Last season, we at Da Bears Brothers thought that Pernell McPhee had too much on his plate.
He was looking more gassed as the season went on and it seemed like his presence was largely ineffective. Going into a new 3-4 system, teams knew that McPhee was the only threat and made sure he was a non-factor. We all thought in 2015 that McPhee would lead the team in sacks and be the tough, resilient leader on a new defense. He ended the season with 53 total tackles and finished third on the team in sacks with six. Not what was expected.
McPhee has only played in two games this season coming back from a knee injury.
He has accumulated one lone tackle, a sack, and a forced fumble. While his physical presence may not totally be showing up on the stat sheet so far, McPhee is still providing a spark to a thin Bears defense.
Against Green Bay, the Bears defense allowed 13 points through three quarters and they were in the game until the depleted secondary just could not keep up. The Pack doubled their points, but it was largely late in the fourth quarter.
In the match up with Minnesota, McPhee gathered his lone tackle and sack on the year. What you may not have noticed are the four quarterback hits.
Consider the last two games to be warm ups as the Bears enter the second half of the schedule.
McPhee is a Leader by Example
Making the Packers offense look bad for a little over three quarters of the game was a step in the right direction. That was the best the Bears defense looked all season, and I think a big reason is that Pernell McPhee was in pads … and not in street clothes.
He may not have played a lot that game, but his teammates knew that one of their outspoken leaders was back and hungry. That energy fed to the rest of the team.
Against the Vikings, McPhee played hard, and T.J. Clemmings could not keep up. While McPhee only had a tackle, and a sack. He was constantly finding ways to get in the backfield. More times than not, McPhee was around the ball. We are used to seeing that from Jerrell Freeman, but it looks even better when two guys are always swarming the ball.
In fact, the defense played so well it made the Vikings offensive coordinator, Norv Turner, resign. Obviously, there’s more to the story than that … but it’s more fun to say that is the sole reason Turner resigned.
The defense has recently looked hungry like the “dogs” McPhee says they are. It has been the defense that we have all wanted to see since the beginning of the season.
It’s one thing to have a vocal leader on the sidelines, but when he gets out there and plays with the team…that energy is contagious.
We’re seeing it reflected in the rookie Leonard Floyd. He has played an exceptional last two games, racking up five total tackles, three sacks, and a forced fumble that he recovered for a touchdown. The Bears needed something to jump start this defense that has given up on average 22 points per game. That something was getting McPhee back in pads and out onto the field.