Twenty one games into his career, the defensive end has made little impact and all signs continue to point to him being a third down pass rusher only. With his hand on the ground he cannot set the edge and is a liability against the run game. He simply just may be to small to be a defensive end in the National Football League.
In three games this season, McClellin has recorded one tackle or less including a goose egg in Detroit where he played 70% of the snaps. That is an unacceptable number for any every down defensive lineman let alone a first round selection. He did have a great view of the back of Reggie Bush’s jersey and could definitely pick it out of a lineup of running backs who have sailed past him. The two weeks prior he combined on one tackle versus Minnesota and Pittsburgh.
We knew he was a specialty pass rusher with the hope he could turn into something more, but he isn’t even getting to the quarterback right now. With Julius Peppers commanding double teams he HAS to create pressure on passing downs and he isn’t even noticeable right now. So what we have is a third down pass rusher who can’t get to the Quarterback.
There’s a word for that and it’s a bust.
McClellin is performing at a slightly higher level than Gaines Adams right now. That’s a bit of an issue. People will say but @MidwayPat (people always address me by my twitter handles in real life) he had six tackles versus the saints. That’s progress! I suppose so, but two tackles would have been “progress”. One of those tackles came at the line of scrimmage. The rest were chasing from behind.
He did have his best game with his hands off the ground. The problem is the Bears play a 4-3 where he is supposed to be playing defensive end with his hand on the ground. In the middle of the season, Mel Tucker isn’t just going to change the defense into a 3-4. The normal solution would be to use McClellin like Mark Anderson in passing situations, but with the Henry Melton and Nate Collins injuries, Peppers or Corey Wootoon is going to have to move inside.
McClellin has to be out there right now and it creates problems on a defense that already has issues. Before he is branded a bust and shipped out some will wonder if an eventual move to a 3-4 could benefit him and this defense. But does the personnel really warrant a switch? They are not changing defenses just because of one underachieving first round pick. As much as Bears fans have been clamoring for it, I don’t see it happening.
The Bears will probably get creative and create hybrid defensive sets, but it’s still going to be based off a 4-3. In reality it’s time to stop wishing and hoping last year’s prize of the draft class will emerge because when it looks and feels like a bust, it’s usually a bust. Back to the drawing board for Phil Emery and company to fixing the defensive line. The Boise product was a swing and a miss.
On the bright side the Giants are in town and as Chris Gasper pointed out they are terrible. If you thought the Bears had issues getting to the QB just wait until these jamokes take the field. The G-Boys have allowed 36 points or more in every game so far. Most importantly they cannot keep Eli Manning upright which is just what this front four needs.
Even for one week the Giants should mask the Bears deficiencies, but after that this front four is still going to be a massive issue and guys off the street are not going to get it done. Right or wrong the focus is on McClellin. A guy who was drafted to be a difference maker is part of the problem. I hate to say it, but Emery landed his first bust.
Get ready for another shootout Bears fans, it’s going to be a wild ride the rest of the season.