Originally written on Midway Illustrated  |  Last updated 11/14/14
  Chicago Bears fans are starting to catching on that rookie defensive end Shea McClellin is not an every down base DE.  So now Bears fans have it in mind that McClellin could be the eventual replacement for Brian Urlacher.  That talk was a part of the discussion prior to Urlacher's injury and has exploded into the pantheon of discussion with Urlacher's possible season-ending hamstring injury.   The problem is Shea McClellin is no more a middle linebacker than he is defensive end in a 4-3 defense.  McClellin is capable of decent zone drops, but he's not going to cover the deep middle in the Bears Cover-2 scheme.   What evidence do we have to support McClellin's inability to play the MIKE spot?  McClellin lacks the sideline to sideline range that a good middle linebacker should have.  McClellin is fast, but he does not move well laterally and it showed up when he tried to shadow Russell Wilson in the game against the Seattle Sehawks.   The Bears were smart to try and shadow Wilson with McClellin, because Wilson was beating the Bears with his ability to get outside the pocket and extend the play.  Time and again Wilson was able to make plays with his feet on the final drive of the game.   The answer was to try and use McClellin as a spy, and while it seemed to work for two plays there were to other more glaring plays that are cause for problems.    First the two "successful" plays McClellins drops back after mugging the line and then shadows Wilson, Wilson scans the field but never makes an attempt to break contain.   The next two plays are key plays on the drive that wind up with the Seahawks scoring the go-ahead touchdown late in the fourth quarter.   This first play as you can see McClellin mugs the line again and at the snap of the ball drops back to shadow Wilson again.  As McClellin is standing back in his small zone drop, Wilson breaks contain, but not before McClellin takes two false steps before reversing direction to give chase.  Precisely why McClellin decides take his two steps in the other direction, is a mystery, but as a result of these false steps, Wilson scrambles away and even with the angle of pursuit Wilson completes a 27-yard pass to set up first and goal for the Seahawks.   On the next play McClellin drops with Urlacher into linebacker zone coverage.  His zone drop away from the line of scrimmage is much slower than Urlacher's drop.  That the first thing I notice watching him in his back pedal.  He does maintain decent of the crossing receiver on the play.   Where the play goes wrong however is when Golden Tate catches a dump off pass and then somehow finds the end-zone.  McClellin has the proper, and even has the chance to square up directly on Tate to make the tackle to prevent him from getting into the end-zone.  Instead McClellin simply tries to lunge and shove Tate down.  Tate bounces off the effort and scrambles into the end-zone for the touchdown.   Now by no means am I trying to assign blame on McClellin for the Seahawks victory.  Wilson's success came against the Bears defense with both McClellin off the field and when he was on the field.  Wilson's best success came in the run game with the zone-read option that had both Julius Peppers and Israel Idonije breaking contain, and getting out for their gaps in pursuit of Lynch.  Both Peppers and Idonije played horribly in the run game and Wilson had success as a result. My immediate thoughts here are McClellin has limited range and open field ability as a linebacker.  He is a one-dimensional pass rusher first and foremost and a bit of a 3-4 edge setter as an OLB.  I don't see him with the ability to make plays in the run game unless it's between the tackles in a 5-yard box area.  Could he develop into a middle linebacker?  Maybe, if he worked at it for three years he could be a decent middle linebacker some day.  But in order to get to that point, he would have to develop some open field awareness, lateral ability in pursuit and be able to make tackles in the open field.  Being able to break down on a ball-carrier in the open field is a key skill for any linebacker to have, and at this stage of his career, McClellin doesn't have the open field ability necessary to replace Urlacher this year, or next year.
GET THE YARDBARKER APP:
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Floyd Mayweather, Manny Pacquiao close to deal for fight

TJ Lang: Suh wanted to fight me after stepping on Aaron Rodgers

Aaron Hernandez jurors allowed to watch Super Bowl

Tiger misses cut: ‘I’m only doing this so I won’t get fined’

Roger Goodell grilled on Deflategate during presser

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Rex Ryan: Seahawks need to ‘take the air out of the football’

J.J. Watt buys cabin in the middle of nowhere to train

Six teams have done background work on Peterson

NBA set to earn $700M through streaming deal in China

Wade Phillips is the best coordinator hire this offseason

Bill Belichick gives understated scouting report of Tom Brady

WATCH: Jimmy Butler throws down half-court alley-oop

President Obama zings Patriots over Deflate-gate

Each major conference's Player Of The Year candidates

Super Bowl XLIX preview and predictions: Patriots-Seahawks

49 Stops to Super Bowl XLIX

Most unexpected MLB free agent signings of past 10 years

Five most villainous Super Bowls of all time

Super Bowl ad focuses on acceptance of gay athletes

Foster says UT boosters paid him $40-50K while in college

Ranking the repeat Super Bowl champions

Eric Decker to Sherman: Time your conception a little better

Could Katy Perry and Russell Wilson be dating?

NFL News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
the YARDBARKER app
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

Obama zings Pats over Deflate-gate

Each major conference's POY candidates

Super Bowl XLIX preview and predictions: Patriots vs. Seahawks

The 13 things we want to see in Super Bowl XLIX

49 Stops to Super Bowl XLIX

Tiger Woods, misses cut: ‘I’m only doing this so I won’t get fined’

Ranking the repeat SB champions

Roger Goodell grilled on Deflategate

Katy Perry, Russell Wilson dating?

Rex Ryan has advice for Seahawks

Super Bowl: Things you can't control

LeBron and the Cavs are ready to make a run

Today's Best Stuff
For Bloggers

Join the Yardbarker Network for more promotion, traffic, and money.

Company Info
Help
What is Yardbarker?

Yardbarker is the largest network of sports blogs and pro athlete blogs on the web. This site is the hub of the Yardbarker Network, where our editors and algorithms curate the best sports content from our network and beyond.