Can Pernell McPhee Step it Up in 2017?

CHICAGO, IL - DECEMBER 18: Pernell McPhee
CHICAGO, IL - DECEMBER 18: Pernell McPhee /

I am a big fan of Pernell McPhee and have been for a while.  When I found out that Chicago had signed him as a free agent I was excited.  He was sure to have a big impact on their defense and give them the leadership and ability they needed.  But so far, he hasn’t been the player they thought he would be. Now he’s on the shelf following knee surgery. Is he a bust?

CHICAGO, IL – NOVEMBER 27: Pernell McPhee
CHICAGO, IL – NOVEMBER 27: Pernell McPhee /

The Bears brought Pernell McPhee in as a free agent from the Baltimore Ravens back in 2015.  He was with Baltimore for four years and showed a lot of potential as a pass rusher.  He had put up some nice sack numbers and had remained relatively healthy during his time in there.  That persuaded General Manager Ryan Pace to grab him and bring him to Chicago as well as pay him a lot of money.

McPhee’s first season in Chicago was inconsistent.  He went in and out of games with injuries but still managed to get six sacks.  The Bears, along with their fans, hoped that McPhee would step it up in 2016 and be a force.  But during the offseason, he had arthroscopic surgery on his left knee.  While the procedure seemed to be minor, in the long term, it appeared as if it was more than a simple knee scope.

He ended up starting the season on the physically unable to perform list and didn’t return to the lineup until week seven.  He managed to get four sacks but looked shaky.  This writer went to the Bears/Titans game in November and witnessed McPhee limping on his left leg heavily after a couple of plays.  He still wasn’t right.

Chicago Bears
Chicago Bears /

Chicago Bears

McPhee went through surgery this past offseason, on his labrum, and lost 25 pounds.  Losing that weight will not only make him lighter and faster but will also make him healthier.  But now, as training camp opens, we find him on the physically unable to perform list for a second straight season.  Even worse, he had a “minor” knee procedure which will put him out for a while.  How long?  We don’t know.

We can hope that McPhee can get off the PUP list and recovers from this new knee surgery as soon as possible.  If he can get back to the form he had in Baltimore, he could be a real asset to the Bears.  But it’s looking more like he may not get back to his old form.  You might hear him labeled as a bust too.

I have written a lot about McPhee and how he can have a huge impact on defense in Chicago if he can just get out onto the field.  And he needs to be out on the field on a regular basis.  He needs to be out there so the opposing offenses must game plan around him.  Just his being on the field can alter an offensive game plan.  If they have to commit more help to block McPhee that will allow someone like Leonard Floyd to have a better shot at getting to the quarterback.

Next: Pernell McPhee a surprise addition to the PUP

His presence on the field is a must.  The Bears hoped that McPhee would be a disruptive player who could help put pressure on opposing quarterbacks.  He hasn’t been able to do that consistently because he can’t stay on the field.  If for some reason he can’t play a full season or must play limited snaps, the Bears will get a little something positive out of him, but it will not be enough.  If he misses any games or can’t play the entire season, then, unfortunately, you should consider him a bust.