McPhee coming on strong for Chicago Bears

  • Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Alex Smith is sacked by Chicago Bears linebacker Pernell McPhee (92) during the first half of Sunday's game in Kansas City, Mo.

    Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Alex Smith is sacked by Chicago Bears linebacker Pernell McPhee (92) during the first half of Sunday's game in Kansas City, Mo. Associated Press

Updated 10/14/2015 7:38 PM

Whether he wants to accept the title or not, Pernell McPhee has become the Chicago Bears' defensive leader after just five games.

"Naaahhhhh, I leave that to Coach Fox," the 26-year-old McPhee said when asked if he has filled the void left by players like Brian Urlacher, Lance Briggs and Charles Tillman. "I just come do my job, man, and a lot of guys follow and some don't. But, nah. I'm (gonna) be me.


"If that's a leader or just somebody who everybody likes to listen to and follow, I'm (gonna) be me."

McPhee leads the Bears with 4 tackles for loss and 7 quarterback pressures, he's tied for the team lead with 3 sacks, and he's fourth with 32 tackles.

Pressed on the leadership role, McPhee said it's simple, but not necessarily easy.

"It's hard work," he said. "When you put in the hard work, automatically you're a leader. And when you do everything you need to do and be on time, you're a leader. That's the best way I can explain it.

"I come to work on time. I do everything I have to do. I practice hard. And guys see that and they're either going to do it or not."

McPhee's blocked field goal in Week 5 was a key play in the 18-17 victory at Kansas City, which sends the Bears into Detroit at 2-3 against the winless Lions.

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Lions head coach Jim Caldwell knows what to expect from McPhee, who was in the midst of his four-year stay in Baltimore when Caldwell was the Ravens' quarterbacks coach in 2012 and their offensive coordinator in 2013.

"We certainly know McPhee, and we know how tough and hard-nosed he is," Caldwell said. "He's got that kind of (leadership) presence, there's no question about that. He loves to play the game, and I certainly could see that."

Having grown up in the Ravens' 3-4 scheme, the 6-foot-3, 275-pound McPhee had little trouble adjusting to the 3-4 scheme that defensive coordinator Vic Fangio introduced in the off-season for the first time in Bears history. McPhee's play-making has been noticeable from as far back as the preseason and seems to be increasing.

"He's just been playing good and physical," Fangio said Wednesday. "He's playing tough. He's got emotional energy to him."


The blocked field goal was the first of McPhee's five-year career. A week earlier, against the Oakland Raiders, he had the first interception of his career. The week before that, he had 2 sacks of Russell Wilson against the Seattle Seahawks.

"He played physical against the run, which is up his alley," Fangio said after McPhee had a team-high 9 tackles in the victory over the Raiders. "He did a good job in pass rush for the most part. He just the played the way he's capable of playing and what we thought we'd get when we signed him."

That five-year, $38.75 million deal last off-season already looks like one of the best free-agent acquisitions in team history.

Before he signed with Detroit, Haloti Ngata was McPhee's teammate for four years in Baltimore. The Lions' 6-4, 345-pound defensive tackle is not surprised that McPhee has blossomed in a more expanded role with the Bears.

"I knew was going to be a great player," Ngata said. "He's very strong, athletic, fast for how big he is. It's pretty cool to see how well he's been doing.

"He's going to do whatever it takes to get a win. He's hard-nosed. He's a great person."

McPhee doesn't do a lot of talking, but he gets teammates to follow his lead by example and by his production.

"Anybody's going to respond to someone dominating the game," Ngata said. "When he starts making plays and getting the defense excited, the defense can't help but have a positive reaction to what he does."

• Follow Bob's Bears and NFL reports on Twitter @BobLeGere.


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