Bears outside linebacker Leonard Floyd's success will be defined by how many sacks he records each year. Maybe it's unfair to judge Floyd based on one statistic, but considering Chicago's draft investment in him (ninth overall pick in 2016), sacks -- and a lot of them -- were the expectation.
Floyd's most productive season as a pass rusher came in his rookie year when he totaled 7.5 sacks. He's managed just 8.5, total, over the last two years (26 total games). It's been more of the same from him in 2019, as he has just three sacks entering Week 15's game against the Packers.
The Bears picked up Floyd's fifth-year option last offseason, which means his cap number will jump from just over $5 million this season to more than $13 million in 2020. It's a hefty price to pay for a player who doesn't get to the quarterback, but linebackers coach Ted Monachino said this week that no player on Chicago's roster can do what Floyd does for the defense.
“There’s only one guy in our building that can do the job that Leonard is asked to do, and that’s Leonard Floyd,” Monachino said. “He’s playing at as high a level as I’ve ever had a ‘Sam’ [linebacker] play. I couldn’t ask any more of him.
“He wears a lot of hats throughout the game. He’s in coverage in base. He’s in coverage in sub. He’s a rusher in base. He’s a rusher in sub. He does it all for us. I do wish for him, and I think it would help all of us if he got some sacks, and we didn’t have to answer the same question once a month. But I do believe he’s playing at as high a level as any ‘Sam’ in our league.”
Monachino's assessment of Floyd's game is certainly fair, but it still doesn't change the fact that he hasn't become the kind of player the Bears were envisioning back in 2016. He was supposed to be John Fox and Vic Fangio's 'Von Miller.'
Instead, Floyd's Pro Football Focus pass-rushing grade ranks 89th among edge defenders in 2019.
The Bears have the option of rescinding Floyd's fifth-year option this offseason, and with Chicago's tight salary-cap situation, it's a choice they may be forced to make.
But Floyd has a chance to make a strong final impression on GM Ryan Pace over the final three games of this season, and with the Packers up next, there's a chance he'll do just that. Of his 18 career sacks, 7.5 have come against Green Bay.
"I feel great in the position I’m in," Floyd said this week. "I’m playing for a great organization. I got a lot more left in me.”
The Bears need Floyd to be their 'Von Miller' on Sunday, and for the rest of the season, to turn their near-impossible quest for the playoffs into reality.Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of the Bears.