Wednesday, November 6, 2013
Stock Watch: McClellin breaks through
By Jeff Dickerson
Shea McClellin won NFC Defensive Player of the Week honors for his performance against the Packers.
1. Shea McClellin, DE: This came out of left field, but McClellin had the game of his life against the Green Bay Packers with 3.0 sacks, two tackles-for-loss and the hit that knocked Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers out of the contest with a fractured left collarbone. For one night, there was no talk about the Bears missing out on Chandler Jones in the 2012 NFL draft. Give McClellin, who was named NFC Defensive Player of the Week, some credit. Lesser players would have gone into the tank after such a sluggish and disappointing start to the season, but McClellin persevered. There is no guarantee that McClellin will ever have this type of performance again, but at least now he has the confidence that he can dominate a game from the defensive end position.
2. Julius Peppers, DE: This is what people expect from Julius Peppers. The veteran defensive end flashed his athleticism when he deflected a Seneca Wallace short pass in the air and grabbed the football with one hand to secure the interception. Later in the game, Peppers was credited with a sack, just his second of the year, and also had a tackle-for-loss and another pass defensed. Peppers seemed to be extremely active on the field and fired up on the sidelines. Peppers is a team captain. His teammates need to feed off his emotion. Valid questions have been raised this season about Peppers' motor, or lack thereof. But Peppers' motor was running on Monday night, and the hope is the perennial Pro Bowler still has plenty left in the tank for the second half of the season.
3. Josh McCown, QB: McCown will head back to the bench on Sunday if Jay Cutler returns from a torn groin muscle to face the Detroit Lions, but the veteran quarterback did his job. In fact, McCown totally exceeded expectations in both of his appearances, and really should have led the Bears to a pair of victories in relief of Cutler if not for a leaky defense in the Redskins' loss. McCown protected the football, something Cutler has been unable to do in his career versus the Packers, and passed for 272 yards and two touchdowns in the victory. This should end the debate of whether or not McCown is a viable No. 2 NFL quarterback. The Bears are lucky to have McCown, and who knows, maybe he earned himself another one-year deal from the Bears in the offseason.
1. Chris Conte, S: Conte seems to be taking bad angles to the football. He desperately needs a shot of confidence, like McClellin received in the 27-20 victory at Lambeau Field. Conte has talent, that is undeniable. Former general manager Jerry Angelo once remarked that Conte had the potential to be the most complete safety the Bears had drafted since 2001, and Angelo's assessment looked to be valid the past two seasons. But Conte is in a funk and the Bears need to find a way to snap him out of it. I wrote last week that maybe the Bears should consider inserting Craig Steltz or Anthony Walters into the mix at safety to push Conte. There is nothing wrong with competition, and I believe Conte would respond well to it. He just needs to break out of his slump.
2. Bears linebackers: We all know the Bears are dealing with injuries at linebacker -- Lance Briggs and D.J. Williams. And we also all know the Bears have been forced to start two rookies at the position in Jon Bostic and Khaseem Greene. So while the natural inclination is to cut the Bears a certain degree of slack, the linebackers overall did not have much success against the Packers. Green Bay rushed for 199 yards and two touchdowns on 29 attempts, numbers that would likely have been higher if Packers coach Mike McCarthy hadn't abandoned the run in the second half. Much of that is on the linebackers. Also, veteran James Anderson failed to catch a sure interception that would have resulted in a pick-six. Anderson is in the midst of a solid season and the future appears bright for Bostic and Greene, but Monday night was not their finest moment.
3. Dante Rosario, TE: The reserve tight end likely earned himself a spot in the special teams' doghouse when he missed his man and allowed Green Bay to block an Adam Podlesh punt in the third quarter. Rosario has been fine since the Bears acquired him from the Dallas Cowboys, but that's a costly mistake for a player on the bottom of the 53-man roster to make. A seven-year NFL veteran, Rosario committed an uncharacteristic gaffe, that luckily didn't cost the Bears the game. But it very well could have.