I decided to do a countdown to the Chicago Bears season opener on September 8th versus the Cincinnati Bengals. Thanks to one of my followers on Twitter @Beneiserle, I decided to combine the countdown with a roster preview of sorts.
So today, Saturday June 1st, we’re Shea McClellin days away from the opener and the second year defensive end is a great place to start the roster preview.
McClellin was Phil Emery’s first selection as GM and the pressure is definitely on in Year 2. With Israel Idonije seemingly on the way out the door by not accepting the Bears’ standing contract offer, the pressure is on McClellin to build on a solid though far from stellar first year. McClellin played in roughly 35% of the Bears’ defensive snaps in 2012 and had just 14 tackles and 2.5 sacks. Those numbers don’t stack up with his peers like Chandler Jones and Whitney Mercilus who were on the board when Phil Emery surprised a lot of people with the selection of the Boise State prospect projected by many scouts as a 3-4 OLB.
To that end, it’s telling that at certain points last season, McCellin was spying the quarterback or dropping into coverage. He certainly one of the fastest front-7 guys on the Bears. I’m not ruling out a change to a 3-4 defense down the road for the Bears, so it’s certainly possible that McClellin will have more value down the road. In the present version of the Bears defense, McClellin will be in the top 3 DE rotation with Julius Peppers and Corey Wooton. McClellin needs to up his game versus the run and become more than just a “high energy, try hard white guy” or at the very least, become “high energy, try hard white guy” with a lot more sacks.