The Khalil Mack Effect is Starting to Pay Off For Leonard Floyd

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The Khalil Mack Effect is Starting to Pay Off For Leonard Floyd

Analysis and Commentary

It appears as if the Chicago Bears have been doing some defensive shifting, which has allowed one of its slumping players to break out of it in recent weeks.

Leonard Floyd’s production is on the rise in his last five games. Floyd has 15 tackles, four tackles-for-loss, five quarterback hits, two sacks, and a pick-six during this stretch of games. Extrapolate those numbers over 16 games and we’d be looking at a player with six sacks and 13 tackles-for-loss. Those aren’t great, but it’s an upgrade from what Floyd would have been on pace for after his first seven games (0 sacks, 0 tackles-for-loss). Whenever the tide shifts on a player, my gut instinct is to try and figure out why, and I believe ESPN’s Matt Bowen has provided a clue.

In this clip, Bowen draws up how the Bears defense can take away some of the Rams’ big-play productivity with this coverage (coupled with a solid pass-rush) that has essentially been their calling-card all year. Watch it closely, now:

Did you see it? If not, let’s highlight it for you:

Leonard Floyd is positioned above the right tackle, a spot normally manned by Khalil Mack, who you’ll note is lined up above the left tackle in this screen grab.

Floyd has seen some more defensive snaps in this position in recent weeks and I can’t help but think there is a correlation between his improved play and a position swap. Because while this doesn’t appear to be a big deal on the surface, you’d be surprised about how much of a difference something small like this can make. Remember, this was Floyd’s position in the first two years of his career before Mack showed up. It’s would be understandable if this position is the one he feels more comfortable playing. And if this small tweak turns out to be the thing that unlocks Floyd, then watch out!

Earlier in the week, Bears Outside Linebackers Coach Brandon Staley told the Chicago Tribune that Mack has had his hands in helping Floyd this season. Staley talked about Floyd stringing together good practices, fine-tuning his craft, and building a chemistry with Mack. As it turns out, Mack’s biggest contribution to Floyd’s development might be his own selflessness and willingness to go to the other side of the ball, where he gets to wreck left tackles like this:

You knew Mack’s excellence was going to take this defense to another level. But what we didn’t know was that his versatility would help raise the play of others around him. And even though the chatter surrounding Mack’s chances at winning the NFL’s MVP award has subsided, it is growing more clear with each snap that he is the Bears’ most valuable player.


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Luis Medina

Luis is the Lead Writer at Bleacher Nation Bears, and you can find him on Twitter at @lcm1986.