Breaking down tape without access to the actual Chicago Bears coaches and players is often times a subjective practice. To an outside observer a sack perceived to be allowed by the left tackle could have very well been a missed line call by the center. A sack given up by the running back, may have been a missed assignment by the right guard. Without knowing for sure, it's hard to know for sure... you follow?
Other times it's clearly obvious where to place blame. Poor technique or lazy play stands out on film regardless of scheme. Then there's the coverage sack, technically one of the pass blockers receives blame, but inside the film-room the quarterback is lambasted for his poor decision.
Last season during the bye week I was able to go back and tabulate exactly who I felt was responsible for each of the Chicago Bears sacks allowed. This year not only will I do the same, but I'll also enlist the aid of Pro Football Focus to see how they've graded the Bears players so far.
Before we get started, let's remind everyone where we stand so far in the Sackwatch.
Sackwatch after 5 games
2010 - 21
2011 - 18
2012 - 14
Remember the Bears (4-1) have had their bye, but so far they are tied for 9th in the most sacks allowed category. Only 1 team above them have allowed more sacks and have played the same 5 games, Jacksonville with 15. For some perspective Arizona and Green Bay are 1-2 in sacks given up at 28 and 23 respectively. Chicago is still in the bottom third in the statistic, but the season as a whole hasn't been that bad. Half of their 14 sacks allowed were given up in 1 game.
I have eight different culprits for the Bears 14 sacks allowed, with the number 1 guilty party being Jay Cutler himself, with four. Some plays the Bears have committed so many blockers to pass protect that there's simply no outlet for Jay to throw to. Do you lay that on Jay's shoulders? Is that considered a scheme issue, a coverage sack? It's not like he can sling it out of bounds if he's in the pocket, and it is OK to eat a sack rather than force a ball once in a while.
Pro Football Focus (PFF) has the Chicago Bears overall team pass blocking at a -5.6, with a weekly pass block grade as follows;
Week 1 vs. Indianapolis -0.3
Week 2 vs. Green Bay -7.1
Week 3 vs. St. Louis -0.9
Week 4 vs. Dallas -0.1
Week 5 vs. Jacksonville +2.8
Using their grading standard, the weeks 1, 3, and 4 games are considered to be neutral. That week 2 contest is a negative game and the last game is a positive. Not as bad as one would think.
Oh and by the way, PFF only has Jay responsible for 1 of the 14 sacks. Remember grading is subjective...
Next on my list with 3 sacks allowed is right tackle Gabe Carimi. PFF also has Carimi with 3 sacks allowed and (yikes!) 17 QB hurries. His overall pass block grade of -9.8 is the worst on the team. His 7 penalties also leads the Bears. We have to remember this is still a young player, who has only played in 7 NFL games. He will improve.
I have J'Marcus Webb next with 2 sacks allowed and PFF has him with 3. And are you ready for this one? Webb is sitting at a neutral .07 pass block grade after 5 games. J'Webb Nation rejoice.
I have 5 different players responsible for 1 sack each. Kellen Davis, who gave up the first sack on the first play of the year is actually a +2.2 in his pass blocking according to PFF. Funny how that one early play has painted him as a bad pass protector.
Both PFF and myself agree that Matt Forte was responsible for 1 sack, and PFF grades his pass protection at a neutral -0.7.
Former starting left guard Chris Spencer is the 2nd worst graded pass protector on the Bears at -5.9, and we both have him allowing 1 sack. His replacement Chilo Rachal has graded out at a +2.3 in his pass blocking in more snaps. It appears the Bears made the right call with that switch.
Third worst in pass protection is back up running back Michael Bush at -2.3, and we do agree that he's given up a single sack. For those wondering that is the only negative grade his overall play has received from PFF. He's been a solid acquisition so far.
My final sack allowed is by right guard Lance Louis, who holds Chicago's highest pass block grade at +4.4 according to PFF. They also have him giving up 1 sack.
PFF has center Roberto Garza responsible for one of the Bears sacks, and they have another uncredited. Garza is graded the 2nd best on the team in his pass protection tied with Rachal at +2.3.
Four of the Bears current starting offensive linemen hold a positive grade according to PFF, with only Carimi's -4.0 dragging them down. Overall the o-line play has been a pleasant surprise, and I think it's safe to say their best football is ahead of them.
Can we get a shout out to #J'WEBBNATION