Bears' pass rush needs Pernell McPhee, but when will he return?

Bears' pass rush needs Pernell McPhee, but when will he return?

Pernell McPhee was effectively the jumping-off point for the Ryan Pace/John Fox regime, the foundation pass rusher in the tradition of Julius Peppers and Von Miller, the first-year building blocks that Fox was provided in Carolina and Denver, respectively. McPhee’s left knee gradually brought him down as last season went along, eventually requiring surgery from which McPhee has yet to return.

McPhee is eligible to be moved from the physically unable to perform designation to the active roster as early as Thursday for the Bears' game against Green Bay. With virtually no practice (Tuesday’s was an extended walk-through only), McPhee is not expected to be available for Green Bay, a disappointment because McPhee delivered 13 combined tackles in the two games against the Packers last season.

For his part, McPhee is at least maintaining the front that he could play.

“How (do) I feel? Physically?” he said on Tuesday. “I feel like I’ve been blessed to wake up and see another day. I’ve got all my health. I’m breathing good. I’m feeling great.”

Not exactly an “I’ll be ready” statement. But if the flesh is still mending, the spirit is there: “Just nasty, hard-nosed, going crazy on the field type guy. Just physical, man. I’m just going to bring a physical impact, man.”

That would be an upgrade, even if McPhee is limited and possibly used only in obvious passing situations where he would not be tasked with holding the point against the run and offensive linemen.

That is unlikely.

“This (Packers) team does no-huddle a lot,” defensive coordinator Vic Fangio said. “And you have seen from watching them play over the years what they try to do when you substitute at the wrong time. He’s got to be able to fill in and play just like everybody else.”

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The Bears' pass rush for too much of the season — certainly for the past two games — has consisted of Willie Young and ... well just Willie Young. Akiem Hicks had a sack of Andrew Luck. So did Jonathan Bullard. Other than that? Crickets.

It should not be the least bit surprising.

The situation: The defense has averaged a little more than two sacks per game, 13 total, right on the league average of 12.7.

But the bigger view is alarming, given that while stopping the run is paramount, if a defense cannot then endanger the quarterback with any degree of consistency, the ultimate outcome is predictable.

The Bears have just 24 total quarterback pressures. That includes their sacks. Meaning the Bears have pressured quarterbacks just 11 other times, based on their own accounting.

The reality: The defense played the past two games without three of its four projected top pass rushers. Lamarr Houston is done for the year with a knee injury. McPhee hasn’t played yet because of his knee injury. Leonard Floyd was inactive with a calf strain and has faded after starting the first four games, albeit with diminishing participation (80, 71, 60 and 30 percent of the snaps) before going inactive for Indianapolis and Jacksonville.

“We have this whole cottage industry in the offseason about the draft and free agency,” Fangio said. “And (when) you get a good player and then he’s no longer there. It has an effect on you.”

The Bears have the top-ranked defense in Madden 20, plus other takeaways from today's ratings reveal

The Bears have the top-ranked defense in Madden 20, plus other takeaways from today's ratings reveal

A boatload of Madden ratings dropped on Monday, and with it, more content than you could shake a stick at. 

The Bears, predictably, got a fair bit of love on the defensive side of the ball and were largely ignored on offense. 

No Fangio, No Problem

For a wide variety of reasons, it's trendy to point out that the Bears' defense is headed for some regression this season. Madden disagrees, though, rating the Bears defense (88) as the best in football. They did also give the Houston Texans' defense an 88 as well, but never let the details get in the way of a good story. Here's what they said: 

For Chicago, the unit is fronted by 99 Club member, LOLB Khalil Mack. FS Eddie Jackson (91 OVR) is a Superstar X-Factor like his teammate, Mack. That’s a scary combination for any opposing quarterback. Toss in CB Kyle Fuller (89 OVR) and you can see why this Bears unit should roar out of the gate in Madden 20. 

Year 2 Mitch Doesn't Get Any Love 

Trubisky was rated as the 24th best QB, which is already being debated passionately, regardless of how debatable it actually is. What's lowkey worse is that Chase Daniel, the 9-year NFL vet, got the same rating as Dax Raymond, the undrafted free agent. 

May We Remind You That Khalil Mack Is A Terrific Football Player 

Earlier in the month, Mack was revealed as one of the 4 players who received the infamous 99 rating. That means he's also the top-ranked LOLB, two points ahead of Denver's Von Miller and 16 points ahead of any NFC North LOLB. Enjoy those draft picks, Oakland! 

Akiem Hicks Gets Snubbed And Frankly We've Just About Had It 

Hicks was ranked as the 19th-best defensive lineman, which is just objectively untrue. In some alternate universe, there may be 18 better defensive linemen than Akiem Hicks, but that is just simply inaccurate in this one. He was heated about his rating, and we cannot blame him. 

The Lowest Ranked Bears Player Was ... 

Patrick Scales. Sorry Patrick Scales.

Akiem Hicks not happy with Madden 20 ratings: ‘Tell them to come see me’

Akiem Hicks not happy with Madden 20 ratings: ‘Tell them to come see me’

EA Sports released the full Madden 20 player ratings for every team in the NFL, and not everyone was happy with the numbers they received.

The Bears shared a video of backup quarterback Chase Daniel revealing ratings to his teammates, and defensive lineman Akiem Hicks seemed the most upset of the group.

“Bring some of the scouts out here doing the madden ratings,” Hicks said. “Tell them to come see me.”

Hicks received an overall rating of 87, tied for fourth-highest on the team and 10th-highest among defensive ends.

He has the same rating as Green Bay Packers DE Mike Daniels and Detroit Lions DE Trey Flowers.

In the video, running back Tarik Cohen was disappointed with his 92 speed, which is tied for third-fastest on the team behind wide receivers Taylor Gabriel and Emanuel Hall.

Cohen does lead the Bears with 97 agility and 92 elusiveness, but he thought his throwing power stat should be higher than 51 after his two career passing touchdowns.