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Chicago Bears Sackwatch 2016: Week 1 vs. Houston Texans

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NFL: Chicago Bears at Houston Texans Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

Five sacks, ugh...

This was an awful start to the pass protection of the 2016 Chicago Bears, but just like last year, they shuffled around their offensive line a few days before they opened the season. It’s asking for trouble when you make o-line changes during the week leading up to the first game of the year, and the Bears had two new faces to break in.

Even though I was all for Cody Whitehair getting the start at center, after playing left guard most of the offseson, I knew there’d be some growing pains. I knew with him and new Bear Josh Sitton making his debut, the Houston Texans would be sure to attack the interior of Chicago’s o-line.

And they did.

They didn’t always get home, but they stressed the middle of the Bears’ o-line enough to get in their collective heads and also in quarterback Jay Cutler’s head.

The most sacks the Bears allowed last year in any one game was 5, and they’ve already hit that number this year in the opening contest.

Sigh

Here we go, on to the Sackwatch...

Sackwatch After Week 1:

2010 Sacks - 4 (Martz)
2011 Sacks - 5 (Martz)
2012 Sacks - 2 (Tice)
2013 Sacks - 0 (Trestman)
2014 Sacks - 2 (Trestman)
2015 Sacks - 2 (Gase)
2016 Sacks - 5 (Loggains)

Sack 1 - 2nd Quarter 8:45 - Whitney Mercilus

I’d like to offer up some expert technical analysis since this is the first breakdown of the season, but right tackle Bobby Massie simply got his ass beat.

The only thing I can offer up is my thought as to why he was beaten so quickly. It’s possible he expected some chip help from Bears tight end Zach Miller, who is lined up to his right.

Watch Massie in the GIF. He seems to hesitate with his eyes towards the line of scrimmage and a notion of helping right guard Kyle Long with Texan All Pro J.J. Watt. Because of that, Massie is late in turning his attention to the edge. Just a wee chip by the tight end could have been enough to alter the track from Mercilus, and get him in a better position to block.

EDIT: It was recently pointed out to me in the comment section (h/t Hester23Jordan) that Whitehair failed to give the “head nod” for the silent count the Bears were using. I’ll edit this sack allowed to .5 for Cody, but Massie still had a bad angle on his kick step so he still gets half allowed too.

Sack 2 - 3rd Quarter 11:35 - Jadeveon Clowney

If you’ve read my Sackwatch in the past, you know how much I absolutely hate these types of sacks.

Cutler had a little time, he felt the pressure and worked the pocket to find a throwing lane. Since it was a 3rd and 11, he needed his receivers to get downfield. Nothing presented itself to him, he had no where to go with the ball, so he darted towards the sideline.

At this point, since he’s out of the pocket, all he has to do is flip the ball out of bounds to avoid his team losing yards on the “sack.” But instead he runs out of bounds, giving up the sack.

Massie did a decent job on Watt, he had a chip from running back Jeremy Langford, and Long didn’t have a man so he smartly turned his attention to the All World Watt, just in case.

Had this play simply been good coverage, I probably would have put in in the Sacks Happen category, but since Jay ran out of bounds, I’m putting the sack on him.

Sack 3 - 4th Quarter 9:44 - Whitney Mercilus

This time Houston lines Mercilus up on their right side, and this time he abuses left tackle Charles Leno.

Leno has good feet on the play, but he allows Mercilus to pull his right arm down, which gets him off balance. Once Leno’s shoulders turn, he’s toast.

Check out Langford on the play though, that’s a solid blitz pick up by the 2nd year pro.

Also take a look at Houston’s John Simon (#51) as he loops around on a delayed blitz from their right side. Whitehair sees it, which is good recognition. It also seems as though left guard Sitton sees it as well, but with the blitz by #21 A.J. Bouye, there’s too much congestion for Sitton to pass off his man to Whitehair to get the looping Simon. This is just an example of the games the Texans played against the interior of Chicago’s o-line.

Sack 4 - 4th Quarter 5:28 - John Simon

Speaking of interior games...

This time Simon comes from the Texans’ left side, looping over Mercilus who slams into Chicago’s left A gap. Whitehair didn’t see Simon until it was too late, and by him turning to ride Mercilus out (a technique that would have been OK had he still been playing left tackle) he’s out of position. Whitehair has to unlearn some of the technique he used in college and even some of the technique he learned this offseason at left guard. Contrary to what some “analysts” believe, not everything learned at one position, translates to every other position on the offensive line.

Had Long stayed home, he would have been in position to pick up Simon, but you can’t fault him for holding his position for a quick second, then looking to help on J.J. Watt. Speaking of Watt, Massie does an OK job on this play, and had Simon not come untouched up the middle, Cutler could have stepped up.

Sack 5 - 4th Quarter 1:37 - A.J. Bouye

This time Bouye comes off Chicago’s right edge, and the Texans did a good job in giving the Bears’ right side something to think about. They walk a linebacker (#51 Simon) up to threaten Kyle Long, so he has to stay home. They have Watt lined up across from Massie’s outside shoulder, and on the snap, Watt takes an inside rush (to the Bears’ right B gap) to pull Massie inside. Check out the GIF.

Had the Texans not walked the LB up over Long, Long and Massie could have been quicker to recognize Bouye creeping up of the edge. Nickleback Bouye blitzed and the LB Simon raced to cover the tight end, essentially changing responsibilities on the play. But even with the nickle coming clean off the edge, the Bears had running back Jeremy Langford in position to pick it up.

Langford initially stops the blitz, but he allows separation after the hit. When Cutler works up the pocket, he ends up in Bouye’s arms. It’s a tough block, but Langford should have churned his feet and got the little defensive back out of the pocket.

By Langford coming form the left side of CHicago’s formation to pick up the blitz, Cutler probably thought Bouye had a free rush. You’ll notice Jay pull the ball down as he spies the nickleback at the same moment Langford crosses in front of him. Check out Langford presnap, he’s already of a potential blitz coming.

Over on the Bears’ left side, Leno gives the inside up way to easily against Clowney, but Sitton is there to help.

This is a hard one to place blame, but I’ll go half on Jay and half on Langford, but I don’t like how far in front of his feet Leno was on his attempt.

Here’s how I have the individual Sackwatch this week.

Jay Cutler - 1.5
Cody Whitehair - 1.5
Charles Leno - 1
Bobbie Massie - .5
Jeremy Langford - .5

Since this is week one, I want to end Sackwatch on a positive note.