Bears clearly thinking 'outside' the box at linebacker


Bears clearly thinking 'outside' the box at linebacker

Second in a series

Who’s in: Lamarr Houston, Pernell McPhee

Where do they fit? Sam Acho, Jared Allen, David Bass, Cornelius Washington, Willie Young

McPhee was the launch point of the Bears’ offseason personnel acquisitions. But he is far from the only significant move coming at outside linebacker, perhaps the single most important spot in the still-forming Bears 3-4 because of its pass-rush role in an NFL tilted toward enabling that style of offense.

Houston’s rehab from a torn ACL suffered at New England last year for the time being frees up reps for others who will be trying to secure a spot in the changing defense. Pending his recovery, Houston is one of the expected eventual starters, back at outside linebacker where he gained some experience while with the Oakland Raiders.

“What’s good about Pernell is his flexibility,” Bears general manager Ryan Pace said. “So you can say, ‘OK, he’s going to play 3-4 outside linebacker,’ but if we’re getting our best pass rushers on the field, he’s flexible enough to do multiple things. Just like Houston is.”

[MORE BEARS: Bears' lineup of 'bubble' players growing with each signing]

The fits of Houston and McPhee, however, did not stop the Bears from acquiring Acho, an emerging rush threat with the Arizona Cardinals before suffering a broken fibula early in the 2013 season.

With his combination of size and pass-rush ability, McPhee likely will lead the Bears D in snaps this year. But it may come at someone’s expense, and Allen and Young may move from starters in the Bears’ 4-3 of 2014, to situational tweeners in Bears’ 3-4 of 2015.

One notable trend in the OLB acquisitions is the sheer size: Acho is 257 pounds, McPhee 280, and Houston played last year in the 275 range. That translates into a mix of rush ability and strength at the point vs. the run, and none of Allen, Bass, Washington or Young fit that template.

Both Pace and head coach John Fox met with Allen, an Arizona resident, while they were attending the recent NFL owners meetings.

[SHOP: Get the latest Bears gear here]

Pace places a premium at OLB on pass rush, followed (in order) by setting the edge and then dropping in coverage. Allen and Young are likely restricted to situational pass rushing because neither is as much as 260 pounds.

“Physically, [Allen] had a rough year last year,” said Fox, who had hoped a year ago to lure Allen to the Denver Broncos. “In particular for big guys or really any position, your weight, your strength level, all those things physically have a lot to do with how you perform on Sundays.

“I think in his case he got pneumonia, he lost 19, 20 pounds, and in the middle of a marathon that is hard to recover from. That’s an analogy I use for a football season. So, I don’t know if it was his best season.”

Neat Tweets: The reaction from a not-so-neat loss in Miami

Neat Tweets: The reaction from a not-so-neat loss in Miami

The Bears dropped a heartbreaker yesterday, losing in OT to Brock Osweiler and the Dolphins. 

It wasn't a great look for the Bears, who were coming out of the bye and looking to establish themselves as one of the NFC's best. 

BearsTwitter, if you can believe it, wasn't pleased. The game featured a weird mix of existential dread and a humerous understanding that Brocktober is a mystical force that cannot fully be explained. 

Here were the most neat tweets from yesterday's loss: 















Week 7 NFL Power Rankings: Outside the top, no clear picture yet

Week 7 NFL Power Rankings: Outside the top, no clear picture yet

Last night's 43-40 game between the Patriots and Chiefs said more about the NFL than it did either team playing in it. 

Through the first seven weeks, there are pretty clearly three very good NFL teams: the Rams, the Pats, and the Chiefs. 

After that? Who knows. The Chargers look strong, but have looked strong for years -- and have what to show for it? After a good start, the Jaguars have looked actively terrible. The Steelers are rounding into form and yet still find themselves in third place. All three of the NFC East's contenders are sitting at .500 or barely better. 

How'd your probably-mediocre team do in our Power Rankings this week? 

Wait no longer! You can find out right here.