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Chicago Bears Sackwatch 2011; Week 1 vs. Atlanta Falcons

Damn...  there's one...
Damn... there's one...

Any NFL expert worth a damn is hinging the Bears success on the offensive line.  After last year's horrifically bad play resulting in Jay Cutler being sacked 52 times, more than any Bears QB ever (sacks weren't officially a stat til 1969 ), and the Bears 2010 sacks allowed total of 56 leading the league by a wide margin, I wanted to document the hopefully improved play of the offensive line this season.  I'll give each sack given up my best guess as to who's at fault, and if I'm able, I'll provide some technical analysis.

Sackwatchcutler_medium Last year against the Lions the Bears gave up 4 sacks, this season week one saw Jay Cutler taken down 5 times.  Not a good start!  But the eyeball test tells me the line performed much better than last year.  There were a number of deep 7 step drops called by Mike Martz against the Falcons.  Last year I remember watching in fear for Jay as he dropped back to pass.  Against Atlanta, he had time to allow the receivers to run their deep routes, and he was stepping into his throws.  Overall, I liked what I saw in week 1.

Sack 1 - 1st Quarter 2:42 John Abraham
At least the first sack of the year came against a Pro Bowl caliber pass rusher. Abraham took down Cutler for a 9 yard loss on 1st and 10.  His sack was set up from pressure opposite him, left defensive end Ray Edwards bull rushed Bears right tackle Gabe Carimi and that made Cutler uncomfortable.  Cutler was forced avert his eyes from down field and step back and into the oncoming rush of Abraham.  Abraham beat J'Marcus Webb around the edge, but had Carimi not been bulled back Webb might have pushed Abraham right past Jay.  Webb's initial kick step appeared to be too parallel to the line of scrimmage and that allowed Abraham to get the jump on Webb.  This sack is on Webb.

Sack 2 - 2nd Quarter 15:00 John Abraham
Not a good start to the 2nd quarter for the Bears, taking a 3 yard loss on a 3rd and 9 sack from Abraham again.  Abraham was lined up far outside of Webb, a tough block against a speed rusher, but Webb could have helped himself by opening up on his kick step a little more.  He was again too parallel and that makes it tough to catch up to a speedy DE.  Abraham simply ran past Webb, Cutler did step up to avoid the rush, but Abraham was relentless and chased down the sack.  This one was on Webb again.

Sack 3 - 2nd Quarter 10:14 Kroy Biermann
This one is on the rookie Carimi.  Biermann gave a hard upfield rush, then slipped back under Carimi's block, after pushing Carimi's inside arm up-field.  That turned Carimi's shoulders, and that was all Bierman needed to quickly get underneath the block and make the sack.

Sack 4 - 4th Quarter 5:31 Vance Walker
This sack was on Jay.  As he readied the ball to throw a slant pass he bobbled it, dropped it, then fell on it.  Easiest sack of Walkers career is my guess.

Sack 5 - 4th Quarter 1:11 Lawrence Sidbury
This one is nobody's fault.  Mike Martz called a roll out for Cutler on a 3rd and 9 late in the game, and instead of throwing the ball away, which would have stopped the clock, Cutler slid down in bounds to keep the clock moving.  A heady play by Cutler.  And I'm guessing that was the easiest sack of Sidbury's career.

Jay Cutler was 22/32 for 312 yards with 2 TD and 1 INT with a 107.8 passer rating.  I'm talking about the real passer rating not the idiotic ESPN QB B.S. rating. 

2010 Sacks - 4
2011 Sacks - 5

I'd like to give a helmet tip to Kev for the idea behind this series of posts.  Thanks Kev!