Film Study: Pernell McPhee gets his chance to shake off rust

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Bears OLB Leonard Floyd sacks Packers QB Aaron Rodgers. (Getty)

Thoughts and observations after watching the film of the Bears’ 26-10 loss against the Packers in Week 7.

McPhee matters

When it came to Pernell McPhee’s snaps in Green Bay, the outside linebacker said the Bears “were playing it by ear.”

It was the first game he could play in after starting the season on the physically unable-to-perform list following his slow return from left-knee surgery in February.

“That was our date that we set going to camp and after camp,” McPhee said. “I’m back. And that’s the best thing right now.”

McPhee was on the field 19 plays, according to the game report. It included one penalized play, a false start by right tackle Bryan Bulaga, who was facing McPhee.

The longest stretch McPhee had was a six-play run during the Packers’ first possession of the second half.

“Coach did a great job of getting me going,” McPhee said “And I know he just wanted to knock some rust off me.”

McPhee was on the field during key moments.

During the Packers’ fourth-down attempt on the goal line in the first quarter, McPhee set the edge against left tackle David Bakhtiari. It helped force receiver-turned-running back Ty Montgomery inside into a bevy of Bears tacklers for the stop.

McPhee also was part of a three-man rush in final 30 seconds of the first half, when the Bears held the Packers to a field goal.

It was apparent that McPhee — who lined up on both edges, but not once inside — still has work to do. His get-off didn’t look the same as last season.

Press-box statisticians didn’t mark McPhee down for anything. He also wasn’t on the field when outside linebacker Leonard Floyd made his two sacks.

But McPhee’s last three plays were encouraging. He stayed after Rodgers and hit him on a play-action play that resulted in a check-down completion; he ripped inside Bakhtiari on a quick pass; and he assisted on his first tackle, running down Randall Cobb after going unblocked on the backside on a three-yard gain.

“The biggest key was just first contact,” McPhee said. “It had been nine to 10 months. After that first contact, I got a little sting [in my shoulder], and I was like, ‘Ah, [expletive]. It’s ain’t my knee. I’m good.’ ”

Focus on Floyd

Floyd’s two sacks were the result of his development and effort, but it also showed how he can be used in twists and stunts.

On his second-quarter sack, Floyd broke inside of Bakhtiari, while left guard Lane Taylor and center JC Tretter initially engaged Akiem Hicks.

Jonathan Bullard, meanwhile, raced around Hicks and Floyd, essentially creating a new right edge. Floyd reached Rodgers with a solid second effort from his knees.

On Floyd’s sack-strip-and-score in the third quarter, he lined up between outside linebacker Willie Young and Hicks and over right guard Don Barclay.

Floyd looped around Young’s pressure, which impeded Barclay. Rodgers ducked Young’s sack attempt, before Floyd collapsed the pocket from behind for his highlight-reel play.

While some players struggled with the short week, Floyd looked fresh after sitting out two games with a calf injury. His best play arguably came in the first quarter when he contained Rodgers during a play-action rollout.

He didn’t sack Rodgers, but he wasn’t embarrassed, either. He forced Rodgers into a wild incompletion.

Missing Jeffery

Receiver Alshon Jeffery’s stat line looked awful. He had three catches for 33 yards despite being targeted 11 times. But it’s misleading.

There were misses by Brian Hoyer and Matt Barkley, but also plays made the Packers’ defense.

Outside linebacker Julius Peppers deflected a short throw on a screen play for Jeffery. Defensive tackle Mike Pennell batted a pass toward him, too.

Jeffery also was the intended receiver on the play that resulted in Hoyer’s broken left arm.

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