Mike Mulligan at the Chicago Tribune says that linebacker Shea McClellin doesn’t attack down hill the way that linebackers need to be able to do:
“[T]he interesting statistic is that game statisticians determined that only 15 of his 45 tackles [against the run] came versus runs of fewer than 4 yards. Ten of those 15 tackles were assists, many on short-yardage runs. But only five of his 44 solo tackles came on runs of fewer than 4 yards, including just one tackle for a loss.”
I found the title of this article to be amusing, “Bears can do better than Shea McClellin at inside linebacker”. They can do better virtually everywhere on defense where they are performing reasonably well despite a distinct lack of talent. Linebacker is definitely not an exception.
Neither McClellin nor Christian Jones has the instincts needed to react quickly to what the opponent is doing. And you can’t attack down hill if you are still moving laterally trying to diagnose what’s going on. Their deficiencies are the reason why fellow linebacker Jonathan Anderson has gotten more playing time. Anderson shows up in the backfield to tackle runners for a loss far more than either McClellin or Jones.
It is possible that both McClellin and Jones will develop the instincts needed to play the position given time. But as the season wears on and we don’t see improvement, it’s becoming hard to be patient. Like every other position, it’s going to be interesting to see what the Bears do at linebacker in the offseason.