Adam L. Jahns’ “Read Options” column appears in Pro Football Weekly, which is available Thursday or Friday in the Chicago Sun-Times, Daily Herald, Rockford Register Star, Northwest Herald, Kankakee Daily Journal, Peoria Journal Star and on ProFootballWeekly.com.
With the Bears in need of an extra positive or two, rookie outside linebacker Leonard Floyd played a starring role in prime-time.
Floyd was a thorn in Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers’ behind. He made two sacks and forced a fumble by Rodgers that he recovered in the end zone for the Bears’ lone touchdown.
The question now is whether Floyd can keep it up. He didn’t do that after sacking Texans quarterback Brock Osweiler in the season opener. He doesn’t have to have two-sack games every week, but he can’t be rendered ineffective for another multi-game stretch.
Floyd said he felt more confident as a player after sacking Rodgers. Coach John Fox thought so, too. That confidence, though, needs to turns into more consistency.
“It’s huge,” Fox said. “It’s hard to have confidence when good things don’t happen, so obviously when good things happen, your confidence gets a little higher.
“With a guy like Leonard, who’s as young as he is and has been in and out as much as he has, that was a huge boost.”
Floyd’s breakout game also was a result of defensive coordinator Vic Fangio’s better understanding of him.
Fangio often talks about having to learn what his players do best, and Floyd’s spate of minor injuries since training camp made that difficult. He just missed two games with a strained calf.
Against the Packers, Floyd was featured in twists and stunts. On his sack-strip, Floyd lined up over the right guard before racing around outside linebacker Willie Young, who was over the right tackle.
Floyd’s handwork and power moves have improved, but his speed still is what makes him valuable. Fangio tapped into that in Green Bay against Rodgers, who can be very elusive.
“Obviously you’re trying to build your team speed,” Fox said. “Your team speed is critical, really, in all three phases. With Leonard, that was a big part of the evaluation, whether it’s as a spy rusher or just a guy that can track a good athlete down. He has that ability.”
General manager Ryan Pace needed Floyd’s big game, too. With receiver Kevin White sidelined by another serious surgery, all eyes are on Floyd’s development.
Pace will be patient with his two first-round picks, but Floyd’s performance silenced some outside criticism, even though much of it was — and is — unwarranted at this point.
But even Fox acknowledged how important it was for one of the franchise’s first-round picks to do something. There are only four of them on the roster: Floyd, White, cornerback Kyle Fuller and right guard Kyle Long.
White (surgery for broken left fibula) and Fuller (arthroscopic knee surgery in the preseason) are on injured reserve. Long was removed in the second quarter against the Packers because of a strained triceps.
“We don’t have a lot of first-round picks on our roster right now,” Fox said. “A few of them are missing.”
The Bears’ competition at running back will be in full swing this week with Jeremy Langford returning from his high-ankle sprain.
In Langford’s absence, rookie Jordan Howard took off, but recently his struggles have opened the door for Ka’Deem Carey.
The Bears don’t mind taking a hot-hand approach, but they would still like one to emerge as the lead back.