoring opportunities on defense, and controls short yardage situations. Therefore, it is pressure that wins games. This 8 man attacking front is similar to the 4-3 defense in that it requires: 1) Speed from the linebackers and secondary players; and 2) players MUST be aggressive. Additionally the defense itself requires good coverage men. In the hands of a skilled gamer the BEAR defense can be a devastating force.


  • Does an excellent job at defending the run.
  • Places 8 defenders in the box that are committed to stopping the run.
  • Play 1 and 2 Gap control schemes.
  • Creates confusion for pass protection schemes as the offense doesn’t know who could be coming.


  • Can be lit up against spread offenses.
  • Needs fast corners who can press on the outside when man coverage is called.

Madden 12 Playbooks the 46 Bear Can Be Found In

  • 46
  • Broncos
  • Titans

Key Plays

  • 2 Man Under
  • 46 Mid Blitz
  • Buzz Weak 3
  • Safety Fire
  • Wall Stunt

Key Defenders for the 46 Bear Defense

Below we take a look at the key defenders for the 46 Bear defenses to be successful.

46bearmain thumb 46 Bear Formation Breakdown

The 46 is a peculiar alignment that has two linebackers stacked over one tight end.

46bearre thumb 46 Bear Formation Breakdown

One of the key cogs in the defense is the weak side defensive end. In the original 46 Bear defense Richard Dent manned this spot and terrorized Quarterbacks for the Chicago Bears. Dent was the weak side rusher in the Bears defense and dominated the league in 1985 with 17 sacks. Reggie White also manned this spot for the Philadelphia Eagles Gang Green unit under Buddy Ryan. Both men put fear in the hears of offensive tackles and Quarterbacks.  The open end is a speed rusher. The key to his success is stunting the other players on the line as well as the Safety who lines up behind him.

46bearss thumb 46 Bear Formation Breakdown

The strong safety is the Adjuster in the 46. He will move around in the defense and is one of the big keys to the success of the open end. Be sure to have a speed guy at this position who can both cover and tackle well. The defensive line covers all three interior offensive linemen which makes it difficult to block the Mike linebacker. This allows the Mike to run down hill against the run.

46bearolbs thumb 46 Bear Formation Breakdown

Finally the outside linebackers gang up on the tight end and make his day a rough one. Their task is to beat up on the tight end and not give him a free release in the pass game as well as contain the outside run to the strong side in the running game.


    • To the questions about multiple tight end sets, that’s a good question, and you have to coach the adjustments you want to make.

      So far as I can tell in digital football, that puts additional pressure on the DB’s by neutralizing or minimizing linebacker pressure. If you’re playing your LB, you can jam and cover, drop back, or blitz depending on your assessment of the second TE’s threat.

      In real life, two TE sets can neutralize the pressure of Sam. There are a couple of ways to adjust depending on what the DC’s goals are for the play. That will depend largely on personnel, of course. Against a good receiving TE on the outside (one team in my league always cultivates such a beast), I judge my personnel:

      If my LB’s have very good cover skills, they pick up the threat M2M.

      If not, I typically cheat the FS over against the seam and spider, but that leaves me really vulnerable to the long-ball on the weak side. (My best corner is usually on that side for exactly that reason.)

      If your LB’s aren’t that great or don’t match up well against the TE’s, you have to play more conservatively and go back on your heels a little. There have been teams I knew I couldn’t play with in a Bear46 against 2 TE’s: in those cases, you have to be flexible.

  1. “The 46 Defense, um, to make it very plain and to the point, is all about pressure.”
    -Mike Singletary, Bears MLB, 1981-1992, HOF 1998, on “America’s Game: 1985 Bears”

    Yes, I read; you paraphrased that quote below the 1st graphic.


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