In my attempt to break down every sack on the 2011 season I discovered a few things. For one, it's impossible to assign blame on every sack. If the quarterback is supposed to roll to his right, but the right tackle misses his block causing the QB to step back inside into the waiting arms of a blitzing linebacker that slipped the block of the running back, is that sack allowed credited to the RT or the back? A coach would get all over the tackle, but who knows how a grading service or an official statistician sees the sack.
Secondly, Mike Martz and his scheme were to blame on a lot of the sacks in 2011. His reluctance to chip or to max protect on occasion and his insistence on the deep drops against a wide edge rusher led to a number of sacks. During the bye week I looked at the sack numbers up to that point (21 through 7 games). So I needed to go back through my Sackwatch posts to see where the blame lies for most of the post-Cutler sacks. Here's the final numbers in case you missed them;
The Bears improved. That's a positive. It's something to build on for the 2012 season, but the most important things leading into the '12 campaign is Mike Tice running the offense and a full off-season to prepare the offensive line. I'm optimistic that the starting five (who ever it is) and the new scheme will knock some sacks off that number for the '12 season. If I were to set an early over/under for sacks allowed in 2012, I'd go with 33.
Using my Sackwatch calculations, I have the Bears leader in sacks allowed to be left tackle J'Marcus Webb with 14. He actually went a few weeks after the bye without giving up a sack, as his first sack allowed wasn't until week 14. But then he gave up 2 more in week 15 and 3.5 in week 17 in the Jared Allen debacle. Webb has shown that he can perform at a high level and I really hope the added competition at left tackle and the full slate of OTAs will push his play to take the next step.
Finishing second on the list is Lance Louis who gave up 10 sacks, all while playing out of position at right tackle. After looking adequate after initially kicking outside, he looked lost in a few games, including really pooping the bed against the Chiefs where he gave up 5 sacks. Louis also gets the distinction of allowing the final sack of 2012.
The next culprit on my list is the scheme itself or failed execution of the scheme. There were 6 instances where I can't tell who was at fault. An example of this was week 17 against the Vikings. They ran a stunt where they looped a DT all the way around two other d-linemen. The play took a while to develop and I'm not sure who was responsible for the looping DT. Did they fail as a group in passing off the stunt? Should there have been a line call that was never made? Was someone responsible to check the edge for a delayed blitz or a late developing stunt? No way for me to know...
Frank Omiyale allowed 4 sacks, but he's gone so I'll move on to the 4 sacks I'm pining on Jay Cutler and here they are; 1) Held the ball too long, 2) Bobbled the ball and just fell down, 3) He slid down to keep the clock running, and 4) He scrambled and ran into Chris Williams who was pulling to sell the play action. I wonder who the official sack allowed stat went to?
In my opinion Caleb Hanie is to blame for 3 sacks. In week 12 Hanie threw the ball away, but the ref ruled him out of bounds (bad call) and in the same game he scrambled up the middle for a no gain, but technically a sack. There was also a coverage sack in the Bronco game.
Kellen Davis gave up two sacks before the bye and Kahlil Bell gave up two after the bye. Marion Barber was responsible for a sack allowed as was Chris Spencer, and Gabe Carimi gave one up way back when he was playing.
And if my math is correct, I have one sack unaccounted for. I could have put it in the scheme category, but I do have it narrowed down to two Bears for the blame. In week 12 Raider defensive tackle Tommy Kelly shot the A gap between center Roberto Garza and guard Chris Spencer so fast, that he caused Hanie to step into the sack by Kamerion Wimbley. Wimbley was being blocked by Matt Forte, but there's no way he deserved the blame. Pin this sack on either Garza or Spencer.
Even though I assigned blame to certain players, that doesn't necessarily expunge Martz of blame on some of those. He left his tackles in bad situations more often than not, and yes, the players should have been able to perform better, but they didn't. Martz should have known his personnel and helped them when needed. That much talked about 5 game stretch where the protection wasn't as bad was helped out by Cutler's athleticism, but also smarter play calls, and believe it or not the o-line did play fairly well during the stretch.
Since I'm on record in thinking the sacks allowed will drop, I guess I'll get on record who I think will be the Bears starting five. Things could obviously change, but here's who I think will open the season starting on the o-line.
LT - Webb, LG - E. Williams, C - Spencer, RG - Louis, RT - Carimi.
I wouldn't be surprised to see Chris Williams win the left tackle spot, and as I've speculated before, I think Garza may be a cap casualty.