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Chicago Bears Sackwatch 2016: Week 3 vs Dallas Cowboys

With no sacks to break down this week, I figured I’d look at one positive play and one negative play from the Bears. EDIT: The NFL changed 1 play to a sack...

NFL: Chicago Bears at Dallas Cowboys Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

The Chicago Bears didn’t allow a single sack* on Sunday Night Football. That’s a positive in the otherwise horrible night of football. Here’s another, the Dallas Cowboys only hit Bears’ quarterback Brian Hoyer one time.

In my years of doing the Sackwatch, I can’t recall that ever happening.

EDIT: Apparently the NFL deemed the fall and fumble by Hoyer a “team sack.”

I’m not saying the pass protection was flawless, because it wasn’t, but the fact that the pressures were kept to a workable minimum, and that the gameplan called for quite a few short passes, and the Bears may have found the recipe for a serviceable offense.

Then again, they were playing a poor Dallas front that isn’t exactly the Doomsday Defense, so we’ll have to see how they fare this week against the Detroit Lions to know if the pass pro has turned a corner.

I know some fans are fired up by the stellar stat line from QB Brian Hoyer, but much like the previous two weeks, his was a tale of two halves. In the First half, the Bears’ O was stuck in neutral and Hoyer was dinking and dunking his way to an 8 of 12, 71 yards, 82.3 passer rating half. Fans were all over Twitter wondering why Hoyer wasn’t going down field.

In the second half, with Dallas comfortably ahead, defensive coordinator Rob Marinelli was willing to sit back and just play cover two. The veteran Hoyer completed 22 of 37 2nd half passes for 246 yards and 2 TDs. His passer rating for the half was 97.4.

In the first two games, Jay Cutler and the Bears played decently in the first halves, with Cutler’s combined 20 of 26 passing, 301 yards, 1 TD and a 127.2 passer rating. He was sacked twice and hit four times against the Texans and Eagles in the first halves of those games.

Before I give you Cutler’s 2nd half numbers, here are the league leading combined sack/QBH numbers from the first two weeks, 8 sacks and 18 QBH. Compare that to the 1 QBH that the Cowboys had against the Bears and Hoyer.

Here’s what Cutler has done in the 2nd halves this season, 8 for 20, 72 yards, 2 interceptions and an awful 10.8 rating. The pass protection has gotten progressively worse in those first two games and Cutler couldn’t overcome it.

Here’s where the Bears stand in the Sackwatch.

Sackwatch after 3 games

2010 - 8 (Martz)
2011 - 14 (Martz)
2012 - 11 (Tice)
2013 - 3 (Trestman)
2014 - 7 (Trestman)
2015 - 6 (Gase)
2016 - 9 (Loggains)

With no sacks to breakdown this week I could have taken a day off, but our loyal Sackwatch readers deserve something. So this week I’ll take a look at the 2nd touchdown reception to Zach Miller (Yay!) and the Hoyer fumble that many believed would be creditted as a sack (Boo).

4th Quarter 6:35 - Hoyer to Miller for the TD
It’s so nice to see a quarterback throw from a clean pocket. The Cowboys rush four and the pass protection holds up. Zach Miller starts off on the right side, next to tackle Bobby Massie, then runs across the field in front of the defenders. He has a DB in his back pocket, but he kind of brushed him off by running past the Dallas linebacker.

The DB had outside leverage, allowing Miller an inside release, so he either expected some inside help or he just thought he would be able to stick with the Bears TE.

Alshon Jeffery , at the top of the formation, runs into the end zone and towards the safety, to occupy the defense. Chicago’s runningback checks for blitzers, then clears out a passing window for Hoyer to hit Miller on the crossing route. Textbook touchdown.

As for the pass protection, I have nothing negative to say about this play. Left tackle Charles Leno was left on an island and he took his man past the pocket.

*Sack 9 - 4th Quarter 2:20 - Hoyer falls down and fumbles
The NFL changed this play to a “team sack”

Even though this wasn’t ruled a sack initially, the pass protection wasn’t very good. Here’s why it wasn’t a sack (initially); Hoyer escaped the pressure, he then tripped over Massie’s feet, then dropped the ball, Dallas recovered. Had Hoyer not fumbled the ball when he fell, but was touched by a defender, then that would have been a sack.

Since Hoyer wasn’t technically tackled, there’s no sack.

This time Miller is on the left side, and he takes an inside release against the Dallas DE, forcing him wide. Leno goes behind Miller to pick up the defender. This little physicality from Miller just helps Leno get into position for his block. Left guard Josh Sitton had no threat, so he just works back to assist in case Leno loses his man. Center Cody Whitehair and right guard Kyle Long had one threat in their area, and they both stayed home.

Which brings me to Massie.

He starts off good. He gets back into position with good footwork, but a little deke to the inside by defensive end David Irving (#95) is all it took to get Massie out of position. Irving hesitates, then runs right around Massie. For being such a big strong man, I’ve yet to see Massie’s hand punch help him out.

Look how Dallas lined things up presnap, they had two defenders up threatening the Bears’ left side, which essentially schemed Massie on an island. Long had to squeeze inside because Dallas was showing 4 defenders to his left.

They ended up only rushing three before dropping back in a prevent, but this is a good play design to trick the Bears’ pass protection.

EDIT: Since this really wasn’t a sack, it goes into the Sacks Happen category.

Here’s how I have the individual Sackwatch after three weeks.

Jay Cutler - 3
Cody Whitehair - 1.5
Sacks Happen - 1
Logan Paulsen - 1
Charles Leno - 1
Bobbie Massie - 1
Jeremy Langford - .5

What are your thoughts this week?