After defensive coordinator Vic Fangio arrived in Chicago, it didn't take him long to start endorsing Shea McClellin as the quarterback of his defense. When asked in May about which players he inherited that could be considered building blocks, McClellin was one of two players that he named, the other being Kyle Fuller.
Fangio, in May: "He has good size (6-foot-3, 260 pounds)," Fangio said. "He has good athletic ability. He has been hindered, I think, by being moved around — to no fault of anybody's. That's just the way it goes. He has a chance to be a good inside linebacker."
"He has good instincts," Fangio said. "He can run. He could be a good blitzer from in there. Just a little bit of everything."
After McClellin missed only three games with a sprained MCL, Fangio called the inside linebacker a "stud", saying that lesser players would have missed a lot more time than Shea. Even John Fox has endorsed Shea McClellin for his leadership, communication skills, and someone who "a lot of guys lean on".
As recently as last week, Fangio stated that McClellin has 'big play' ability, and still feels that he is the long-term answer to inside linebacker, which, by the way, is the fourth position Shea has played in four seasons with the Bears.
"At times we have seen [play-making ability]. I think he'll keep growing and growing and eventually be that player," Fangio said last Wednesday at Halas Hall. "It's a new position and the Mike linebacker is a very hard position to adapt to and learn — particularly [after spending] most of his career up on the ball. I think he's done well overall."
So what do the numbers tell us? We took a deep dive into McClellin's performance this season thanks to Pro Football Focus' Premium Stats, and have a week-by-week overview below.
Interestingly enough, linebacker Christian Jones was criticized for having deteriorating performances this season, and was subsequently a healthy scratch this week versus the Minnesota Vikings. But at least by PFF's grading scale, it looks like McClellin has had quite the slide the last few weeks as well.
For a side-by-side comparison, here's a snapshot of Jones' grades this season:
It' will be interesting to see what, if anything at all, Vic Fangio has to say about Shea this week. He had a pretty bad game versus the Vikings:
- Shea McClellin (-2.4) had a career-high 3 missed tackles. He was targeted 6 times in coverage, allowing 6 catches for 79 yards and 2 touchdowns.
Is McClellin truly the long-term answer for the Bears at any linebacker position? Is it fair to judge him in his first season in a new position? Or is Fangio just completely wrong about Shea as a Bears linebacker?