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Chicago Bears Sackwatch 2014: Week 6 vs. Atlanta Falcons

According to Pro Football Focus the Atlanta Falcons had 23 total pressures (sacks, hits, hurries) against the Chicago Bears, which was their best showing this season. Even though Chicago's pass protection only allowed 2 sacks, the Sackwatch is still ahead of last year's pace.

Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

The Atlanta pass rush was a weakness through their first five games, so the Chicago Bears were hoping that would continue.

It didn't.

Atlanta was only credited with two sacks after the league determined the "third" one was a bootleg gone awry, but the Falcons' pass rush harassed Jay Cutler far more than the Bears would have liked. Right tackle Jordan Mills has received the brunt of the criticism after having probably his worst game of the season, but Michel Ola had his issues as well.

Let's see where the Sackwatch stands after six games...

Sackwatch Cutler

Sackwatch after 6 games
2010 - 27 (Martzfense)
2011 - 19 (Martzfense)
2012 - 19 (Mike Tice O)
2013 - 9 (TCO)
2014 - 14 (TCO)

The Bears have to hope starting left tackle Jermon Bushrod returns so they can stop scheming help to both tackles

Sack 13 - First quarter 18:08 Jonathan Massaquoi
Jordan Mills loses his one on one battle before he even gets his hands on Massaquoi. This is just pure speed by Massaquoi and poor technique by Mills. Look at Mills' right foot in the GIF below.

He picks it up and puts it down in roughly the same place. He gets zero depth on his kick step, so he's forced to lunge at the pass rusher. Mills is almost turned perpendicular to the line of scrimmage before he gets his hands up. All Massaquoi has to do he keep his inside arm on Mills and keep working around the edge.

This sack is on Mills, but look at Bears left tackle Ola. He has a good kick step, but he's jolted, then beat inside, then he performs a sort of awkward take down that could have been called a hold. Left guard Matt Slauson checks his inside gap, then tries to help out his tackle, but by the time he realizes Ola is beat, it's too late.

Sack 14 - Second quarter 2:00 Robert McClain
Getting sacked isn't a good way to start a two minute drill, but that's exactly what happened on this 2nd and 6 play. Cutler takes off trying to avoid a sack, but he runs into the blitzing corner. This was a good play design by the Falcons. They show seven men on the line, forcing the Bears to be cognizant of all potential blitzers.. Even though Atlanta drops both linebackers off at the snap, Chicago has to account for their presence.

The Bears do this a lot.

By mugging up to the A Gaps, an offense will have to either squeeze protection in, or have the running back responsible for one of the A Gap blitzers. When an offense does this, it usually will ensure a solo block for one of, if not both of, their edge rushers.

If you look at RT Mills, he checks his inside gap first before jumping out to the defensive end (#71 Kroy Biermann). If the blitz did come, right guard Kyle Long would have stuck with the linebacker and Mills would have had to take #99 Tyson Jackson, leaving Biermann a free rush. Had that happened, Cutler would have probably quickly hit his tight end Martellus Bennett who runs up the seam.

I was tempted to assign blame for this sack to right tackle Jordan Mills, because it was his man that applies the pressure that Cutler feels, causing him to scramble. But if you look at where Cutler sets up, Mills actually pushes his man past that spot. So even though Mills is out over his feet a bit too much, he actually does an OK job.

I thought about giving blame to running back Matt Forte, since it was his man that ends up with the sack. But Forte does a good job in taking on the blitz, then staying between his man and his QB. It's not until Cutler steps up that he runs into the awaiting arms of Robert McClain.

Center Roberto Garza is pushed back a little too much for my liking, but he doesn't allow his man to get past him. If you recall the sacks allowed by back up center Brian de le Puente, he gave his man a side and lost leverage on the bullrush.

The last Bear I contemplated assigning this sack to was Jay Cutler. He looks to start his scramble a wee bit before the pressure from the right gets to him, but he probably didn't see any of his receivers open down-field. He takes the shotgun snap, drops back, sets up to throw, pumps it, then takes off. He had ample time to deliver the ball, but Atlanta probably had some solid coverage.

This is just one of those plays where sacks happen.

I wanted a second opinion, so I peeked at the PFF guys and they only had the Bears responsible for just one sack on the afternoon, the first one to Jordan Mills.

Since I had it GIF'ed up anyway, here's the play that was changed by the NFL to a -7 yard run by Jay Cutler.

Yay! Not a sack!

Here's how I have the Sackwatch after six games.

Jordan Mills - 3.5
Brian de la Puente - 2.5
Matt Slauson - 2
Michael Ola - 2
Sacks Happen - 2
Dante Rosario - 1
Jermon Bushrod - .5
Eben Britton - .5

What are your thoughts on the pass protection against the Falcons and on the season so far?