New Bears linebacker Pernell McPhee: ‘I’m violent’

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Bears OLB Pernell McPhee is introduced at Halas Hall. (Adam Jahns/Sun-Times Media)

If new Bears’ defensive weapon Pernell McPhee were scouting himself, his positives would start with his method of operation.

“I’m violent,” McPhee said Wednesday at Halas Hall, “and that’s all you need, to be violent.”

McPhee’s introduction may be overshadowed by his new team’s public commitment to quarterback Jay Cutler. But general manager Ryan Pace and coach John Fox firmly believe that they signed a big to the puzzle that is fixing a defense after the two worst seasons in franchise history.

McPhee is viewed as a base outside linebacker in the Bears’ new 3-4 scheme, but also as a versatile player who can play inside on the defensive line in sub packages.

“First of all, he’s disruptive, he hits the quarterback a ton,” Pace said. “I think he’s an ascending player. Like he said, I like the violence that he plays with. He’s got length, gets off blocks.

“He’s a well-rounded player, too. He’s a productive pass rusher, but also a steady, consistent run defender. Those are some of the things that jump out.”

McPhee wouldn’t say whether the Baltimore Ravens made a push to keep him after his breakout season of 7.5 sacks, 24 quarterbacks hits and 11 tackles for loss in limited playing time in 2014. He just believes what Fox and defensive coordinator Vic Fangio have in store for him. Fox compared him to Hall of Famer Michael Strahan.

“[McPhee] does it with really good technique, really good hands, good leverage,” Fox said. “ He plays with good lean and he pushes the pocket very, very well.”

McPhee’s playing time is set to dramatically increase. He didn’t start a game the past two seasons, spending time behind Ravens stalwarts Terrell Suggs and Elvis Dumervil. McPhee played less than half of the Ravens’ defensive snaps in 2014.

“Playing with those guys was a great experience,” McPhee said. “They kept me humble, kept me focused, and even though I wasn’t a starter, they treated me just like I was a starter, like I was a big dog.”

The Bears envision more sacks with more snaps. And it better happen. McPhee signed a five-year contract worth $16 million guaranteed.

“We just evaluate the talent,” Pace said, “and when he plays, he’s productive and he’s disruptive.”

McPhee said the difference in his production last year was his health. Past knee, shoulder and groin injuries are no longer an issue.

“Yeah, they’re awesome right now,” said McPhee, who played at 285 pounds last season. “God done touched them.”

McPhee knows several Bears players, including Willie Young and Lamarr Houston, who also will play linebacker in their 3-4 defense. But the most exciting aspect is still trying to reestablish the Bears’ defensive tradition. He knows the Bears’ history, naming Brian Urlacher, Lance Briggs, Julius Peppers, Mike Ditka and even William “Refrigerator” Perry.

“[Defense is] what they’re known for, and hopefully, we can bring some of that intensity back,” he said. “Like I said, [a] violent-playing defense.”


Twitter: @adamjahns

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