These last four weeks the Chicago pass protection has been exposed. I'm not ready to lump all the blame on the offensive linemen, but I do hope the Bears look into picking up an NFL quality left tackle if one is available via free agency. I'd also be fine if a highly rated lineman was taken in the 1st or 2nd round of the draft. The Bears just need to amass more talent on the o-line and let the best men win in training camp. A talent upgrade is needed at a few other positions as well, but this is the Sackwatch, so we'll save those other positions for another day.
Before I get into the breakdown, I want to lay some more blame for the sacks out there. The o-line is the obvious culprit, but part has to go to Caleb Hanie and part to Mike Martz. Hanie just isn't able to make the reads as quick as Jay Cutler, and he doesn't have the pocket presence like Cutler either, and while I'm comparing the two, he doesn't have as quick a release as Jay Sizzle. It's not a knock on Hanie, it's just the truth. But by knowing all of this, the offensive coordinator didn't do him any favors with his play calls. The open backfields, the 7 step drops, the not as frequent chipping on the DEs; Those all led to more sacks than should have been allowed.
Sack 39 - 2nd Quarter :11 - Chris Clemons
I was getting a little excited at the lack of sacks for the majority of the 1st half. The Bears were sackless until the final play of the half. This was an obvious passing situation as Hanie was trying to get the Bears quickly down field with time running out. The Seattle d-linemen were in full pass rush mode and Hanie took a very awkward looking 7 step drop. The wide camera angle FOX used on the play made it hard to see exactly what happened, but it looked like Clemons was lined up against J'Marcus Webb and he did a couple spins to free himself, before he chased down the sack. Seattle DT Anthony Hargrove beat Chicago LG Chris Spencer inside, and had Clemons not got the sack, Hargrove would have.
Sack 40 - 4th Quarter 15:00 - Chris Clemons
Clemons got to Hanie again on the first play of the 4th quarter. It was a 3rd and 2 from the Chicago 28 and Clemons took a quick outside rush against Webb, but then dipped back inside, did a little hand fight with Webb, then got the sack. Webb looked late in getting his inside (right) hand punch up, and once Clemons got inside the long arms of Webb it was over. When pass blocking both hands have to be up at all times, on this play Webb punched with his left initially to stop the speed rush, but his right stayed down.
Sack 41 - 4th Quarter 11:27 - Raheem Brock
The 3rd and 4th sacks of the day were on back to back plays and were both made by Brock. And to make the pressure seem even worse, Hanie was nearly sacked on the previous play. If it wasn't for his quick thinking in chucking the ball out of bounds while out of the pocket, this could have been the 2nd of three in a row. Clemons actually beat Webb on an inside move and the FOX crew credited him with the sack, but the whistle wasn't blown until Brock wrapped Hanie up. This was a 3 step drop, but Hanie didn't have anywhere to go with the ball. Clemons first step was inside and Webb wasn't ready for the move. Webb actually holds Clemons on the play but there was no flag. Over to Brock, he took an outside rush against Lance Louis and Louis again went for a cut block. Brock avoided the attempt and got to the QB. Poor technique by both Bears tackles on the play.
Sack 42 - 4th Quarter 10:56 - Raheem Brock
Brock got to Hanie on consecutive plays, and he beat Louis again. Brock charged up field then pushed Louis past and ducked back under the block. Louis got off balance trying to stop the speed rush because his feet were a bit dead and his hand punch was a bit weak. The Seahawks blitzed on the play and if Brock didn't get the sack, they had a linebacker delayed up the middle that would have. I think at this point (Seattle up 31-14) the Bears offense was just looking forward to getting in the locker room.
I see the potential in left tackle J'Marcus Webb that the coaches do, and he may very well live up to that potential someday, but the Bears simply can't keep putting him out there in hopes the day comes soon. They need to bring in some competition this off season, and if Webb steps his game up and wins the job then they have better depth across the line.
Lance Louis, as much as I like his athleticism, belongs inside at guard. Get him in the mix on the interior, and the line will be better for it. And Gabe Carimi, much like Webb has potential (albeit the potential of a 1st rounder) to be a rock at tackle, but with so few snaps to evaluate the Bears have to have a better plan B in place.
After adding the Seattle 4 sacks to the Sackwatch, and factoring in the single sack Chicago gave up in last years week 15 game against Minnesota, and the numbers are creeping ever closer. The Bears have 2 games remaining, and a 6 sack cushion on last seasons pace. Let's keep our fingers crossed...
Sackwatch after 14 games
2010 - 48