What should you make of Leonard Floyd’s 2017 season?

SHARE What should you make of Leonard Floyd’s 2017 season?

Leonard Floyd is out for the season. (Getty Images)

Adam L. Jahns’ “Inside the Huddle” column appears in game-day editions of the Chicago Sun-Times.

Search for outside linebacker Leonard Floyd’s sacks this season on the NFL’s Game Pass video system, and seven plays show up.

One is from the Bears’ 20-12 loss to the Saints in New Orleans, though it shouldn’t be.


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It’s the play in which Floyd jumped over fullback Zach Line in pursuit of quarterback Drew Brees. It was an impressive display of Floyd’s athleticism, and a sack was made.

But Floyd didn’t make it.

Defensive lineman Mitch Unrein did. He overpowered center Max Unger and forced him into Brees, who tripped. Floyd, who stumbled after his jump, was the first to touch Brees.

It’s an interesting play to point out because it’s kind of a faux highlight from Floyd’s shortened 2017 season. The sack that Floyd was initially credited with was rightfully shifted to Unrein’s game logs.

Floyd’s leap over Line was exciting, but what does it say when the Saints are OK with a fullback coming from the opposite side to handle Floyd one-on-one on a third-and-six play?

The Bears have a good player in Floyd, but the question is, how great will he be? It’s a standard that Floyd — who is on injured reserve with damaged ligaments in his right knee — should be held to because he’s a top-10 pick whom the Bears traded up to select.

While it’s good news that Floyd didn’t tear the anterior cruciate ligament in his knee —

and that he should have a full offseason for preparation — he still needed to play to develop. He’s still a work in progress, and the second half of the season would have benefitted him because of a slate of opponents with high sack rates.

Coach John Fox and defensive coordinator Vic Fangio think Floyd made strides in his second season, that his 4½ sacks in 10 games don’t really speak to his overall value.

“I thought Leonard was having a good season,” Fangio said. “He had decent sack numbers, but he had a lot of plays, too, where he ran down quarterbacks. We’ll miss that athleticism and speed where he tackled them after they ran for a yard or two or forced an errant throw. We’ll miss his athleticism and his overall speed.”

Floyd did force errant throws this season, but only one of his sacks is an example of where he “ran down” a quarterback.

It was his first this season, in Week 4 against the Packers in Green Bay. He disengaged with reserve lineman Justin McCray, chased quarterback Aaron Rodgers and sacked him right before he reached the line of scrimmage on a third-and-four play.

Floyd’s sack and safety against Vikings quarterback Sam Bradford also is a deceiving highlight. As ESPN analyst Jon Gruden said at the time, “that’s all Sam Bradford” for holding the ball too long in his own end zone on third-and-15.

Bradford also was more of a statue than he usually is because of a bothersome knee that eventually landed him on IR.

To be fair, Floyd’s versatility doesn’t always help his cause. Fangio often opted to drop him into coverage because he’s capable of handling tight ends, running backs and wide receivers better than other outside linebackers. He also improved against the run, displaying strength and tenacity on the edges.

“Losing a guy like Leonard can be problematic,” Fox said.

But Floyd was selected ninth overall to get after quarterbacks.

His 13 quarterback hits are a respectable amount, but his best sack arguably came in the Bears’ first preseason game against the Broncos.

Floyd beat right tackle Menelik Watson to the outside with speed and a rip move to take down now-benched quarterback Trevor Siemian.

You can search for that on the NFL’s Game Pass, too. It’s the first highlight.


@jorgeh7486: Why does everyone want to run out [general manager Ryan Pace] already? He inherited a roster that was full of third-string players. Do you feel Pace is [leading] the Bears in the right direction?

A: Pace deserves scrutiny because his team is 12-30 and several of his free-agent signings haven’t panned out. But, to use your phrasing, the McCaskey family is not going to run him out. Pace has been honest with ownership since his hiring. Can the Bears’ record be better? Sure. But Pace is running a rebuild. From the outset, he thought it would take three or four draft classes to truly retool his roster. Several of his picks can be considered foundation pieces: outside linebacker Leonard Floyd, nose tackle Eddie Goldman, center Cody Whitehair, safety Eddie Jackson and running backs Jordan Howard and Tarik Cohen. Safety Adrian Amos, tight end Adam Shaheen and linebacker Nick Kwiatkoski also have shown promise. But quarterback Mitch Trubisky is the most important player of Pace’s rebuild. Triubisky will define it. And he’s only six games into his development.

@QMHowell: How do you know the Bears players believe in Trubisky as a [quarterback] and aren’t simply being “good” teammates and just saying the right things?

A: That’s a good question. Players tend to light up when talking about Trubisky. Their eyes widen, and they smile. They often give examples of plays he made in practice or his highlights from games. Maybe I’m reading too much into their body language or their own stories about him, but all players seemingly give off positive vibes when they discuss him. They know Trubisky is a rookie who has much to learn. But he’s also very likable; he’s naturally charismatic. Players on both sides of the ball have gravitated toward him. Trubisky embraces everything that comes with being an NFL quarterback. At the very least, his teammates respect his approach.


Back in time

Before the Bears coveted quarterback Mitch Trubisky, it was Carson Wentz who held their heart’s desire. The North Dakota State product was their No. 1 quarterback in 2016.

“Very high opinion of him,” offensive coordinator Dowell Loggains said. “[He’s a] big guy, athletic, accurate, stands in the pocket. [He’s] not fazed by what’s going on around him.”

Wentz also is an example of why trading up to select a potential franchise-changing quarterback is absolutely worth the price.

In order to select Wentz second overall, the Eagles sent the Browns their eighth overall pick, third- and fourth-round picks, a first-round pick in 2017 and a second-rounder in 2018. The Browns sent back a fourth-rounder in 2016.

As it turned out, the Browns used those picks from the Eagles in five other trades. According to ESPN, here is what the Browns added as a result of the Wentz trade:

* Wide receiver Corey Coleman (No. 15, 2016)

* Offensive tackle Shon Coleman (No. 76, 2016)

* Quarterback Cody Kessler (No. 93, 2016)

* Wide receiver Ricardo Louis (No. 114, 2016)

* Safety Derrick Kindred (No. 129, 2016)

* Wide receiver Jordan Payton (No. 154, 2016)

* Offensive lineman Spencer Drango (No. 168, 2016)

* Safety Jabrill Peppers (No. 25, 2017)

* Quarterback DeShone Kizer (No. 52, 2017)

* The Texans’ first-round pick in 2018

* The Eagles’ second-round pick in 2018

Over time, the Browns might win the Wentz trade, but that might require turning the first-rounder they received from the Texans into a franchise quarterback.

Right now, the Browns should be haunted by their decision to pass on Wentz. In 10 games, Wentz has thrown for 2,430 yards, a league-best 25 touchdowns and only five interceptions. He’s in charge of the NFL’s best offense, and the Eagles are 9-1.

Local success story

More attention than usual should be paid to the kicking game this Sunday because the Bears switched to Cairo Santos after Connor Barth’s failures, but also because Eagles kicker Jake Elliott is a Chicago-area native that his hometown team missed on.

Elliott, a rookie who attended Lyons Township, became a cult hero in Philadelphia after making a 61-yard game-winning field goal to beat the Giants in Week 3. It was his second career game. The Eagles signed Elliott off the Bengals’ practice squad on Sept. 12. The Bengals selected Elliott in the fifth round after a record-setting career at Memphis.

The Bears coached against Elliott (5-9, 170 pounds) in the Senior Bowl, but they also had extra access to him. He also took part in the Bears’ local pro day.

Elliott missed most of the Eagles’ 37-9 win against the Cowboys last week because of a concussion, but he’s cleared for Sunday. He is 17-for-21 on field goals.

“He’s got a lot of pop in his leg for a guy who’s not the tallest player,” Bears special-teams coordinator Jeff Rodgers said. “He’s got good rise on the ball. His kickoffs have been good directionally. That wasn’t something that showed up on tape a bunch in college, so you work through guys. Maybe it’s not something they’re asking him to do.

“[But] he’s another guy with a full toolbox of things he can do. He was a guy we looked at, and he’s done well since he’s been in Philly.”

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