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redeyechicago.com

No help for Cutler is just offensive

Dan McNeil

10:38 PM CDT, April 26, 2012

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There's no reason to barbecue Phil Emery after the new GM's first few hours in the Bears' war room. I have no interest, however, in standing in line with anybody desirous of tossing rose petals at his feet.

It sounds like Shea McClellin is a classic "tweener." Too small to be a full-time defensive end. Not a ferocious enough tackler to live up to the high standards set by Bears linebackers over the years.

Another project. At a time when the championship window is closing.

Maybe McClellin will be the perfect tonic for a Chicago pass rush that was spotty last season. Maybe the 6-3, 260-pounder from Caldwell, Idaho, and Julius Peppers will become the NFC's version of Dwight Freeney and Robert Mathis before the Colts went from a Super Bowl team to being first on the clock.

I'm open minded.

It just wears me out that Bears hierarchy, whomever is pulling the strings, doesn't accept that the NFL is, and has been, video game football. The road to the big game in early February is paved only by an offense that rolls up points so fast it makes your head spin.

I wanted a big guy Thursday night when Emery made the 19th selection in the first round, but I wanted one whose jersey number begins with a 6 or a 7. Stanford's David DeCastro, the highest rated guard in the draft, was still on the board. Iowa tackle Riley Reiff also was waiting to hear his name called.

But here in Smashmouth City, it looks like Lovie Smith got his wish. What happened to the rumor the war room was going to be smaller?

The Bears' defense can bring all the "woof woof" it wants in 2012, but if Jay Cutler spends ample time in a horizontal position again, it won't matter.

I hope McClellin is who Emery and Smith think he is. Meanwhile, those who have been driving the "Peppers has no help" charge are making me dizzy.

Yes, Peppers played on a bum knee much of last season. And he does have moments where he looks every bit deserving of the $42 million he was guaranteed in the contract he signed in March 2010.

Being the best pass rusher on the Bears, however, is a tall midget award. Has been since the '90s.

Peppers' loyalists, anchored zealously by my media brethren, point to his lack of "support" from the enigmatic Israel Idonije and other supporting cast members as reason for the disappearing act.

Ray Edwards, who was "Robin" to Jared Allen's "Batman" in Minnesota, signed a deal with Atlanta before the 2011 season. Allen led the NFL in sacks with 22 last year. Peppers has 19 in two seasons with the Bears.

I eagerly await more production from Peppers now that he has help. As I'm sure Cutler nervously awaits somebody to keep guys like that from scrambling his eggs for a fourth straight year.

Emery has two more chances Friday to find some help for what remains a very suspect offensive line. If the Bears can't keep their quarterback vertical, all the pass rush in the world is moot.

Teams that consistently win 13-10 don't play in the final game of the season.

Special contributor Dan McNeil hosts "The McNeil and Spiegel Show" weekdays from 9 a.m.-1 p.m. on WSCR-AM 670.