The Chicago Bears may have allowed one sack to the San Francisco 49ers, but the big Sackwatch story on the season is the Bears are actually under the Trestman pace from 2013. Adam Gase's play calling, Jay Cutler's scrambling ability, a good use of tight ends and backs staying in to block, having chip help when needed, and the five offensive lineman have all had a hand in aiding the pass protection this year.
Check out the running totals...
Sackwatch after 12 games
2010 - 45 Martz
2011 - 34 Martz
2012 - 36 Tice
2013 - 21 Trestman
2014 - 30 Trestman
2015 - 20 Gase
Marc Trestman's scheme was all about getting the ball out quickly, whereas Adam Gase has shown a commitment to the run that keeps a defense off balance. In 2013 the Bears were about 60/40 in their pass/run ratio. In Trestman's 2nd year, 2014, the Bears were closer to 65/35 in their pass/run ratio. This year the Bears are around 54/46. Even though the Bears are passing less, Cutler is actually averaging more yards per game than he did last year. This season in the 10 games Cutler has started and finished, he's averaging 259 yards per game, in 2014 he averaged 254.
Sack 20 - Fourth quarter 10:26 Jaquiski Tartt
The Niners showed 5 pass rushing threats as Jay Cutler went through his cadence, but the two linebackers backed off, leaving just the three down lineman. They brought a defensive back (#36 Dontae Johnson) on the blitz around Chicago's right edge, from the opposite side of the linebackers. Defenses do this quite often as a way to get an o-line to slide protection one way, then hopefully blitz into a less protected area (more on this later).
Chicago running back Jeremy Langford starts into the right flat before spying Johnson. Langford is unable to get a piece of the blitz, but Cutler is able to work away from the threat.
If this was all the Niners sent, the Bears would have been OK, but Jaquiski Tartt comes in real late to clean up the sack.
I'm splitting this sack two ways. Tartt just makes a good play with his pass rush, so half of the sack allowed goes to Sacks Happen. I'm not sure if this was a delayed blitz, or if Tartt was responsible for Langford in the flat. If it was the later, then when Tartt saw Langford staying in to block he rushed the passer. Defenses will do this on occasion, if a defender has a man/area responsibility, and there's no one for him to pick up, they'll just freelance a bit.
The other half of the blame on this one goes to Jay Cutler. When a QB is outside the pocket he's allowed to chuck the ball away to avoid a sack. Look at where Cutler rolls right, it looks as though he's just past where right tackle Kyle Long lined up. It's close, so had Cutler decided to throw it away, the ref may not have thrown the flag. Then again, it was close, so Cutler may have not wanted to chance an intentional grounding penalty. Jay possibly could have taken another step or two to the right to ensure he was out of the pocket, but Tartt was closing really fast.
The other aspect of this sack I want to highlight is right guard Patrick Omameh. His initial set sees him with no one to block so he gets his head on a swivel. He notices Johnson a bit late, but he does make an effort to get him. Omameh then notices Tartt, but he was also too late. I can't fault him on this play because he had a long way to go to pick up the athletic Tartt.
There's one more blocking scheme I want to point out. The Bears could have blocked their right side by having Long pass his man off inside to Omameh, while Long picked up the blitz off the edge. Then again, it is possible the Bears expected the linebackers to blitz, causing them to slide responsibility to the left (we talked about that earlier). If that was the case then Long's responsibility is to allow the DB around the edge to be picked up either by the running back or by a hot read by his QB. If that happened then Tartt may not blitz, because Langford is in the flat.
This is just a little bit of the chess match taking place on every play in football.
Here's how I have the Sackwatch after 12 games.
Sacks Happen - 4.5
Charles Leno Jr. - 4.33
Kyle Long - 3.34
Vlad Ducasse - 2.33
Matt Slauson - 1.5
Jermon Bushrod - 1
Patrick Omameh - 1
Jay Cutler - 1
Hroniss Grasu - .5
Matt Forte - .5
What are your thoughts on the Sackwatch this week?