Chicago Bears linebacker Pernell McPhee was a recent recipient of the Ed Block Courage Award, but even upon his acceptance, his mind strayed to football.
ESPN’s Jeff Dickerson, Patrick Finley of the Chicago Sun-Times, Pro Football Weekly’s Kevin Fishbain, and the Chicago Tribune’s Dan Wiederer caught up with McPhee here, here, here, and here prior to McPhee’s appearance at Maryville Academy in Des Plaines, and he had a whole lot to say.
Notably, McPhee touched on missing former Bears quarterback Jay Cutler, feeling primed for a breakout year in 2017, and … his night time eating habits.
McPhee couldn’t make assurances that he would be ready for OTAs, which start on May 22, but noted he has lost weight for a second consecutive offseason. This prompted the linebacker who is listed at 6-3, 273 lbs on the Bears’ official web site to describe himself as “sexier” as he prepares for the 2017.
McPhee, who says he has lost 25 pounds since training camp in 2016, added it was important to shed some pounds and feel the positive, associated vibes as soon as he wakes up and starts walking around. His secret to weight loss? “Don’t eat after 7 o’clock at night. Just pound yourself with water,” McPhee said. “That’s the only way I did it.”
Seems like some sound advice. [Michael: Psh … easier said than done]
McPhee is a key cog for the Bears’ defense, but needs to be on the field to be the kind of “dangerous” player he wants to be. He racked up five sacks in his first eight games with the Bears, but has only five in 15 games since. In other words, injuries have taken their toll on McPhee, whose 2016 season ended with shoulder surgery and 2015 season ended with knee problems. Altogether, McPhee has missed nine games in the last two seasons.
When healthy, McPhee has been one of the Bears’ best players and one of the NFL’s highest-graded edge defenders. Indeed, he earned an 87.9 grade from Pro Football Focus in 2015, which landed him in the ‘High Quality’ range on the site’s grading scale – which is on the verge of their coveted ‘Elite’ status. However, he took a step back in 2016 with a 74.9 grade that puts him in the ‘Average’ range. He will be 29 in December, and ESPN’s Jeff Dickerson reports that McPhee currently has the highest cap number ($7.285 million) among Bears defenders in 2017. If he can stay on the field, it’s likely he has a few more prime years of production left in the tank.
While the Bears aren’t necessarily in the market for an outside linebacker, injuries and advanced age should be considerations when pondering the future of the position.
There were 25 games missed at the position in 2016 between McPhee (7 games), Lamarr Houston (14 games), and Leonard Floyd (4 games). But barring a game-changing move on draft weekend, odds are the Bears will go into 2017 with the same mix as it did in in 2016.
McPhee was the first major free agent signing for General Manager Ryan Pace, who plucked him off the Baltimore Ravens and gave him an increased role in Chicago. Two injury-riddled seasons later, and a trimmer McPhee has eyes on completing a healthy and productive season in 2017.
The Bears could use it.