Ryan Pace has taken a lot of heat for not adding another pass rusher to complement Leonard Floyd. But if Floyd is who Pace once thought, the Bears will be just fine. The Bears need the Georgia product to realize his potential. In two years Floyd has struggled to stay on the field and has just 11.5 sacks. The bigger problem? He hasn’t been able to get pressure consistently.
Amongst the Bears regular edge rushers, Floyd actually had the one of the worst rates at getting to the quarterback. According to the NFL’s official statistics (NFL GSIS), Floyd managed 12 hits on opposing quarterbacks, the third highest total on the team, but he played significantly more snaps than any of the other edge rushers.
- Sam Acho was actually second on the team with 18 hits in 251 pass rush snaps (snap counts per Pro Football Focus).
- Pernell McPhee hit opposing quarterbacks 11 times in 197 snaps.
- Willie Young had four QB hits in 67 snaps.
Breaking it down further, Floyd hit the quarterback once every 23 snaps, while Acho did so every 14 snaps, Young did every 17 snaps and McPhee did every 18 snaps.
Floyd got more attention from opposing offenses, so nobody should confuse those totals with ability. Nobody was doubling or chipping any of the other three players, so it’s probably still accurate to say the Floyd was the team’s best pass rusher. But the Bears still need him to be better. He didn’t get more attention than Chandler Jones who led the league with 33 QB hits (one every 18.5 snaps) or DeMarcus Lawrence (26, one per 17.5). That’s the level the Bears need Floyd to reach. That’s a fair expectation for a player taken so high.
If Acho can repeat his 2017 production, the Bears could be just fine opposite Floyd. While he wasn’t near the league leaders, Acho had as many QB hits as Chris Long, Elvis Dumervil and Myles Garrett, with only Long playing fewer snaps. Aaron Lynch didn’t get much of a chance with San Francisco last year, but he did manage five QB hits in 96 snaps. The Bears still need more impact plays from Acho for him to be considered a solid starter — he had just three sacks and two tackles for loss —but they can survive with him.
They also will get interior rush from Akiem Hicks — 20 QB hits last year and 17 in 2017 — and should get production from the team’s second- and third-tier rushers. There’s also a chance a player like Roy Robertson-Harris (4 QB hits in 82 snaps), breaks through.
None of that will really matter if Floyd doesn’t begin producing at a higher level.
Ever since the Bears hired Vic Fangio the comparisons to his San Francisco defenses have been made. Perhaps the biggest difference between the two units is that the 49ers’ top rusher — Aldon Smith — had no issue taking opposing quarterbacks down. Floyd has that kind of potential and if he realizes it next year, the Bears will have one of the truly elite defenses in the league.