There have been four very important injuries and one suspension in this group. You had Pernell McPhee’s start on the injured list, Leonard Floyd’s movement in and out of the lineup and Danny Trevathan’s thumb injury. Despite these concerns, the Bears linebackers have had great success this season and can be considered the team’s best unit. They have performed above and beyond expectations.
McPhee had surgery on his knee in the offseason, the same knee which had given him problems often in 2015. It was thought that he would be back in time for the start of the season but the injury, and subsequent surgery, must have been much more serious than anyone was led to believe. McPhee started the season on the injured list.
He returned to the lineup against Green Bay and has been playing more snaps every week. It’s nice to have him back in the lineup as a leader and he has been at least a little bit productive with two sacks. He does give the defense another dimension and makes offenses plan around him. McPhee needs to stay healthy, for one and contribute. If he is injured again, those wanting to label him a bust will have a strong argument.
Floyd struggled to stay healthy in the preseason and his start to the season was also a struggle. Floyd was injured in the game against the Detroit Lions (leg) and missed the next two games. He came back strong after the injury and played very well. A few of his former critics were removing his “bust” label and calling him a “steal” in the draft. He was making general manager Ryan Pace look like a genius.
The bottom fell out for Floyd last week against the Giants. While trying to make a tackle, he hit his head on one of his teammates (Akiem Hicks) and left the game on a cart. He was taken to a local hospital and released. He is currently in the NFL’s concussion protocol and it’s not known how much time he is going to miss. Hopefully it’s not much because it would be ashamed to see his budding career get off track. Plus, the Bears could really use him.
The Bears’ biggest acquisition in free agency this offseason was linebacker Danny Trevathan. Trevathan came to the team with a lot of thunder and lightning but ended up being quiet as a mouse. He still made plays but he finally had a big game against New York. Trevathan missed a little bit of time after injuring his thumb against the Eagles. He had surgery and came back in time for the game against the Colts. He has been steady ever since and is starting to look like the guy the Bears wanted when they picked him up in free agency.
Lamarr Houston was thought to be an important piece for the Bears at the linebacker position this season. Unfortunately, he was lost for the year after tearing his ACL against the Eagles. The Bears miss his ability to be a depth player who can step in and rush the passer.
Finally, Chicago has had the unfortunate dilemma of having two players suspended due to the use of PEDs. The first was Jeffery and then, just this week, it was discovered that star linebacker Jerrell Freeman was caught using an illegal substance. He will miss the next four games. Freeman has been the team’s best tackler and has been a standout in a standout group. The Bears will clearly miss him while he is out.
There have been two other linebackers placed on injured reserve this season. Lamin Barrow was placed on IR with a foot injury and Danny Mason is on the list as well.
Despite the fact this group has suffered so many injuries, they have been the most consistent and the most productive unit on the team. The depth here is outstanding and defensive coordinator Vic Fangio has these guys coached up well. This unit could have another injury and withstand that but it would hurt if they do.
When all the starters are in and playing, this is one of the best linebacker units in the NFL.
UPDATE: Linebacker Christian Jones has been out of practice with back and ankle issues. It is likely he will miss this Sunday’s game. Willie Young was also limited this week with a foot injury but will probably play this Sunday.