A year ago, outside linebacker Pernell McPhee sat in the media room at Halas Hall and offered a description of himself that he lived up to on the field.
“I’m violent,” he said. “That’s all you need, is to be violent.”
It was a great sound bite, the first of many from McPhee last year. The best thing for the Bears is that McPhee lived up to his words. When McPhee said beating Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers involved only one thing — to “hit his ass,” as he put it — that’s what the Bears did in a victory on Thanksgiving night.
The Bears’ defense had a different edge to it in 2015, and McPhee’s brash ways were a main reason why.
Now, linebacker Danny Trevathan enters the picture. Trevathan has the same agent as McPhee, as well as the same energy and demeanor.
“He’s a monster,” Trevathan said Thursday at Halas Hall. “Every time he’s putting his hands on somebody, it’s a train wreck. That’s similar to my style.”
You could call Trevathan a mini-McPhee in a sense, but that would involve labeling Trevathan as small. And the 6-1, 240-pounder doesn’t like that perception at all.
Trevathan is a sixth-round pick from Kentucky who led the Broncos in tackles during their Super Bowl seasons in 2013 and 2015.
“[Size is] an issue for everybody else — not for me,” Trevathan said. “I believe it’s the fight. They say I’m undersized, but I’m not. Seriously, I like that people keep saying it about me.”
Trevathan’s fight was evident when he required reconstructive knee surgery in January 2015 after enduring two knee fractures and a dislocated kneecap in a four-month span in the 2014 season. He appeared in only three games that year and thought the worst.
“When I had my injury, I thought it was over for me, but at the same time, I wanted to get back,” he said. “I fell back in love with [the game], and I don’t want that love to ever leave.”
Is he the same player?
“I’m hungrier,” Trevathan said.
That’s exactly what the Bears want to hear. It puts him right in line with the “dog” mentality that McPhee so often talks about.
If Trevathan has an impact similar to McPhee’s last season, then the Bears’ front office will deserve kudos for its modest but targeted approach to free agency.
From a financial standpoint, the Bears worked some magic. They’re committing less to McPhee ($7.75 million annual average) and Trevathan ($6.125 million) combined on a yearly basis than the Jaguars are to defensive end Malik Jackson, their prized free agent. Jackson has a yearly average of $15 million over the first three years of his six-year contract.
That’s thrifty work by the Bears.
Pace will build the Bears through the draft, but Trevathan and McPhee are undoubtedly core pieces. They are Super Bowl winners who are entering the prime of their careers.
“I see a lot of hustle, attitude, and I see a lot of ambition in these guys,” said Trevathan, who turns 26 on March 24. “That’s stuff you can work with, and I feel I fit in great with this defense. I know some faces around here. I’ve met some of the guys. I feel like these guys are ready to push it to the next level. My job is to do whatever I need to do to help them get over that.”
It’s what McPhee started to do last season.
“To have somebody like [McPhee] in front of you, and playing with my attitude, I think it could be spectacular with the things we do,” Trevathan said. “Hopefully, our attitude covers all the defense, just starts getting contagious — like winning.”
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