The Chicago Bears are reeling, losers of three of their last four games. With their next two contests against the two division rivals in front of them in the NFC North, the season could be on the line. The defense has to pick up some of their play the next two weeks, and the offense will have to rally around back up quarterback Josh McCown.
Hopefully the Bears pass protection will continue to improve, and their five offensive linemen will continue to jell. With week eight completely in the books, the Bears are tied for the 2nd fewest sacks allowed in the NFL. Only the Detroit Lions have allowed less than the Bears' 11 sacks.
And speaking of those 11 sacks, take a look at the Sackwatch through 7 games.
Sackwatch after 7 games
2010 - 31 (Martzfense)
2011 - 21 (Martzfense)
2012 -25 (Mike Tice O)
2013 -11 (TCO)
You can check all the advanced metric sites you'd like, you can factor in the hits and the hurries, and it wouldn't matter much to me. The 2013 Chicago Bears protection is leaps and bounds ahead of where they've been the last few seasons.
In 2012 the Bears were sacked 8th most, in 2011 they were 5th most, and in 2010 they were the most sacked team in the NFL. I know I already typed it, but it bears repeating, in 2013 only the Detroit Lions have allowed fewer sacks that the 11 given up by the Bears.
And of those 11 sacks, here's where I placed the blame for each of them.
Sackwatch Totals after 7 Games
Sacks Happen - 3
Jay Cutler - 2
Kyle Long - 1.25
Matt Slauson - 1
Matt Forte - 1
Martellus Bennett - 1
Jermon Bushrod - 1
Jordan Mills - .25
Roberto Garza - .25
Josh McCown - .25
Remember last week I divvied up one sack to each of four players, hence the four .25s.
When assigning blame, only the Chicago coaching staff and the players know for sure who was at fault. Anyone without 100% access to the coaching room, is just making their best guess, myself included. I look at each sack, and come up with my best opinion on where to pin each sack.
A site we're all very familiar with, Pro Football Focus, also assigns blame for each sack allowed. Through seven games we both have found a player responsible for eight of the eleven total sacks. I call those sacks that are unaccounted for, Sacks Happen, PFF just doesn't assign blame in their statistical breakdown.
Here's where they have the sacks allowed for the 2013 Chicago Bears.
Kyle Long - 2
Jermon Bushrod - 2
Martellus Bennett - 1
Matt Slauson - 1
Roberto Garza - 1
Jordan Mills - 1
As you can see the quarter sack I gave Mills last week, in their grading, was all on Mills. They also have yet to give Cutler any responsibility on being sacked. Last year they had Cutler responsible for eight total sacks, while I had him directly responsible for 11.
This season I'm seeing a smarter Jay Cutler when he's being pressured and when there's nobody open. It seems that Marc Trestman has gotten through to Jay, and made him understand that it's sometimes better to throw the ball away and fight another play.
According to PFF, so far in 2013 Cutler has seven throw aways. He only had five all of 2012. The throw away isn't a brand new concept for Cutler, it just seems the last few years he's been unwilling to do it. He still has that gunslinger mentality, but Trestman has obviously gotten through to him.
Josh McCown is arguably as athletic as Cutler, so I would expect some of the scrambling to continue. It's yet to be seen however, if he'll be willing to chuck the ball away when a play appears unfavorable.
Through seven games the biggest surprise for me in the Bears pass protection has been the play of Jordan Mills. I figured he would fall off at some point, but his positives outweigh the negatives, and those negatives are all coachable points.
What has impressed you so far in the Bears pass protection for 2013?
More from Windy City Gridiron:
- The Bears Den: October 31, 2013 - Week 9 news and notes
- Best Chicago Bears duo of the first half of the season
- Chicago Bears Playbook - Slowing Down the Packers Offense
- Poll Of The Day: When do you think Jay Cutler will return?
- Pleased to Meet You: Week 9, Green Bay Packers
- Chicago Bears Fantasy Football: Start 'Em and Sit 'Em vs the Packers