Film Study: Leonard Floyd’s versatility on display in first start
Thoughts and observations after watching the film of the Bears’ 23-14 loss against the Texans in Week 1.
Focusing on Floyd
Rookie Leonard Floyd, a surprise starter, led all Bears outside linebackers with 60 snaps, which was 80 percent of the defense’s plays.
Defensive coordinator Vic Fangio won’t be available to the media to explain his use of Floyd until Thursday, but the best guess is that Floyd’s versatility in pass coverage was important to Fangio’s plans.
With his athleticism and speed, Floyd can do things on the field that Willie Young (48 snaps), Lamarr Houston (27) and Sam Acho (15) can’t, especially in coverage.
The Texans’ group of receivers — DeAndre Hopkins, Will Fuller and Braxton Miller — made for mismatches against the Bears’ young secondary.
Floyd dropped back often, frequently cutting off possible routes in the seam and manning the flats. At times, he lined up over Miller in the slot, impeding and slowing his route.
When Fuller beat cornerback Tracy Porter and made a huge drop late in the second quarter, Texans quarterback Brock Osweiler didn’t have to deal with a rush from Floyd. He was covering tight end Stephen Anderson over the middle.
“We got a fast, relentless team, guys that can do multiple things in any situations,” linebacker Jerrell Freeman said. “We got [outside linebackers] that can go out there and play seam/flat on some receivers.
“You see the young fella out there playing great.”
But sacks still matter most for Floyd. His takedown of Osweiler in the third quarter was his best play. He didn’t have a quick jump off the snap, but he fought through left tackle Chris Clark, reached the edge and quickly closed on Osweiler.
As Fangio predicted, there were moments when Floyd was overmatched. On Hopkins’ 23-yard touchdown catch in the second quarter, Floyd was stood up by Newton.
Play fakes negated Floyd’s speed at times, but he handled his run assignments well, which included squaring up with tight end C.J. Fiedorowicz. Floyd also was involved in six tackles, but he wasn’t on the field for Fuller’s 18-yard score on a tunnel screen.
“I feel good,” Floyd said. “But I’ve got some improvements to make.”
Plan for White?
Receiver Kevin White deserves to be scrutinized for his gaffe that led to quarterback Jay Cutler’s interception.
But it’s fair to wonder what the plan was for White in his first game. The Bears didn’t attempt one quick screen for him. Not only were such screens a staple of the offense last year, but they would be a good fit for White’s athletic makeup.
Fuller’s 18-yard score for the Texans on a tunnel screen is a good example of what can happen.
White’s only catch before garbage time came on a crossing route for a five-yard gain on a third-and-six play in the first quarter.
The Bears ran screen plays for running back Jeremy Langford (negated by a penalty) and tight end Zach Miller.
Texans defensive coordinator Romeo Crennel threw everything at rookie center Cody Whitehair and the offensive line.
As usual, Crennel was creative with blitzing defensive backs and linebacker stunts. He used his versatile personnel, starting with end J.J. Watt and Jadeveon Clowney and outside linebacker Whitney Mercilus, all over the line of scrimmage.
But the Bears’ line held strong for most of three quarters. They allowed two sacks in that time span. One came when the Texans sent five rushers and Mercilus beat right tackle Bobby Massie. But the second was the result of Cutler scrambling out of bounds.
The Texans’ pass rush took over when the Bears fell behind by nine points in the fourth quarter.
Where was Young?
The Bears’ pass rush was disappointing overall. Young, in particular, had a quiet game. He didn’t register one tackle or quarterback hit, according to press-box statisticians.