The Chicago Bears drafted outside linebacker Leonard Floyd two years ago with hopes that he would be able to bolster their stagnant pass rush. With one season under his belt, the Bears are looking for him to break out in 2017 and provide them with a dominant pass rush. Can Floyd live up to their expectations?
If there is one thing the Chicago Bears are known for, it’s good defense. They had the best defense in the history of the NFL back in 1985 winning 15 games plus the Super Bowl because of it. Their defense got them to the Super Bowl again in 2006, but they fell short of a victory. They haven’t been back to the big game since.
After struggling on defense since the departure of former head coach Lovie Smith, the Bears cleaned house. They brought in Vic Fangio in hopes that he could help improve their defense and he has been able to do some good with what he has got.
In the first round of the 2016 NFL Draft, Chicago drafted a guy out of Georgia who they thought could be their next great pass rusher. Despite the fact he was somewhat skinny, the Bears felt that Leonard Floyd could develop into a strong and dominant pass rusher. Their idea is that he would complement Pernell McPhee and give them one of the best pass-rushing duos in the NFL.
Floyd’s first season in the league was both good and bad. It was good in the sense that, when he was capable, he could flash some signs of brilliance on the field. But the “bad” came when he was injured, which he was often. It’s well known that he had issues with concussions last season. That, coupled with injuries to his calf, kept him out periodically.
There has been a lot of discussion about Floyd and his concussions. Recently, some things came to light suggesting that Floyd struggled to recover from the concussions that he suffered. There are those that feel that he may be one more concussion away from never playing football again. Let’s hope that doesn’t happen.
Aside from the concussion issues, he has had some problems with other injuries. During training camp last year he had trouble staying healthy and drew the ire of his defensive coordinator. Floyd did step it up, but his health caused him problems again. Healthy concerns were his biggest issue last season.
Despite the injuries, Floyd, statistically, had a good season. He racked up seven sacks in his limited playing time and for a first-year player that isn’t too bad. He was quick to the quarterback, thanks to his speed, and opponents slowly started to realize that they had to game plan around him. But with no one opposite him to take some of the pressure off, he was stymied for a better part of the time.
Floyd’s numbers could have been better had Pernell McPhee been healthier and much more effective last season. With a consistent pass rusher opposite him, Floyd can excel in 2017. Couple that with better health and the Bears could be seeing the further development of a future Pro Bowler. We hope that’s the case.
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With all of the hard luck that the Bears have had in the past few seasons, it would be nice if something positive started to happen with their first round draft picks. Remember that General Manager Ryan Pace’s luck with first rounders (see Kevin White) hasn’t been too great. Yet. Hopefully, Floyd will be able to prove Pace’s prowess at drafting first round players, and he can step up to be a star.
If any single Bears’ player, on defense, is going to have a breakout year, it could easily be Floyd. He has the tools to be better. If he can get the support around him that he needs, and if he can stay healthy, he could have a breakout season.
The sky is the limit for Floyd.
I admit that I was concerned about Floyd when they drafted him with the first overall pick. I had not heard much about him, and he seemed a little small for his position. After a rocky training camp, I thought that my worst fears had been realized. I felt he was a bust. But he pulled through and had a decent rookie campaign. Now if he can just follow it up with an even stronger second season then Pace and Bears’ fans can breathe easier.
The Bears may have found a real gem with Floyd. With good health, I predict he will have a great season and help make Chicago’s defense one of the NFL’s best.