Hopes are high for Leonard Floyd this year. Then again it seems that is the case every year. His athletic potential is impossible to question. There are times the outside linebacker can look downright unstoppable. Yet there’s always something wrong. Most of the time it’s health issues be they concussions, a torn ACL, or a broken hand. Not to mention frustrating lack of consistency as well.
Everybody can see how close the kid is to becoming one of the dynamic pass rushers in the league. For whatever reason the football gods seem to conspire against him. However, his finish to the 2018 season offered signs of hope. He was harassing opposing quarterbacks with far more regularity and had a sack in the playoff loss to Philadelphia.
This has led some to think that 2019 may finally be his coming out party. He’s healthy, confident, and in top physical shape. Also, his contract is coming up which should only offer more motivation to play well. There is one more thing. Willie McGinest, three-time Super Bowl champion and former Pro Bowler for New England, thinks he has another advantage.
Chuck Pagano will create more looks for Leonard Floyd
McGinest believes that coaching can often be an overlooked but crucial part of making successful pass rushers. He would know this. Not until the Patriots shifted to a 4-3 in 1996 did his own career take off. In Floyd’s case, he believes the departure of Vic Fangio may actually be a blessing in disguise. Not because the former was bad for him, but because his replacement Chuck Pagano might be perfect for him.
“With a healthy offseason to work on technique and the addition of Chuck Pagano as defensive coordinator, Floyd is poised for a breakout campaign in his fourth pro season. New outside linebackers coach Ted Monachino recently told the Chicago Tribune that Floyd “can be special” as he works on better counter techniques to turn pressures into sacks. Pagano’s defense also features a number of blitz packages that allow linebackers and safeties to pressure the QB, and Floyd should face one-on-one opportunities due to the talent around him (Akiem Hicks and sack artist Khalil Mack).”
Pagano does have a history of getting the best out of pass rushers. He got 14 sacks out of Terrell Suggs in 2011, then 19.5 out of Robert Mathis in 2013, and 11 from Erik Walden in 2016. There is no reason to think he can work similar magic with Floyd. His aggressive style calls for creative ways to attack the quarterback. The outside linebacker is known for his athletic versatility, so it’s a perfect marriage.