Playing alongside Khalil Mack didn't magically jumpstart Leonard Floyd's statistical prowess, as the Chicago Bears edge rusher compiled a career-low four sacks last season.
The main issue for Floyd was health. While he didn't miss a game, he dealt with a hand injury that hindered his production. When healthy, the former first-round pick flashed the ability to take advantage of one-on-one blockers. The goal heading into 2019 is for Floyd to finally be a more consistent force off the edge.
New outside linebackers coach Ted Monachino believes Floyd "can be special" as he works on better counters to turn pressures into sacks.
"As he gets better at one or two things, his numbers will go up," Monachino said, via the Chicago Tribune. "(What) may happen first are the effective rushes, right? He may affect the quarterback. He may affect the launch point. He may move a guy off the spot. But the more of those that come along, the more productive rushes he's going to have. The more he's going to get home and finish. Right now we're focused on just a couple of things with Leonard. And it's not because he can't handle more. It's because we want to build his toolbox in a way that, 'This is my go-to, and this is the counter off of it.'"
Floyd believes he's making strides after two straight seasons with fewer than five sacks. He generated just 35 pressures last year, per Pro Football Focus, ranking 47th among edge defenders. Floyd believes those numbers can skyrocket now that he finally has a full, healthy offseason to work on his technique.
"Being violent and just going out with a mindset of getting to the quarterback," Floyd said. "I have to sharpen my tools. It's been very different because I have been able to train and do all of the things with no limitations this spring.
"I believe I was playing my best football during the second half of last year after I really got over my hand injury. I felt like I was playing a lot better and I am looking forward to this year and just building off of that."
The game film agrees with Floyd, as he flashed down the stretch last season, including a postseason sack. Now the Bears need their former first-round pick to finally break out and disrupt the QB for an entire year.
"If you put him in a phone booth against a big offensive tackle, yes, power and strength is a problem," Monachino said. "But his length and his explosiveness in a short space, they negate all of that other disadvantage. As a power rusher at the top of the pocket, I don't think he's going to have any problem. There are a couple things I believe in coaching pass rushers. Pass rush is about effort and violence. That's what it's about. It's all about how we finish at the top of the pocket. Because guys don't run around other players in this league. Players are too good. So we've got to get him really good at how is he going to clear? And how is he going to finish?"
If Floyd becomes a force opposite Mack, the Bears will be a menace to QBs. This offseason, Chicago picked up Floyd's fifth-year option for 2020, worth $13.22 million. They'll gladly pay that price if the edge rusher breaks out in 2019.