Coming into this game, I think most Chicago Bears' fans were worried about last season's sack leader, the Kansas City Chiefs' Justin Houston. He racked up 22 sacks last year in making his 3rd consecutive Pro Bowl, and this year he already had 3 in K.C.'s first 3 games. The Bears, and mostly right tackle Kyle Long, held Houston sackless.
That's not to say Long played a flawless game, because Houston had his fair share of hurries, but Kyle Long is improving every week at his new position.
Over on the left side, Charles Leno Jr. did a decent job as well, but he was giving up some pressure too. I still believe a healthy Jermon Bushrod is the best option at left tackle, but Leno has shown promise.
Sackwatch after 5 games
2010 - 21 Martz
2011 - 18 Martz
2012 - 14 Tice
2013 - 9 Trestman
2014 - 12 Trestman
2015 - 11 Gase
Now onto the specifics for the 2 sacks the Bears allowed this week.
Sack 10 - First quarter 8:18 Jaye Howard and Allen Bailey
You remember this play don't you? The play that immediately soured about half the Bears' fanbase on rookie center Hroniss Grasu for life. No matter how this kid plays, the narrative is already set in some of your minds. Well, not "your" minds, because the Windy City Gridiron reader is smarter than that, but those other Bears' fans have already written the Oregon rookie off.
And that's too bad, because after a rocky start, Grasu settled in. Whether it was some technique adjustments he made, or some advice he took from a coach or teammate, then again maybe it was just having left guard Matt Slauson take over the line calls. Whatever the reason, Grasu finished the game playing OK.
Before you focus on Grasu's block, take a look at right guard Vladimir Ducasse.
Chiefs defensive lineman Jaye Howard (#96) was lined up on Ducasse and he beat him in less than a second. I could be wrong, but I don't think Ducasse was passing Howard off to his inside, because he looks off balance after getting beat. Ducasse ends up getting in the way of the blitzing linebacker, but I really think that was pure luck.
The Chiefs ran an interesting stunt on this play by bringing right defensive end Allen Bailey (#97) back inside around 2 defensive linemen and by blitzing linebacker Ramik Wilson (#53) to Chicago's interior as well. The Chiefs clearly were testing the Bears' A gaps, and on this play the test worked.
The Chiefs didn't even rush anyone off the edge, they dropped both outside linebackers into pass coverage making it 4 on 5, but the design of the play by K.C. was very good on this play. For more on this Chiefs' defensive play, be sure to check out Kev's Six on 6 to see where Cutler was looking to throw the ball.
Now take a look at the center Grasu. He had threats in both A gaps, but he didn't block either guy. So he receives at least some of the blame on this sack.
Now look at left guard Matt Slauson. The Chief lineman crosses his face towards left tackle Leno, so Slauson had to be ready for someone coming back towards him. Leno takes Slauson's guy, but Slauson is late in picking up the stunting Bailey. So I have to give some of the blame for this sack to Slauson.
Now back to Ducasse. I really want to blame him for this one too, but by lucking into a blitz pickup, he gets a pass. With the OLB lining up outside of RT Long, Ducasse had to assume Long would be occupied and unable to help on a blitz. Had Grasu picked up the defender when Ducasse "passed" Howard off, then maybe Jay Cutler can escape.
I'm splitting this sack allowed between Grasu and Slauson.
Now about Jay Cutler's fumble. Once he recognizes the up the gut pressure, and he realizes he has no where to go with the ball or to evade the rush, he has to just squeeze the football and go down. Yeah, taking a safety sucks in that situation, but it's better than the TD the Chiefs scored.
Here's what Cutler said about the play and his rookie center, "Oh I thought he (Grasu) did a phenomenal job especially with this being one of the toughest places to play. With a rookie center going against a pretty good nose guard and a defense that's going to bring some pressure, he did a great job. I just need to hang onto that ball and to avoid the safety."
Sack 11 - Fourth quarter 13:51 Allen Bailey
This one just looked like it hurt Chicago's quarterback. Bailey just keeps working and he ends up getting enough of Cutler to bring him to the turf.
Take a look at Cutler's drop. After taking the shotgun snap, he drops back and gathers to throw. At this point the ball should be coming out, but the Chiefs do a good job in coverage. Matt Forte, split wide left, and Marquess Wilson, in the slot to the left, cross off the line of scrimmage, but Forte is jammed up by the defensive back. With no where to go with the ball, and the pressure starting to leak through, Cutler looks to escape.
I think 9 times out of 10, I'd give this to the sacks happen category, but after Ducasse dodged the blame on the first sack allowed, I'm pinning his one on him.
Look at his lazy-ass technique on this play. He stands up and just leans on Bailey, and Bailey easily beats the block. Ducasse does a little shuffle-chase after his guy, but Bailey, with his eyes on the prize, just chucks Ducasse away and hits Cutler.
This is about as piss-poor an effort that we'll see.
Here's how I have the Sackwatch after 5 games.
Kyle Long - 3
Sacks Happen - 2
Charles Leno Jr. - 1
Vlad Ducasse - 2
Jermon Bushrod - 1
Matt Slauson - .5
Hroniss Grasu - .5
Matt Forte - .5
Jay Cutler - .5
What are your thoughts on the Sackwatch this week?