I have to say, I've been impressed with the team effort put into protecting the quarterback this year for the Chicago Bears. The offensive line has been decent enough, even with a seemingly every-week shuffle among the starting five. Jay Cutler has been his usual elusive self in avoiding sacks. The backs and tight ends haven't failed in their chipping and blitz pick ups. And most importantly, the play calling and protection schemes from Adam Gase has put the offense in a position to succeed in pass protection.
With Gase having learned from Mike Martz, I was a little concerned that once he was away from the Peyton Manning O, that we'd see some of the stuff that made us cringe during the 2010 and 2011 seasons. Martz had a stubborn way of protecting his QB and it often resulted in a sack. Chicago led the league in sacks allowed in 2010 and they were 5th worst in 2011.
Mike Tice's offense was a bit better in 2012, with the Bears 8th worst in sacks allowed by the end of that year. During Marc Trestman's first year, the Bears climbed all up way up to a tie for 4th best in sacks allowed, but in 2014 they slipped back to the bottom half of the league in sacks allowed by ranking 19th.
This season the Bears are currently tied for 10th best in sacks allowed, and here's where they stand in comparison to years gone by...
Sackwatch after 8 games
2010 - 32 Martz
2011 - 21 Martz
2012 - 28 Tice
2013 - 12 Trestman
2014 - 20 Trestman
2015 - 14 Gase
Sack 14 - First Quarter 1:40 Melvin Ingram
If there was only one Charger that slipped through, Cutler probably could have avoided the sack, but with pressure off the edge and up the gut he had nowhere to run. First off, he immediately has a guy in his face as he sets to throw. When Cutler finishes his dropback, he begins his throwing motion and spies OLB Melvin Ingram (#54) coming free. Check out Bears' left tackle Charles Leno Jr. in the GIF below.
Leno has no chance against Ingram, especially since his technique was about as bad as I've seen this season. I don't think Bears o-line coach Dave Magazu teaches the set-stop-lunge-grab technique, but that's what Leno does here. With Leno soundly beaten on the play, it's up to the other offensive linemen to hold their own. But that doesn't happen either.
Since we started on the left side, let's continue down the line.
Why the Hell is left guard Vladimir Ducasse chasing a stunting d-lineman? He should be passing the Charger off to his fellow interior offensive linemen, instead he turns his shoulders and opens the gap for the two blitzing players. If your guy stunts away from you, you can be sure someone is coming back towards you.
Let's just imagine for a second that Ducasse stands his ground, properly passes his man to the inside and is waiting there for the blitzing Chargers. He would have picked up the first man through -- the guy that running back Ka'Deem Carey successfully did pick up -- leaving San Diego safety Eric Weddle (#32) for Carey.
If that would have happened, Cutler still would have been screwed because right guard Patrick Omameh shows no awareness of the stunt coming towards him. It's as though he's locked on to Charger lineman Kendall Reyes (#91) with his teammate, center Matt Slauson.
Slauson was OK taking Reyes, so Omameh should have extended his arms, widened out, and looked for someone else to block. Had he done that, and had Ducasse and Carey succeeded in the fantasy scenario I imagined above, then Cutler would have had a lane to step up in. Because, as you can see, right tackle Kyle Long took his man past the pocket.
So to recap; Leno (bad), Ducasse (bad), Carey (good), Slauson (good), Omameh (bad) and Long (good), but I'm pinning this sack allowed on Leno.
Before I move on to the running individual totals, please don't be that guy that says, 'Culter should have thrown the ball to Bennett in the right flat.' No, no, no, just, stop.
His first read was Alshon Jeffery to the left, but with immediate pressure from multiple spots, he didn't have time to reset and go right. Cutler sensed the pressure, he put two hands on the ball and started to brace for impact. Ingram made a good chop on the ball and knocked it loose, it happens.
For more on Cutler, his fumble, the good and the bad from Cutler's night be sure to peep out Kev's always brilliant Six on 6.
Here's how I have the Sackwatch after 8 games.
Kyle Long - 3.34
Sacks Happen - 3
Vlad Ducasse - 2.33
Charles Leno Jr. - 2.33
Jermon Bushrod - 1
Matt Slauson - .5
Hroniss Grasu - .5
Matt Forte - .5
Jay Cutler - .5
What are your thoughts on the Sackwatch this week?