Film Study: Bears continue to feature OLB Leonard Floyd in coverage
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Thoughts and observations after watching film of the Bears’ 23-17 overtime victory against the Steelers in Week 3:
Looking at Leonard
Outside linebacker Leonard Floyd was credited with an assisted tackle Sunday. That’s it. He didn’t have a solo tackle or a hit on quarterback Ben Roethlisberger.
But Floyd’s value extends beyond the box score. He doesn’t have a sack this season, but that doesn’t mean he has been ineffective. Defensive coordinator Vic Fangio is putting Floyd’s versatile talents to good use.
Much like in Week 1 against the Falcons, Floyd often was featured in coverage against the Steelers’ talented array of pass-catchers: running back Le’Veon Bell and receivers Antonio Brown, Martavis Bryant and Ju-Ju Smith-Schuster.
Floyd dropped into coverage 11 times, including four times in the fourth quarter, and was exposed only once. Smith-Schuster beat Floyd to the outside early in the fourth, turning a five-yard completion into a 25-yard gain.
As for rushing Roethlisberger, Floyd was sent inside on stunts at times. He also was lined up inside in an upright position at times.
Floyd’s best shot at Roethlisberger came in the second quarter, when he came inside of Willie Young on a stunt. Roethlisberger evaded Floyd by sliding to his right.
Floyd is by far the Bears’ best outside linebacker in coverage because of his combination of speed, size and athleticism. Using Floyd in coverage allows Fangio to disguise what he uses from week to week, depending on matchups.
That showed up against the Steelers. Floyd dropped into the right flat when nickel back Bryce Callahan blitzed off the left edge, sacked Roethlisberger and forced a fumble.
When Young sacked Roethlisberger to end regulation, Floyd was double-teamed by right tackle Chris Hubbard and guard David DeCastro. The Bears only rushed three on that play.
‘‘By no means is [Floyd] off to a slow start,’’ coach John Fox said. ‘‘He’s very disruptive. I think our opponents and people that look at him on tape understand that.’’
Tough in the trenches
To slow down Bell, Fangio wanted his defensive linemen to hold their gaps longer and be patient. Bell, of course, is known for his patient, unorthodox style of running.
In the end, it was job well done. Bell struggled to get going all game. His longest run (13 yards) came on a first-and-20 draw play in the fourth quarter.
Akiem Hicks was involved in four tackles of Bell, and Eddie Goldman and Jonathan Bullard had two each.
Receivers step up
The Bears receivers’ impact on the running game shouldn’t be overlooked. They made blocks that helped spring long runs by Jordan Howard and Tarik Cohen.
Just watch the Bears’ three runs in overtime. Josh Bellamy sealed off cornerback Joe Haden to open Cohen’s cutback on his 36-yard run, then handled safety J.J. Wilcox on Howard’s 18-yard run.
Deonte Thompson eliminated cornerback Artie Burns on Howard’s game-ending 19-yard touchdown run, though he definitely was close to holding.
Follow me on Twitter @adamjahns.