Chicago Bears Sackwatch 2012: Week 8 vs. Carolina Panthers

David Banks

The Chicago Bears gave up six sacks in the first half against the Carolina Panthers, but tightened up the protection in the second half, kept Jay Cutler out of harms way, and came back to win the game.

I'm really getting tired of seeing Jay Cutler dumped for a sack on the their first offensive play of the game. For the 3rd time in 7 games, Mike Tice dialed up play that got his QB sacked on play numero uno. Often times it's the offensive line that takes the brunt of complaints when you look over the sacks allowed stat, but protecting a QB is a team effort. Part o-line, part running backs, part tight ends, part offensive coordinator, and part quarterback.

I can't fathom how a QB that has been hit, pressured, and sacked so often as a Chicago Bear, struggles with his internal clock. Thousand one, thousand two, thousand three... THROW IT OR RUN!

I know Jay can't just chuck it away while he's in the pocket, but where are all the roll outs were were promised with the "new" offense? Tice's O is still a work in progress, and with Matt Forte, Earl Bennett, and Alshon Jeffery all missing time so far, I can understand the offense sputtering from time to time. And I do believe they will hit their stride soon, and when it "clicks", it'll be a beautiful thing.

But on to the matter at hand, and looking at the 6 sacks the Bears gave up on Sunday to the Carolina Panthers. Here's the bad news...

Sackwatch after 7 games
2010 - 31
2011 - 21

2012 -25

And the good news, they didn't allow a sack in the second half.


Sack 20 - First Quarter 11:55 - Greg Hardy
The Bears came out in a I formation with a double tight end set and a play action pass called. Hindsight says they should have run it. There was a huge hole for Forte to run through, and it would have been a solid 1st down gain. Carolina right defensive end Greg Hardy just bull rushed Chicago tight end Matt Spaeth. I've said it before and I'll say it again, I do not like leaving TEs alone on DEs. Spaeth had good technique, he had a good base, he was just pushed back by a player who's bigger and stronger. I suppose if I were to nitpick, Spaeth could have been a little lower, but that's not a battle I'd trust my TEs to win very often.

Sack 21 - First Quarter 1:18 - Greg Hardy
The Bears had a 2nd and 10, and they went with an empty backfield. Cutler was in a shotgun, and with 5 guys running routes there should be multilevel options for him to look to. J'Marcus Webb will be the guy that probably is tabbed with the sack allowed stat, but this sack is on Cutler. He felt some pressure, and instead of moving to his right or left, he moved backwards. Webb set with balance, his punch was effective, and he moved Hardy past the pocket where his QB should have been, right into Hardy.

The initial pressure, that came after 3 seconds, was from the middle. Right guard Lance Louis was pushed back, but he held his ground. There was also a little pressure from the right edge, but right tackle Gabe Carimi was in front of his man, until he lost his feet. But the ball should have been out at that point.

Sack 22 - First Quarter :43 - Charles Johnson
On the very next play Jay is dropped again. Gabe Caimi's man made the sack, but this wasn't his fault. The Panthers sniffed out the attempted screen that the Bears tried to set up to the left, and Cutler had no where to throw. Carimi did his job by cutting down the back side of the play, but with Cutler not throwing the ball, Charles Johnson had time to get up and pick up a strip sack on Jay. You can't pin this on Cutler, you can't pin on Carimi, it's just a good play by Carolina.

Sack 23 - Second Quarter 13:28 - Dwan Edwards
The Bears were faced with a 3rd and 7 from their own 26 yard line, and they came out in a shotgun with trips right. The Panthers showed blitz, but only brought 4. They had good pressure, but it was J'Marcus Webb that allowed right DE Dwan Edwards to beat him for the sack.

Webb started out OK, but Edwards pulled him off balance, and beat him to the outside. With the way Webb so easily lost his footing, I'd guess that he was more concerned with the bull rush or allowing the DE to dip back inside.

Sack 24 - Second Quarter :19 - Greg Hardy
The Bears had some momentum having just intercepted Cam Newton, and with the ball near midfield they hoped to get at least 3 on the final drive of the half. With 38 seconds left the Bears only needed about 20 yards for Robbie Gould range. First play was an 11 yard gain to Brandon Marshall, and Jay hurried them back to the line to conserve a time out.

But the next play Hardy picked up his 3rd sack of the day, this time beating Chilo Rachal with superior quickness. Rachal didn't move his feet, he didn't use his hands, and he let Hardy shoot the B gap and get to his QB. It looked like a lazy effort from the Bears left guard.

Sack 25 - Second Quarter :14 - Charles Johnson
After that last horrendous play the Bears called a time out leaving 14 seconds on the clock, but the 6th and final sack of the game came on the very next snap. Johnson got to Cutler for another sack and another forced fumble. This time the Johnson sack is Carimi's fault. Johnson was lined up wide of the Bear TE that was next to Carimi on Chicago's right side. Gabe retreated and set up with a good kick step, but as Johnson made contact, the Bears RT stopped his feet. Carimi tried to push his man past Cutler, but Johnson slapped the ball away with his right hand as he went by.

It was good to see a better pass protection effort in the 2nd half, but the Bears have to find a way to get the offense rolling.

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