Through the first four weeks of the 2016 regular season, the Chicago Bears pass rush had accumulated just 7.0 total sacks, or 1.75 per game.
Yet the Bears ramped up the pressure the past month, tallying 14 sacks the past four contests, or 3.5 sacks per game. That includes five-sack performances against the Indianapolis Colts in Week 5 and the Minnesota Vikings last week.
In each of the last four games, the Bears have had at least one player with 2.0 or more sacks, which includes first-round rookie Leonard Floyd, who had 2.0 sacks against the Green Bay Packers in Week 7 and another against the Vikings in Week 8.
Floyd's recent surge in production, as well as the return of veteran edge rusher Pernell McPhee, has given the Bears pass rush a major lift. Chicago's 20 team sacks are currently tied for 12th most in the league, as are Willie Young's team-high 6.0 sacks.
According to Football Outsiders (FO), the Bears are creating pressure on 16.6 percent of opposing drop backs, which is 15th best in the league and rising. Chicago's defensive line also ranks 11th in the NFL in Adjust Sack Rate at 6.7 percent, per FO.
To get a better feel for how Floyd and McPhee have impacted the pass rush the past two weeks, I broke down game film from the Packers and Vikings contests. Here's what I found.
Our first snap will highlight Floyd's sack against the Vikings. Floyd (blue) will rush off the left side of the offense. LT Jake Long will square him up one-on-one. Take note of Akiem Hicks (red) lined up B gap right.
At the point of contact, Floyd extends his inside arm to create separation and puts Long on his heels. In the middle, Hicks has already begun driving G Brandon Fusco into the backfield.
Hicks gets in QB Sam Bradford's face, which forces the quarterback to toward the opposite hash. On the blindside, Floyd uses an inside swim move to collapse the pocket.
As Bradford turns away from Hicks, he runs right into Floyd, who drives the quarterback into the turf.
On this snap, McPhee will be rushing off the right edge.
RT T.J. Clemmings locks up McPhee just inside of the right hash.
McPhee powers through the point of contract, using his inside arm to rip up and through Clemmings, who cannot stop McPhee from turning the corner.
McPhee leaves Clemmings in his wake and forces the hurried throw from Bradford, which falls incomplete. This play is an example of the pure power McPhee brings to the defense. He did nothing more here than fight through a block using strength and a rip move, and he nearly picked up a sack.
Here is McPhee again matched up 1-on-1 with Clemmings off right side.
Here is the contact point, with Clemmings shifting his weight backward to keep McPhee from turning the corner. Notice Fusco looking back to see if he needs to help.
McPhee uses his inside arm to drive Clemmings past the pocket -- another display of pure power.
With Clemmings out of his way, McPhee crashes the pocket. Fusco tries to help but he can't slow down the locomotive.
As Bradford tries to release the ball, McPhee dives through the air and clobbers the Vikings quarterback, never allowing him to follow through on the pass.
The ball flies out of Bradford's hand and lands near the numbers. Hicks is there but for some reason, he chooses not jump on the pigskin.
Cornelius Washington (orange) tries to get Hicks' attention, pointing frantically toward the ball. Hicks still doesn't make a play on the ball and Washington is given a personal foul penalty for coming on the field.
Floyd comes all the way from the back side of the play and nearly recovers the fumble, yet the ball bounces into the arms of Vikings WR Adam Thielen.
On this snap, Floyd will rush off the left side against Packers LT David Bakhtiari.
Floyd pushes up the outside but then quickly cuts inside using a lightning fast swim move.
Floyd leaves Bakhtiari in his wake but G Taylor Lane slides in front of him and delivers a shot to the rookie's chest, knocking him off his feet.
Floyd hits the ground momentarily but ...
... he's back on his feet in a split second and he takes QB Aaron Rodgers down for the sack.
This is Floyd's sack-strip-touchdown play against the Packers. He's lined up B-gap right in a two-point stance, with OLB Willie Young to his right. Floyd and Young will execute a cross stunt, with Floyd swinging outside.
Floyd works into G T.J. Lang's chest but then plants his inside foot.
Young crashes inside, occupying both the RG and the RT. This gives Floyd a clear path to the quarterback.
RT Bryan Bulaga is able to sprint back and get a hand on Floyd, pushing him past the pocket. This gives Young an open path to Rodgers, who is bracing for the hit.
Rodgers somehow eludes Young, who goes tumbling through the pocket. Floyd plants his back foot and dives over both Young and Lang.
Floyd lands on Rodgers' back, rips him to the ground and the ball pops out.
Floyd immediately gets to his feet, finds the ball and corrals it in the end zone for the touchdown. It doesn't get any more impressive, and effective, than this.
Our last snap is a run stop by Floyd, who is lined up across from Vikings TE Kyle Rudolph. Notice Floyd's body positioning, with his hips sunk and coiled for contact. Technique and leverage can often mask a player's lack of ideal upper-body strength.
As Asiata receives the handoff, notice Floyd has driven his hands into Rudolph's chest and under his shoulder pads. He then extends his arms to create separation.
Floyd throws Rudolph inside and disengages from the block, all while shifting his body weight toward the sideline.
Floyd uses his elite burst to cut off the corner and takes Asiata down after a 1-yard gain. And you thought he couldn't defend the run.
With McPhee, it's nothing but brute strength. He can power through arm blocks and double teams, using momentum and explosiveness to muscle past blockers. It's a skill set no other edge rusher on this team possesses, one that can be extremely dangerous for opposing quarterbacks.
Alternatively, Floyd uses a unique blend of quickness, burst, speed, elusiveness and sheer athleticism to beat blockers.
Both of Floyd's sacks against the Packers were things of beauty, showing off his movement, power and all-day hustle, as well as his leaping ability. He's still very raw and very early in his career but if Floyd stays healthy and continues to develop, there won't be anyone calling him a first-round bust.null