Few Bears have gone down as many different paths as Shea McClellin and races are not won before the quarter pole. But McClellin’s conversion to inside linebacker after unsuccessful fits at defensive end and strongside linebacker already has produced results beyond those at his previous two stops.
McClellin currently leads the Bears with 29 tackles, matching his entire output from the 2013 season, based on the team’s internal film review. If there is a concern it is that McClellin has yet to make a tackle for loss but he is not alone in that respect.
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Linebacker Pernell McPhee and safety Adrian Amos are the only non-linemen to have a tackle for loss through three games. McPhee was credited with two TFL’s against the Seattle Seahawks to go with his first two sacks of 2015.
McPhee has five multi-sack games in his career. Four of those have come in his last 13 regular-season games, dating back to Week 7 last season with the Baltimore Ravens.
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“Some of that [attack] ‘dog’ started coming out,” McPhee said on Monday. “That’s that fun part. Jarvis [Jenkins, defensive end], a guy like me, you know, Shea, a couple guys, Amos, Big Eddie [Goldman] – it was a lot of them.
“The whole 11, including the other guys who came off the bench; you could see in some of the plays we were playing with an attitude, we were playing with a swag, and all that goes to show that it’s coming along. The defense is starting to play together.”
After he threw three interceptions in the first half of the Tampa Bay-Pittsburgh game on MNF, Ryan Fitzmagic has reverted to just plain Ryan Fitzpatrick. The result is that the Bears likely should expect to see Jameis Winston at quarterback when the Buccaneers show up in Soldier Field next Sunday.
This would not necessarily be good news for the Bears, even with Winston starting this season with a three-game suspension for violating the NFL’s personal-conduct policy.
Last-place finishes in the standings by the Bears and Bucs have had Winston facing the Bears each of his three NFL seasons, all three in Raymond James Stadium. After the Bears escaped with a victory in Winston’s rookie (2015) season, the Buccaneers outscored the Bears by a combined 65-17 in Winston’s last two meetings with them.
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Needing deeper thoughts
No surprise really, but the Bears are leading the NFC North with the lowest-rated quarterback in the division:
No. Player Rating
8 Aaron Rodgers 104.5
12 Kirk Cousins 98.8
23 Matthew Stafford 83.4
25 Mitch Trubisky 77.8
Trubisky does rank ahead of rookies Josh Allen of Buffalo and the Jets’ Sam Darnold but he does stand 26th in yards per attempt at a very underwhelming 5.68
But Trubisky and the offense produced produced only six plays of 12 yards or longer at Green Bay and six against Seattle. Against the Cardinals, the Bears had nine, but those included three on runs, by Tarik Cohen (21 and 17 yards) and Jordan Howard (17), plus four short completions with yards after catches.
The irony is that the offense is getting a completion rate from Trubisky – 69.2 – that is axiomatic for success with West Coast offenses. But his overall accuracy continues to inconsistent: His completion percentage is its lowest (51.16) in the red zone, and he has established zero deep threat based on accuracy on throws longer than 10 yards.
“Those are important to have and we need to start connecting on those,” said coach Matt Nagy. “It's great to take the opportunity of going deep, those are great, but they're way better and they mean a lot more when you connect on them… .
“I thought that there were some good ones and I thought there were some he could get better at. That's where we're at. He'll be the first to tell you that. We'll do everything we possibly can each week to make sure we limit those inaccuracies.”
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Funky stats and factoids aren’t all that difficult to find in the NFL; all the teams that could’ve drafted Tom Brady or Joe Montana, that sort of thing.
So isn’t there something at least lightly amusing about the Miami Dolphins, the Bears’ opponent on Oct. 14 coming out of the off week, sitting at 3-0 and sharing the No. 1 spot in the AFC with the Kansas City Chiefs?
Behind quarterback Ryan Tannehill, the NFL’s No. 3 passer (121.8 rating)?
Under offensive coordinator Dowell Loggains?
The Bears defense did the heavy lifting in their Week 3 win over the Arizona Cardinals, generating a turnover and forcing a quarterback change to keep Mitchell Trubisky and company in the game.
Khalil Mack was a major key to the victory, but the rest of the defense really stepped up too. It was actually Eddie Jackson and Akiem Hicks who were the Bears’ highest-graded starters in the game by Pro Football Focus.
They both made PFF’s Week 3 Team of the Week for their performances.
Technically, Sherrick McManis was PFF’s highest-graded player for Chicago, recording a sack and an interception on only five snaps played.
Mack was right behind Jackson and Hicks to lead the defense, while Jordan Howard was the Bears’ highest-graded offensive player.
On the other end of the spectrum, Mitchell Trubisky was the lowest-graded player on the team. He was the fourth-lowest graded QB in Week 3, ahead of only Tyrod Taylor and both Cardinals quarterbacks.
Matt Nagy will need better from his quarterback down the line, but for now, the Bears have found a way to ride their defense to the top of the NFC North standings.