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Chicago Bears Sackwatch 2014: Week 8 vs. New England Patriots

Every week I'll take a detailed look at each play where the Chicago Bears allow a sack. What started out as a way to keep track of Mike Martz' outdated blocking schemes, turned into a Windy City Gridiron staple. This is also the only ongoing WCG series with its own photo-shopped graphic. This is SACKWATCH!

Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports

There's a long list of problems for the Chicago Bears this season, one of which that seems to get overlooked is the pass protection. While not a train wreck like in years past, it's still taken a step back in year two of the Trest Coast Offense.

Injuries along the offensive line have obviously hurt, but I'm also seeing some playcalling issues this year. It seems like head coach and play caller Marc Trestman is in a funk, but it also seems like the players aren't all on the same page. It's not only hard to determine where blame lies on every sack allowed, but it's also tricky to figure out if the players are missing a read or if the scheme doesn't allow for certain checks to be made. The first sack allowed is a good example of this.

But first, where do we stand on the Sackwatch so far...

Sackwatch Cutler

Sackwatch after 8 games
2010 - 32 (Martzfense)
2011 - 21 (Martzfense)
2012 - 28 (Mike Tice O)
2013 - 12 (TCO)
2014 - 20 (TCO)

Ugh... We're near 2011 Martzian levels of sucktitude...

Sack 18 - Second quarter 1:42 Akeem Ayers
New England is showing seven men at the line of scrimmage in a threatening manner and the Bears only have six committed to block. The Patriots end up dropping 3 of their players off into coverage, but they blitz the defensive back that was covering the 2nd Bear receiver from their left. This was a confusing blitz design by Bill Belichick and the Pats, but it should have been both picked up by the Bears and recognized by Jay Cutler and his receivers.

Unless there was no blitz adjustment built into the play.

Check out the play below.

As soon as Chicago's second receiver from the top spies his man blitzing, he should be curling or running a quick out route. This was a 2nd and 6, so shorten your route and see what happens. Chicago's third receiver in from the left starts off uncovered, yet he runs straight out too. It's possible that the Patriot defender nearest him (#52 Ayers) would have been assigned pass coverage, but he stunts to the inside. Why didn't that Bear shorten his route too?

The fact that there was no hot read on this particular play is a problem. I just don't know whose problem it is.

But as for the sack, it's Ayers that loops around to clean up the scrambling Cutler, but it was the poor technique by Matt Forte that led to the sack. Forte has the blitzer right in front of him, but he lunges at his guy. Watch Forte try and recover without moving his feet. He's reaching as Jamie Collins goes past him. Maybe he thought center Roberto Garza would stick with Collins who shot the left A Gap, but Garza had a man to the other A Gap as well. There were four threats to his right so he was correct in protecting the right side A Gap.

Left tackle Jermon Bushrod was fooled into think his outside was clean when his man (Ayers) looped inside. Bushrod, thinking he didn't have anyone to block, helped left guard Matt Slauson. The defensive back ended up coming unhindered, but it was the pressure up the middle that spooked Jay.

Sack 19 - Second quarter 1:07 Zach Moore and Dont'a Hightower
You remember this play don't you? The sack/fumble that was scooped up and returned for a fumble, providing the Patriots with points 32 through 37. Even through this sack was split, I'm placing the blame on Matt Forte again.

Forte sets up too early and Hightower jukes right around him. Running backs have to get their hands up just like the offensive line and Forte's don't come up. The overall pass protection holds up fairly well, although I'm not sure why right guard Kyle Long tried to come off his man to get the blitzing Hightower. Long has to know that his right tackle is on an island, leaving him responsible for #90 Zach Moore. Long does inadvertently trip Moore up, but he hustles up to get in on the sack.

I think if Forte would have stonewalled his guy, this sack doesn't happen.

Sack 20 - Third quarter 8:06 Dominique Easley and Vince Wilfork
The Patriots give teams so many looks on defense. Here they have rookie defensive lineman Dominique Easley working from a 2-point stance over Chicago left tackle Bushrod, and he actually picks up half of this sack. Bushrod initially does a good job in getting Easley upfield, but he keeps working and helps take down Cutler.

I was going to give Bushrod a pass on this sack allowed, but I think he's deserving of half of it. He doesn't keep his feet moving and ends up too far in front of his feet towards the end of his block. His problem was technique, but the other Bears' tackle made a mental error.

Right tackle Michael Ola's man stunted to the inside and Ola gave chase. If an edge rusher stunts behind his DT, the offensive tackle has to pass him off and expect that one of his teammates inside will pick him up. Right guard Kyle Long saw the stunt coming to him, so he allowed big #75 Vince Wilfork to go outside where he thought Ola would be.

There's two more things I want to point out about this play. Look at Patriot safety Patrick Chung at the bottom of the screen. He's covering Bears' tight end Martellus Bennett, who is lined up right next to Ola. Had he blitzed, he would have a free run at Cutler because Ola took himself out of position. But also notice what Chung does to Bennett.

Did you catch it?

The 5'11", 210 pound Chung gets his hands on the 6'6", 265 pound Bennett. Even if Chung doesn't give blanket coverage on Bennett like he did here, his jam would have slowed Chicago's tight end down. What an interesting concept...

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

Jordan Mills - 4.5
Jermon Bushrod - 3
Michael Ola - 2.5
Brian de la Puente - 2.5
Matt Slauson - 2
Matt Forte - 2
Sacks Happen - 2
Dante Rosario - 1
Eben Britton - .5

What are your thoughts on the pass protection half way through the season?