What’s going on with the Rams’ expensive outside linebacker?
It was barely more than a year ago that we wrote about how Rams linebacker Micah Kiser missed seven tackles in a Week 1 win over the Dallas Cowboys. Kiser eventually cleaned up that act and only missed three tackles over his next eight starts, but he also gave way to be replaced by Troy Reeder, was cut after training camp this year, and on Wednesday was picked up by the Broncos.
But what would LA do with Leonard Floyd, their $64 million linebacker, if he had a tackling issue?
Floyd started every game last season and finished with 55 tackles, 19 QB hits, and 10.5 sacks, and according to the advanced stats, also missed five tackles. His 8.3% rate of missed tackles would not be a concern. The worst offenders at linebacker in missed tackle rate in 2020 would have been A.J. Klein of the Bills at 18.5% (75 made tackles, 17 missed tackles), Kevin Pierre-Louis of WFT at 17.6% (56 made, 12 missed), or Houston’s Brennan Scarlett at 17.6% (28 made, six missed).
Ravens rookie Patrick Queen led the NFL with 21 missed tackles and had a missed rate of 16.5% last season. Queen had two missed tackles in Baltimore’s Week 2 win over the Chiefs.
Now what should we think of the idea that Floyd has already missed six tackles in 2021?
According to SportRadar’s numbers, Floyd is tied for the NFL lead with six missed tackles through two games, alongside Kansas City safety Daniel Sorensen and 49ers linebacker Azeez Al-Shaair. Both of those players have more made tackles than Floyd and therefore he has the highest rate of missed tackles in the NFL so far.
By the numbers, Floyd had four missed tackles in Week 1’s win over the Bears and two more in Week 2’s win over the Colts. This isn’t a stat, but I recall at least one missed sack when Floyd whiffed up and over Carson Wentz.
Leonard Floyd should have 18 sacks today but he does not.
— TurfShowTimes (@TurfShowTimes) September 19, 2021
Floyd did notch his first sack of the season in Indianapolis, stopping a fourth-and-Goal play, but really the issue there was the fact that the Colts were without starting right tackle Braden Smith and nobody decided to block Floyd on the play.
THATS HOW YOU OPEN UP A GAME ON DEFENSE, LEONARD FLOYD ON THE SACK pic.twitter.com/uJfv0YnGZt
— LA Rams Nation (@RamsNationCP) September 19, 2021
All told, Floyd was credited with five pressures against the Colts, blitzing six times, and recording six tackles with two additional QB hits. But for a player who just signed a four-year, $64 million contract to stay with the Rams, what sort of expectations should LA be expecting Floyd to live up to?
Last season, Floyd did have 10.5 sacks and 30 pressures, but he posted seven of those sacks against two teams (two games against the Seahawks, one against the Bears) and he had either one or zero pressures in nine of 16 contests. Floyd only had two games since 2018 with multiple missed tackle, missing two in a 24-16 loss to the 49ers in 2020 and two in a win over the 49ers (when he was in Chicago) in 2018, but now he apparently already has two this season.
And he hasn’t even played the 49ers yet.
A year ago, Kiser started off with an extreme number of missed tackles and then it didn’t turn out to be an ongoing issue, but the Rams did make a change at the position eventually. Now Floyd has started out with an inordinate amount of missed tackles and we must always allow for — and assume in the beginning — the idea that it is not a pattern that will repeat.
But it is one to pay attention to.