After giving up nine sacks the previous two weeks with back up quarterback Chase Daniel starting, the Chicago Bears only allowed one on Sunday night against the ferocious pass rush of the Los Angeles Rams. There’s no denying that Mitchell Trubisky’s athleticism helps the pass protection out, not only because of his ability to scramble, but also because of the threat of him as a scrambler.
When attacking a mobile quarterback a defense has to be cognizant of contain, so you’ll often see at least one of the edge rushers always rushing to the outside. When going after a quarterback that isn’t as mobile, a defense can attack from anywhere. Edge rushers can dip back inside and coordinators can call more twists up front.
The Bears give an added wrinkle to their offense by using the read option and running RPOs. Those plays require discipline from the defense in maintaining gap integrity and in not flowing to the fakes.
But let’s get into the sack allowed by the Bears this week.
First, here’s where the Sackwatch stands historically after 13 games.
2010 - 47 Martz
2011 - 38 Martz
2012 - 38 Tice
2013 - 22 Trestman
2014 - 30 Trestman
2015 - 23 Gase
2016 - 24 Loggains
2017 - 31 Loggains
2018 - 29 Nagy
Sack 29 - First Quarter 3:35 - John Franklin-Myers
If I remember correctly, this one was on right tackle Bobby Massie.
Sackwatch over, thanks for coming!
But then I checked the tape. There’s so much more to be gleaned from a football play when you go back and watch it.
Check out the look the Rams were giving presnap.
That’s Aaron Donald (#99) between Massie and right guard Bryan Witzmann. Donald is obviously Witzman’s responsibility with center Cody Whitehair likely to help if Donald tries to go inside. Left guard James Daniels will need to step to his inside to cut off Ndamukong Suh (#93) with Whitehair also ready if Suh tries to cross his face to Chicago’s right A-Gap. Left tackle Charles Leno Jr. is on an island with defensive end John Franklin-Myers (#94), the guy that eventually picks up the sack.
So which man is Massie’s responsibility? Let’s count the defenders to the outside of Massie.
His immediate threat is the closest guy to him, so he has to be prepared in case inside linebacker Cory Littleton (#58) blitzes. His next concern is safety John Johnson III (#43) who walked up late over tight end Trey Burton and threatened to blitz. His final concern is outside linebacker Dante Fowler Jr. (#56) who is wide of Chicago’s tight end.
Neither Burton, nor tailback Tarik Cohen was helping or chipping in any way on the play. That’s either by design, or one of those two missed a check. So that makes it three Rams on one Bear (Massie).
Here’s Massie’s likely thought process.
‘Littleton is off, so if he comes late I’ll be able to adjust, but since Johnson is right here I’ll angle my kick step to get him. (Ball is snapped) Oh, shit! He dropped! Littleton isn’t coming either! Now I need to get to Fowler. Mother @&%#er!’
Now watch the play unfold.
The Rams bluffed the blitz perfectly and the Bears were caught. Burton took an inside release then ran a return route (#43 had him in man coverage). Cohen darted to the flat (#58 had him in man coverage). Fowler, who was in a wide nine technique, comes up-field and around Massie’s attempt.
Let’s say that Massie expected help from Burton and Cohen on Johnson and Littleton, and he was immediately able to focus on Fowler, then maybe he slows him up enough to give Trubisky time to find a receiver. Then again, maybe he’s still too slow to cut off Fowler.
We’ll never know, so I can’t pin this sack on Massie. I also can’t pin it on Trubisky because his read progression on this play started to his right and the rush was on him too quick to work back to his left. I’m also not going to blame Leno, because he does a very good job staying with his guy. It was the scramble that freed Franklin-Myers up to get the sack.
This was a good design by the Rams and they just caught the Bears at the right time. This one is a Sacks Happen.
Individual Sackwatch through 13 games:
Sacks Happen - 12
Mitchell Trubisky - 5
Charles Leno Jr. - 3
Kyle Long - 2
Bobby Massie - 2
Chase Daniel - 2
Bryan Witzmann - 1.5
Dion Sims - .5
Eric Kush - .5
Cody Whitehair - .5