The Bears’ 20-19 win over the Jacksonville Jaguars was marked by improved play by linebackers Jonathan Bostic and McClellin, according to coach Marc Trestman after his review of film. The overall is a significant positive for the defense in general, but it also could be setting up a scenario that wasn’t necessarily there going into this offseason, when McClellin was shifted to linebacker from defensive end.
The competition within the position group back in the beginning was among Bostic, McClellin and D.J. Williams for two jobs: middle and strong-side linebacker. Now, with McClellin. Bostic may be playing his way out of one job and into three in addition to the No. 1 nickel linebacker role he has secured.
McClellin has played primarily at strong-side linebacker in the Bears’ base 4-3 defense, while Bostic has played all three linebacker positions. That versatility is creating a nice “problem” for the Bears and may be resolving the linebacker competition in a way that utilizes both Bostic and McClellin.
“I think it’s tough [to slot Bostic] because of his flexibility,” said coach Marc Trestman. “I think that he played well last night. He was excellent inside running to the football. He was physical….
“I think that he plays middle very well, but we’ve got to be in a position if we lose somebody that he can move into either position and so we’ll continue to do that, but ‘Mike’ linebacker is certainly a place that he excels at and he needs to be able to play the nickel as well. We think he can handle it and we’re going to continue to work him in all those areas.”