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.”

Predicting the value of Roquan Smith's rookie contract with Bears

Predicting the value of Roquan Smith's rookie contract with Bears

Chicago Bears first-round pick Roquan Smith remains unsigned, a situation that prior to the rookie wage scale would've been cause for concern. With contracts now based on slotting, or where a first-round pick is selected, there's little reason or room for agents to haggle over terms. A holdout isn't expected.

There have been some exceptions to this general principle, however. Joey Bosa, who was selected with the third pick by the Chargers in 2016, held out until August 29 over offset language and his signing bonus. So, while a holdout for Smith is unlikely, it's not impossible.

Assuming he agrees to a contract on time, here's what the terms of his deal should look like, according to CBS Sports:

2018 Cap Number: $3,349,485
Signing Bonus: $11,517,940
Four-year value: $18,477,168

If the numbers are correct, Smith will have the 17th-highest cap hit for the Bears in 2018, according to Spotrac. By comparison, Danny Trevathan has a $7.15 million cap hit this season.

Drafting well is critical for long-term success. If a general manager misses on first-round picks, the cap consequences mount over time. Consider Kevin White, the seventh-overall pick in 2015. He has zero touchdowns in his pro career but has a $5.27 million cap hit this year. Leonard Floyd, the team's first-rounder in 2016, has a $4.30 million cap hit and Mitch Trubisky, last year's second pick overall, is $6.59 million. Pace's four first-round picks, when counting Smith's expected deal, are four of the top-17 paid players on the payroll even though none of them have the production to back it up.

Smith, however, is as close to a bust-free prospect as the Bears have drafted in Pace's tenure. He was considered one of the best pure football players in the entire 2018 draft class and will start immediately alongside Trevathan as a rookie, assuming he's under contract in time to contribute in Week 1.

Which Bears have the highest player rating in Madden 19?

Which Bears have the highest player rating in Madden 19?

The time has come to start counting down to the release of Madden 19. The most popular football video game franchise of all-time is set to release in early August and as is a tradition with the weeks leading up to the game appearing on store shelves, leaks about features and player ratings have started.

Here are the highest rated Bears players in this year's edition:

Adrian Amos leads the way with an 88 rating, followed by Akiem Hicks (85) and Allen Robinson (85). 

Chicago's offense received a 75 overall rating, which should result in a significant challenge for Bears fans trying to score virtual points later this summer. The defense, however, will be stout, coming in with an overall rating of 81. Amos and Hicks have a lot to do with that.

Ratings are subject to change due to injury. Madden 19 is scheduled for release on August 10.