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Chicago Bears Sackwatch 2014: Week 2 vs. San Francisco 49ers

With two new faces on the offensive line, an injury plagued receiving corps and a talented defense to prepare for, it could have been an ugly night for the passing game of the Chicago Bears. After a sluggish start Jay Cutler found his rhythm, in part, thanks to the pass protection.

Ezra Shaw

Even without outside linebacker Aldon Smith, the San Francisco 49ers had three sacks in their week one game against the Dallas Cowboys. They may not be full strength, but they still possess a talented group of defenders that can get after the quarterback. Additionally, they were opening their brand new stadium, they had a hostile crowd cheering them on and they were facing a banged up Chicago Bears offense. I had a feeling their pass rush would bother Jay Cutler.

The Bears were able to shake off a slow start and outscore the Niners 28-3 from the waning seconds of the 2nd quarter on. The Bears allowed one sack in the first half, but I thought the pass protection held up well and it helped Jay Cutler to go on an absolute tear in the 2nd half.

Let's see where we stand two games in.


Sackwatch after 2 games
2010 Sacks - 5 (Martzfense)
2011 Sacks - 11 (Martzfense)
2012 Sacks - 9 (Mike Tice O)
2013 Sacks - 1 (TCO)
2014 Sacks - 3 (TCO)

And now to the breakdown of the sack.

Sack 3 - Second quarter 9:54 Justin Smith
Sometimes an offensive lineman does everything right and he's just flat out beat on a play. That's what happened to Michael Ola on this play. He sets up quickly, he gets his hands on Smith and he has a low enough pad level. If I wanted to get real ticky-tack, Ola's hand placement is a bit high, but I doubt it would have mattered. Justin Smith is one of the best defensive lineman in the NFL and there was no denying his bull rush on this play. Check out the GIF.

I do have two beefs on this play, however. With no man head up on center Brian de la Puente, his job is to set up in pass pro and look to help his two guards or pick up a blitzer coming through the a gap. With Pro Bowler Kyle Long to his right facing Ray McDonald and rookie Ola to his left facing Smith, I would have liked de la Puente to give the rook a little help.

My second beef on this play is the technique from right tackle Jordan Mills. He sets up to take on the wide speed rush from Niner OLB Aaron Lynch, but he takes a bad angle on his kick step and he's forced to lunge at Lynch. What makes it worse is Mills should have known that his tight end, Martellus Bennett, was going to chip before releasing. That knowledge should have made him adjust his kick step to take on the wider rush lane from Lynch. His poor technique is the reason you see the flag tossed at the end of the GIF. Mills was caught holding.

But back to the sack. Justin Smith simply outclassed the rookie. Just take a look at the tale of the tape.

Michael Ola, Bears Justin Smith, 49ers
Age 26 34
Height 6'4" 6'4"
Weight 312 270
Position OL DL
Drafted Nope 4th Overall Pick
Experience Rookie 14 years
NFL Starts 1 203
Played 2 years in the CFL
Released By the Dolphins in May
5 Pro Bowls, 1st Team All Pro in 2011
85 Career Sacks, 590 Career Tackles

It's nothing for Ola to hang his head for, he'll just chalk it up to a learning experience and get ready for the New York Jets.

What were your thoughts on the pass protection from the Bears against the 49ers?