Bears' Leonard Floyd undergoes surgery on fractured hand, but might play in Week 1
Floyd, the Bears' only good pass-rushing outside linebacker, might be forced to play with a cast
The Chicago Bears decided to enter the upcoming season with one good pass-rushing outside linebacker on their roster, and now that pass-rushing outside linebacker is recovering from a fractured hand that required surgery, which has placed his availability for Week 1 in doubt.
On Monday, Bears coach Matt Nagy told reporters that 2016 first-round pick Leonard Floyd fractured his hand during the team's Saturday preseason game against the Broncos and underwent surgery to repair that hand on Sunday. That's the bad news. The good news is that Nagy is optimistic that Floyd will be able to play Week 1, when the Bears travel to Green Bay for a date with their most hated rival, the Packers.
The Bears should be thankful that the injury wasn't more serious, but it's still tough to spin this situation as a positive. While the Bears have been talked about as 2018's version of the 2017 Rams -- in that they have a talented second-year quarterback, a new offensive-minded coach, and better weapons around that quarterback -- they're lacking something the Rams have: Aaron Donald.
The Bears do have talented players on their defense in Akiem Hicks, Eddie Goldman, Kyle Fuller, Adrian Amos, Eddie Jackson, and so on, but their pass rush is a serious area of concern in the same way that wide receiver was an area of concern for them last year. Floyd is their best pass-rushing linebacker by a long shot, and even he was a bit of a question mark heading into the season given his injury history and inconsistencies as a player.
Over the past two seasons, he's played in 22 games. In those 22 games, he's tallied 11.5 sacks. 2018 is supposed to be the year Floyd makes the leap from promising to great, but a broken hand could seriously affect his ability to do that considering hands are very important to football players and pass rushers in particular.
Oh, and it sounds like he's going to be forced to play with a cast.
"I don't think it's going to be healed," Nagy said, per the team's website. "I think he's going to have to end up playing through it. It might require something in regards to having a cast or a club-type deal. There's been evidence of guys that have had that and been productive, and that's what we're hoping right now."
In addition to Floyd, the Bears' outside linebacking group includes guys like Aaron Lynch and Sam Acho. So if Floyd does miss some regular-season action and/or the injury affects his productivity, the Bears will need to find creative ways to generate pressure. Hicks, who plays on the defensive line, might be the best player on the defense, and he knows how to get after the quarterback, having notched 15.5 sacks over the past two seasons. Goldman is a very good interior defensive lineman, but he's not a big-time sack producer. Young defensive end Jonathan Bullard hasn't produced much since entering the league with Floyd in 2016.
Since arriving in Chicago in 2015, defensive coordinator Vic Fangio has often excelled atWith or without Floyd, Fangio will need to find a way to manufacture pressure. It's the Bears' biggest weakness. And it's probably going to be the thing that prevents them from making the jump from bad to playoff good.
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