BOURBONNAIS — The Bears committed a lot of money – nearly $38 million over five years, $15 million of it guaranteed – in Pernell McPhee. He was the priority signing of the offseason, viewed as bringing size (280 pounds) and pass rush (7.5 sacks in 2014 despite zero starts) to the Bears’ fledgling 3-4 defense.
They may have gotten even more for their money than just one player.
McPhee, whose NFL career began in Baltimore and the Ravens' intimidation defense led by Ray Lewis, Terrell Suggs and Ed Reed, represents not only the linchpin in the scheme overhaul, but also a key element in reshaping nothing less than the entire Chicago defensive persona.
“That’s what we’re going to do this year: Put fear in other teams’ offenses,” McPhee said matter-of-factly. “When they see us come out there, [we want them to think], ‘Whoa, those guys are playing, everybody flies to the ball, everybody’s being very aggressive.’
“Me and the guys talk, and I’ll be, like, ‘We need to be aggressive. We need to be the attackers, not the ones being attacked.’ That’s our mindset right now and that’s what we’re working towards.”
That’s the mindset the Bears’ defense had before the exits of Lovie Smith and Brian Urlacher, and the injury woes of Lance Briggs and Charles Tillman. One player will not entirely undo the malaise of the past two years, but McPhee is willing to grab the “fear” flag and help rally a defense to it.
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Because more than a few members of the defense are thinking the same thing.
“Last year [stunk]; I’m not going to sugarcoat it,” said linebacker/end Jared Allen. “There’s always circumstances around it, but it is what it is.
“And I’m ready to go out and bust someone’s head open, honestly. That’s the kind of year that I want to have.”