Bears: Can get creative with new piece, McPhee

| 2 years ago

Bears: Can get creative with new piece, McPhee

PFF-headlinesVersatility is a big selling point in free agency and in Pernell McPhee the Chicago Bears have acquired arguably the league’s most versatile defensive free agent. By snaps played, McPhee was the Ravens’ No. 4 outside linebacker last season but his ability to rush the passer from across the defensive front ensured that he was able to get on the field with Terrell Suggs and Elvis Dumervil to give the Ravens a three-headed monster of a sub-package pass rush.

As valuable as McPhee was last season, he was always going to be too expensive for the cap-strapped Ravens to keep and their loss is the Bears’ gain. The challenge for the Bears will be working out how to maximize McPhee and with it their investment in him. McPhee’s big selling point this season was his versatility as a pass rusher in sub-packages but he played very little in the Ravens’ base defense. This level of investment would imply the need for the Bears to find a fit for McPhee in their base, but where is that?

Untested as an outside linebacker, McPhee has experience as a 3-4 defensive end from 2012, though as a starter for the first six weeks he struggled as a run defender and returned to a more favorable role as a situational player for the remainder of the season. Alternatively, the Bears may choose not to shoehorn McPhee into their base defense. The production the Ravens got from McPhee in sub-packages last season was exceptional; his 64 total pressures (8 Sk, 21 Ht, 35 Hu) were tied for seventh-most among all edge defenders. The Bears could reasonably decide that they can get 1,000 snaps worth of production from McPhee on 600 snaps and thus don’t need to force him to play on every down.

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| Director of Analysis

Ben joined Pro Football Focus in 2007, and has since been in charge of the company’s analysis process. He also contributes to PFF’s weekly NFL podcast.

  • Jason Williams

    ok but you said the exact same things about lamarr houston last year and I was not overwhelmed with his production before he blew out his knee Lions-style.

    • Thomas James

      From what Coach Fox is saying the Bears view Allen, McPhee, Young, and Houston as a group of semi-interchangeable parts that may either play defensive end or outside linebacker in the new system depending on package and “how they look on grass.” They all profile as outside LBs at the moment though (maybe Houston could gain a little weight/strength and become a more pure 3-4 DE?), which leaves them virtually barren on the D-line. Ratliff is the guy they are counting on at nose tackle, but in my opinion depth is needed there to challenge him and this group really needs a pure 3-4 style defensive end or two as well in order to take shape. Leon Williams is going to be awfully attractive if he somehow manages to fall to #7.

    • bjohans

      I really think the Bears and Mel Tucker played Houston out of position last year. Houston tried to shed weight so he can be a pass rushing DE. However when he had success in Oakland he was basically a 5 technique DE who could rush from the interior. Losing all that weight didn’t allow him to do that. He’d be a good DE in the Bears new system, but it looks like they are going to work him out at OLB which I think is another mistake.