Leading up to the Bears Week 4 matchup against the Green Bay Packers, we discovered that Leonard Floyd’s 39.5 overall grade from Pro Football Focus ranked 95th among 117 qualifying edge rushers and his 37.1 grade as a pass rusher ranked dead last.
Indeed, Floyd was held without a sack through the first three games of the 2017 season, which was concerning for a Chicago Bears defense in search of an identity, let alone some production from its pass rush.
Since then, however, Floyd has turned the heat way up, and just like his 2016 season, where a Thursday Night Football performance against the Packers put him on the path to success, Floyd’s run of success began with a sack of Aaron Rodgers.
Now, in his last four games, Floyd has rattled off four sacks, six quarterback hits, 12 tackles, and a safety. His grade from PFF has shot up to 68.7, which isn’t necessarily where it should be, but still a significant improvement from where he was after three weeks.
And in reality, the Bears’ pass rush has improved across the board in recent weeks, with the team’s best showing (arguably) coming in their Week 7 win over the Carolina Panthers. In fact, no defense pounced on an opposing quarterback more than the Bears’ 21 pressures on Sunday, according to PFF. Floyd, in particular, came up with seven hurries and posted an impressive 18.9 pass rush productivity grade for his efforts.
His most important work might have come in this sequence:
1) See where Leonard Floyd is lined up
2) Watch him engage & shed RT
3) Beats an interior lineman too
4) Runs down Cam Newton
— The Ten-Yard Line (@TheTenYardLine) October 24, 2017
With the Bears protecting a 17-3 lead to start the fourth quarter, Floyd unleashed a spectacular display of grit, determination, athleticism, and pursuit in stopping Cam Newton for a minimum gain. It wasn’t a sack, but damn if he wasn’t ever-so-close to picking one up there. Floyd engages and sheds a first lineman, recognizes what’s happening with Newton in the backfield and beats another lineman in pursuit of the quarterback, then runs down Newton – a freak athlete with impressive size, strength, and speed – and holds him to a 1-yard gain.
Quarterback Mitch Trubisky might have all the popularity points, but it’s the Bears defense doing much of the heavy lifting. Floyd said the Bears were trying to change the culture after the team picked up a second straight win for the first time since 2015. Bringing back a rugged defense led by ferocious pass rushers like Floyd is one way of doing it.