Chicago Bears: Leonard Floyd must break out in 2019

Chicago Bears (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Chicago Bears (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images) /

Leonard Floyd is due for a major 2019, for both his own sake and for the sake of the Chicago Bears franchise.

Edge Leonard Floyd was taken with the ninth overall selection in the 2016 NFL draft by the Chicago Bears out of the University of Georgia. A skinny but lightning quick pass rusher, Floyd was set to become the first major piece of the new Monsters of the Midway defense. In his rookie season, he recorded an extremely promising 7 sacks in only twelve games. Floyd’s rookie year saw a variety of injuries from calf strains to head and neck injuries.

In his sophomore season in the NFL, Floyd appeared in only ten games compliments of an MCL and PCL sprain. As a consequence, Floyd recorded only 4.5 sacks and focused on rehabbing and getting his health completely under control.

In 2018, Floyd began the majority of the early part of the season with a club on his hand but did not let it deter him from missing any time. In his first complete season, Floyd recorded his lowest sack total yet at only 4, despite the presence of elite pass rusher Khalil Mack. Although Floyd played the whole season, the lingering injuries held him to such low totals.

To this point, the former top-ten pick’s career has been injury-riddled, preventing him from showing what he can do when completely healthy. Bears fans know his ceiling is extremely high, and he has certainly shown flashes of this, but in 2019 Floyd must break out.

With a full sixteen games under his belt with no major injuries, there is now no excuse for Floyd to be anything but what he was drafted to be- an elite pass rusher. There is no reason why Floyd cannot do so, as he recorded 7 sacks in his rookie season with almost no other great pass rushers on the defense in 2016.

With names on the defense today such as Khalil Mack, Akiem Hicks, Danny Trevathan, Roquan Smith, and Eddie Goldman, Floyd should see almost all single-team coverage and be able to exploit weaker matchups with ease. Another factor which should lead to an increase in production is the new defensive scheme under Chuck Pagano, a blitz-heavy defensive play caller.

The Bears exercised Floyd’s fifth year option this earlier month, signifying the team would like to have him onboard for the 2020 NFL season. Although this is not a contract year for the 26-year-old linebacker, this season will very likely decide if the Bears will extend him next summer and if he is going to be a major piece of this young and promising defense going forward.

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What would a successful season look like for Floyd? Certainly an increase in his career high of seven sacks is feasible, and possibly even double-digit sacks. In addition, look for Floyd to improve in coverage and in his run defense. He is certainly capable of doing all of these things, it is only a matter of health and motivation to be the best he can.