I think I'm in the minority, but I thought Mike Tice called a solid game against the Vikings on Sunday. My only gripe is that I would have liked to see a few more running plays, but it's not like his calls prevented the team from winning. He had a good mix or drop backs, play action, and roll outs, that I think kept the Minnesota defensive line guessing. Jay Cutler had a clear lane to throw from on enough occasions, there were just some crucial drops and bad throws that hurt the team.
After holding Jared Allen sackless last time out against the Vikes, the Bears did it again. This week they did give up two sacks, but neither was from Allen. One of the reasons the pass protection was adequate was the amount of times they chipped and kept in an extra blocker. According to Tom Pelissero of ESPN 1500 of the Twin Cities, the Bears "used chips or extra protectors on 44 of 62 pass plays (70.9%) yesterday", and I agree with him, that is a lot.
An NFL team should be able to get their guys out in the pattern to catch balls, but the Bears are more concerned with keeping Cutler upright. If teams were sending extra defenders at Jay, they could at least hit hot routes, but teams are getting through with out blitzing. Time is running out to stabilize the pass protection and running out on the 2012 season. Here's where the Sackwatch stands so far;
Sackwatch after 13 games
2010 - 47
2011 - 38
2012 - 38
It's good to see the pace has slowed down a little and they caught up with the 2011 season total. With Green Bay and a healthy Clay Matthews waiting in the wings, that number could skew up again.
Sack 37 - Second Quarter 10:52 - Everson Griffen
This was a second and 20 immediately following a J'Marcus Webb holding penalty that negated a huge first down pass to Brandon Marshall. Griffen was lined up over Chicago center Roberto Garza and he immediately swam through the A gap to Garza's right. Garza kept good hand contact with Griffen, but he didn't move his feet. He eventually overextended himself and lost his block. Once Garza lost his balance he was done, he probably should have at least tried to cut down the defender.
Jay Cutler stepped up in the pocket and was sacked. It did look like Jay may have been stepping up to a running lane, but the sack came before he could take off.
Sack 38 - Second Quarter 3:18 - Brian Robison
This was the strip/sack that the Bears recovered, and the Bear that recovered the fumble was the same guy that allowed the sack. Jonathan Scott makes his Sackwatch debut this week, but he has looked solid so far in his limited time. Scott tried pushing Robison past the pocket, but Robison kept working around the edge. Cutler stepped up and and to his left, and Robison reached out and slapped the ball away.
The way Robison picked up the sack reminds me of a drill we would put our players through. We set up a big stand up heavy bag then have the defender fire out and hit and rip through the dummy. He'd then run a tight circle around some cones we set up. It helped with their balance and with relentlessly moving in a tight space as they circled the cones. It also made then cognizant to keep trying to get around the edge no matter what as we had them go a complete 360 around the circle.
The only nitpick I can criticize Scott for, is maybe cutting down the angle he gave Robison. But sometimes you have to just tip your hat to a guy for making a good play.
I'll add these the two sacks to the tally, and let's see where we stand...
Sackwatch Breakdown After 13 Games
Jay Cutler - 8
J'Marcus Webb - 5
Sacks Happen - 3
Roberto Garza - 2
Micheal Bush - 1
Jonathan Scott - 1