Uh-oh... The Sackwatch is trending the wrong way through 5 games this season. Let's take a look at where the Chicago Bears stand so far.
Sackwatch after 5 games
2010 - 21 (Martzfense)
2011 - 18 (Martzfense)
2012 - 14 (Mike Tice O)
2013 - 9 (TCO)
2014 - 12 (TCO)
Something is amiss with the Bears' pass protection and I can honestly say it has something to do with their offensive line. Last year the Bears started the same 5 players in all 16 games. This year through 5 games, the Bears have already used three different starting lineups. Continuity is key on the o-line and not only are the Bears shuffling in different players, but the players coming in are brand new to the team this year. Things should settle down as the overall health of the offense improves, but we'll have to wait and see.
Sack 9 - First quarter 11:32 Wes Horton
You can say this play was the welcome-to-the-NFL moment for Bears rookie Ka'Deem Carey, as he is absolutely obliterated by Carolina middle linebacker Luke Kuechly. For as bad as the play looked, you have to give the rook some kudos for attacking his man. But should it have been his man?
Take a look at the play below.
Now tell me who was Bears' rookie left tackle Michael Ola blocking?
Carolina came out in a variation of the old Bear 46 Defense, with three down linemen squeezed inside. Ola had help to his left in the person of Eben Britton, and it was Briton that took the widest Panther. Defensive end Wes Horton, who is credited with the sack, is lined up on the outside shoulder of Chicago left guard Matt Slauson. Ola doesn't have a man directly on him, but he should see Kuechly in a threatening position and ready to blitz.
In my opinion, Ola should have squeezed the B Gap between he and Slauson. Had he done that, he would have been in position to pick up a potential blitz. If the blitz doesn't come he can then work his way outside and help Britton. Speaking of Britton, he lunged at his man. He does a good job in inducing his guy to the outside, but he doesn't stay with the defender. Britton isn't moving his feet to cut off where his man is heading, he's attacking where the defender was.
So the first pressure Jay Cutler feels is from Kuechly, but I'm not blaming this entirely on Carey. In fact, I'm not going to blame him at all. Ola should have cut the blitz off, therefore he'll get half of the blame. The other half goes to Britton because it was his man that pressured Cutler secondly.
Wes Horton simply cleaned up the sack after Cutler was forced to scramble.
Sack 10 - Fourth quarter 9:24 Charles Johnson
This is another interesting look and blitz from the Panthers. They have eight players up tight to the line of scrimmage, then drop Kuechly off at the snap and loop defensive end Mario Addison (97) around to where Kuechly was. They blitz a defensive back off the Bears' left side and a linebacker off the Bears' right edge. Defensive end Charles Johnson (95) is sneaking inside to rush after lining up outside.
Does this GIF remind you of the Mike Martz era?
The blame for this sack could have gone to a few different Bears, but I'll start my critique from left to right.
Left tackle Michael Ola forgets to move his feet. Left guard Slauson comically whiffs on the blitzer. Center Brian de la Puente allows Charles Johnson to cross his face to the right side A Gap, then has no leverage and gets pushed straight back. Right guard Kyle Long delivers a hand punch to the Panther defensive tackle to his B Gap, then tries to recover back inside and ends up looking like a chicken with his head cut off. Right tackle Jordan Mills, well, he actually moves his feet pretty well, I'm just not sure who he's looking to block.
Tight end Martellus Bennett, who initially lunges at his man, recovers and pushes Thomas Davis (58) past the pocket. Running back Matt Forte does a nice job in coming across the formation to pick up the corner blitz.
So even though Johnson was given the sack, I'm gonna split the blame between the two Bears that were beat one on one. Ola gives up the pressure to Cutler's left that causes him to try to step up, but de la Puente gives up the pressure to Johnson that leads to the actual sack.
Sack 11 - Fourth quarter 1:29 Mario Addison and Dwan Edwards
The two players that split this sack were just fortunate that Bears left guard Matt Slauson lost his match-up.
Look at Slauson's feet. Step left, gather, dead-feet. Once an offensive lineman goes flat footed he's done. Maybe the high ankle sprain is still bothering him, but he couldn't recover once Carolina DT Kawann Short popped him and threw his aside. If Slauson holds his ground, then Cutler has a pocket to step up in, so even though Ola was bull-rushed back and there was some late pressure to Jay's right, this sack is on Slauson.
Sack 12 - Fourth quarter 1:14 Kawann Short
Two plays after Short's pressure led to the sack, he cashes in on his own. The Panthers run a tackle-end twist and the Bears have no clue how to block it. Chicago left tackle Ola seems to want to stick with the defensive end, while left guard Slauson seems to want to pass his man off to Ola.
Ola got enough depth on his kick step that he was able to come under Slauson and stick with the stunting defensive end. Slauson takes DT Short to the outside, then releases the block and pirouettes back to where the defensive end was going. I can only guess that Slauson felt the stunt happening in front of him and assumed that Ola stayed home, meaning that he had to get back inside to cut off the looping DE.
Matt Forte has the play in front of him, but he seems unsure on how his offensive line is handling the stunt. It looks like he's assuming that Slauson will stick with the DT, so he slides inside.
It feels like I'm left with no other choice, but to give this sack to Slauson.
Over on the right side, Jordan Mills is beat by some hand fighting after initially cutting his man off. He does a good enough job in moving his feet to get his man past the pocket.
Here's how I have the Sackwatch after five games.
Jordan Mills - 2.5
Brian de la Puente - 2.5
Matt Slauson - 2
Michael Ola - 2
Dante Rosario - 1
Sacks Happen - 1
Jermon Bushrod - .5
Eben Britton - .5
What are your thoughts on the pass protection this week?