Here’s how Chicago Bears put Leonard Floyd in position to end sack drought

November 12, 2018

Leonard Floyd’s long national nightmare is over.

The No. 9 overall selection in the 2016 NFL draft recorded his first full sack in 385 days Sunday in the Bears’ dominant victory over the Detroit Lions.

“I wanted it, but I wasn’t going to force it,” Floyd explained after the game. “I was just going to come out, play great technique and whatever happened, happened.”

What happened: Floyd beat Lions RT Rick Wagner with a devastating spin move early in the fourth quarter before bear-hugging Matthew Stafford, a curious technique which Floyd hilariously explained to us in the locker room afterward.

“It’s been so long since I held a quarterback, I just wanted to hold him a little longer than normal,” he said with a big smile.

And Floyd almost got to hold Stafford on the previous defensive series, when he again rushed off the left defensive edge but looped around Wagner’s inside shoulder on a line game to pressure Stafford on a third-and-5 incompletion. Vic Fangio, who called a very effective game including an uptick in blitzes, sent Roquan Smith as Chicago’s fifth rusher on the play.

Floyd, though, was the beneficiary of more than an increase in blitzes, line games and one-on-one blocking matchups with Khalil Mack back in the fold. He also rushed almost exclusively from the strong side of the ‘D’ where Mack generally aligns.

“It depends on whoever wants that side,” Floyd told us. “We’ll call it. I want the left side this week. Or the right side this week.

“I had a pretty good game last year going against 71 [Wagner]. So I wanted to come out and go against him today.”

Floyd didn’t record a sack vs. Wagner’s Lions last year in Week 11 but did tally a tackle for loss and two QB hits on Stafford. Of course, last season he rushed regularly off the left edge of a defense that lacked the depth and overall disruptiveness on the flanks that this year’s group boasts.

“Just understanding the situation,” said Khalil Mack when we asked him about the strategy switch. “Just playing to our abilities and knowing we can both go each way — it don’t matter who it is.”

Neither Mack nor Floyd would say it, but we have to think that getting Floyd matched against Wagner, who allowed two sacks Sunday after getting dominated for 3 ½ by Danielle Hunter a week earlier, not only mattered but was the impetus for the decision. And if that’s the case, consider it yet another example of one of this Bears team’s defining characteristics — players being put in optimal positions to succeed.

After all, it was Fangio who wasn’t shy about increasing the onus on Floyd during his chat with the media last week.

“He’s got to be more decisive earlier in his rushes,” Fangio said. “He’s got to use his speed and athleticism and get some advantages earlier than he’s getting.”

Floyd had two QB hits and zero sacks in his first eight games before tallying three and one, respectively, Sunday. We recently highlighted how Floyd was playing a more rounded game this season, even if the splash plays had yet to come. Sunday, all the parts of Floyd’s game converged.

″[When] everything in the rush works together, people get sacks,” he said. “Today everything in the rush worked together and I finally got a sack.”

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