After three weeks of stagnation for Leonard Floyd, weeks four and five were a “rebirth” which saw him start to perform at an elite level. Hopefully, his performance against the Vikings is a sign of the new norm.
The Chicago Bears’ pass rush has been profiled many times over by many different writers. They have had a stagnant pass rush for most of the season but just recently “woke up” in their game against the Vikings. Now, we hope that they can keep the pass rush going consistently and get to opposing quarterbacks more often.
One of the key players in all of this is outside linebacker Leonard Floyd, who is into his second season with the Bears. He is finally starting to display some of the pass rushing acumen that the coaching staff had hoped he could bring when they drafted him in the first round of the 2016 NFL Draft.
Floyd came in with some lofty expectations not only being a first rounder but also being the clear object of the Bears draft wishes because they traded up to get him. He had to shine because the Bears could have done other things with that pick and may not have had to give up extra picks to get him. Would he be worth the cost?
Perhaps they didn’t need to move up to get Floyd but the deal was done, and there wasn’t much anyone could do about it.
The onus was on Floyd to deliver. In his first season with the Bears, he missed some time with injuries but still managed to get seven sacks in 12 games. His 33 tackles (23 of them solo) helped contribute to a budding defense that made that unit a promising one heading into this season.
But injuries and turnovers on offense have caused the development of the defense to stunt a bit. They are not playing as well as they could be and it’s affecting everyone including Floyd.
Despite this, he needs to step up and play better and he has done that over the last two games. He played well against Green Bay and Minnesota then took a step back against the Ravens and basically almost didn’t show up.
While Floyd has taken some solid steps forward he needs to keep improving. He can do that with good health by the others around him, including Pernell McPhee; he will shine if that happens. We certainly hope he can.
We certainly hope he can.
So how can Floyd help the Bears? He can help by continuing to be a playmaker. His two sacks and a safety against the Vikings on Monday night are signs that he has a lot of potential. But his disappearing act against the Ravens is also a problem. Can he continue to play like he did against the Vikings or will we see him play like he did against the Ravens?
Hopefully, it’s the former. Floyd has the desire and the drive to play better and he wants to improve. And he can improve and help improve the Bears defense.
So where does this leave the Bears and Floyd? Instead of running hot one game and cold the next he needs to step it up in every game and play as well as he did against Minnesota. Floyd needs to be a difference maker on defense for the Bears. While there are other playmakers on defense that can step up and do good things, Floyd is the key.
From his position, Floyd can do a lot of damage either getting to the quarterback getting him down or by making plays in the backfield against the run to help stop the ball carrier quickly.
The biggest attribute that Floyd has is his speed. He is one of the quickest, perhaps the quickest, defenders on the team and he can fly to the ball. If he can just use speed and power to work past blockers he can get to the quarterback and the running back in the backfield before the play can develop.
Playing like that would be big for Chicago’s defense.
Hopefully, Floyd can add to his three sacks, 19 tackles and one pass defended through six games season. If he can, they will play better on defense and beat teams like Cleveland and San Francisco. You may think that one player may not be able to make a big difference but a key sack or a key stop on a third-down play can be big.
Floyd can do this. Look for him to be a difference in the remaining games and get more sacks then he got last year. He could get ten sacks this season and may even make the Pro Bowl.
That’s not out of the question.
So, Bears’ fans, keep a close eye on Leonard Floyd. He’s bound to make a big impact this season and become of Chicago’s top defenders.
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