After much deliberation and dozens of comments asking for it, Windy City Gridiron proudly presents the Chicago Bears Rush Report! With the massive success of Lester’s SackWatch over the years, we have decided it was time to bring the same type of content on a weekly basis, but for the defensive side of the ball.
Given the news that Khalil Mack is now a Chicago Bear, we couldn’t have picked a better off-season to introduce this new series. Since this is a preseason wrap-up and there isn’t a real game to discuss, I am going to skip the pleasantries and get straight to the point. So without further ado, allow me to present you with five preseason games full of sacks.
Hall of Fame Game vs. Baltimore Ravens
Sack 1 - First quarter 2:26 - Isaiah Irving
For the first sack of the preseason, Irving was basically untouched. The left tackle was simply too slow getting into his pass set. If I had to guess, I would say that he was expecting a chip from the tight end or running back. With no help, Irving picks up the easy sack and gets us kicked off.
Sack 2 - Second quarter 14:19 - Roy Robertson-Harris
Get used to noticing Robertson-Harris, because as you will see later, he has found himself a signature move. Robertson-Harris bullrushes the left guard here. Later on in this list, he develops the inside rip-move, which helps him to shed the offensive lineman. If he can consistently get this type of push and finish, the Bears will have an incredibly talented front seven.
Sack 3 - Second quarter 8:03 - Jonathan Bullard
This is one of the cheapest sacks that a defender can get. By NFL rules, if the quarterback runs out-of-bounds prior to reaching the line-of-scrimmage, then it is ruled a sack. The closest “chasing” defender is credited with the sack. In this case, Bullard is the lucky recipient. If anyone should have gotten credit, it would be rookie sixth-round pick Kylie Fitts, who actually flushes Robert Griffin III from the pocket.
This will fall under the first of two categories in which I will deduct a sack from a player. This first will be called the “Cheap” sack. The other—which will have examples of later as well—is the “Coverage” sack. These are the equivalent of having the sack be credited to the quarterback or “sacks happen” in our SackWatch segment.
Sack 4 - Second quarter 4:52 - Kylie Fitts
Here is a straight beatdown provided by Fitts to the tight end. With that No. 82 jersey, this harkens back to Logan Paulsen. The blocking effort is almost identical. Either way, this was nice to see from the rookie. Fitts needs to get to the quarterback under more control. Had Robertson-Harris not been there, this might have been a missed opportunity.
Sack 5 - Second quarter 1:27 - Nick Williams
Here is one of those that would fit either in the “Cheap” or “Coverage” sack category. Without having All-22 video, it is hard to tell how well the Ravens were covered, but based on what we can see, there doesn’t appear to be anyone open. On the flip side is the fact that Fitts makes this sack happen. He beats the right tackle with an excellent outside dip and rip move after initially showing a bull rush. Williams is there to clean up afterwards.
Sack 6 - Third quarter 9:53 - Elijah Norris
Another beating from Norris. The left tackle gets too far back in his pass set—which could be a product of the faster Irving having been there earlier in the game—and Norris is able to fall into a sack.
Note: Starting NFL tackles will almost never make it this easy to get a sack.
Sack 7 - Third quarter 1:52 - Cavon Walker/Abdullah Anderson
Yet another “Cheap” sack. This was all made possible by John Timu blitzing through the B-gap. Thankfully for Walker and Anderson, Timu was completely out of control when he reached the quarterback, or else he would have his name up here with a legitimate sack.
Note: This is part of the effectiveness of blitzing. Sometimes other players will benefit and not the blitzer themselves.
Sack 8 - Fourth quarter 7:02 - Bilal Nichols
This would be a “sacks happen” if it went the other way. The Ravens elected not to block Andrew Trumbetti and Nichols beating the right tackle quickly makes this a jail break situation. Given the athleticism of Lamar Jackson, I am not sure that Nichols gets this sack without the presence of Trumbetti, but I can’t prove that. So we will give this one to Nichols.
At Cincinatti Bengals
Sack 9 - Third quarter 4:14 - Roy Robertson-Harris
That Robertson-Harris bull rush again rearing it’s ugly head. He does an excellent job of using his length, then getting inside here. This is something to watch this year as he is one of the few actual contributors who produced in the preseason.
At Denver Broncos
Sack 10 - Second quarter 12:43 - Roy Robertson-Harris
Here is that patented bull rush from the other side. From this vantage point, you can see that Robertson-Harris starts this rush to the outside shoulder, all the while planning to go back inside. Seriously, if this is now a part of Robertson-Harris’ game, that is a huge development for the pass rush and for the Bears overall. Credit Robertson-Harris and defensive line coach Jay Rodgers for getting him to this point. He had an impressive preseason.
Sack 11 - Third quarter 10:41 - Bilal Nichols
This is another out-of-bounds “Cheap” sack ... or is it? Nichols beats his man off the snap with a good hand swipe, followed by an outside dip and rip move. This is a really nice play, one that Nichols has shown a few times this preseason. A promising young player.
Sack 12 - Fourth quarter 10:33 - Roy Robertson-Harris/John Jenkins
Robertson-Harris and Jenkins share this sack, but this is more of a “Coverage” sack than anything else. Nichols and Robertson-Harris are the guys who got the initial penetration and forced Paxton Lynch to make a poor decision by stepping up. Another example of Robertson-Harris’ newfound bull rush move.
Sack 13 - Fourth quarter 9:19 - Kasim Edebali
A really poor effort by the right tackle here. Instead of starting his pass set by kick-stepping, he takes a normal step backwards. Give some credit to Edebali for dipping, bending the edge, and making the play. But this was on the right tackle.
Note: This is how small the margin of error is at the NFL level. One false step and your quarterback is sacked at the top of his drop.
Vs. Kansas City Chiefs
Sack 14 - Third quarter 7:45 - Isaiah Irving
This is truly a “Coverage” sack. Vic Fangio does a nice job of shutting down the pass this close to the goal line. Irving eventually beats the left tackle, sort of. Patrick Mahomes pretty much sacks himself on this one, so I have to give this a “Coverage” label.
Sack 15 - Fourth quarter 11:26 - Kylie Fitts
Fitts has been guilty of not finishing on multiple occasions this preseason, and here was almost another example. Fitts uses his speed to get the leverage and angle on the right tackle. A quick dip and rip move, and he’s in the backfield. Luckily, Fitts was able to corral Chase Litton on this play.
Note: This is what separates the elite pass rushers from mortal ones. Notice the bend that Fitts gets here, guys like Mack or Von Miller can turn that corner without rounding it off.
Vs. Buffalo Bills
Sack 16 - First quarter 3:11 - Cavon Walker
An excellent inside swim move by Walker, and a crucial move for any interior defensive lineman to learn and master. After getting into the backfield, Walker does a great job of being under control—using choppy steps—and being able to finish.
Sack 17 - Second quarter 14:24 - Jonathon Mincy
A staple of Fangio’s defense since he’s been with the Bears has been the nickel blitz. Here we have Mincy utilizing this blitz to perfection. Once again, the thing to notice—especially with free rushers—is how under control they are. Mincy does that well here.
Sack 18 - Fourth quarter 5:20 - Abdullah Anderson
Again, without the aid of All-22, it is difficult to surmise what happened here. I am going to go ahead and say that this is a “Coverage” sack since none of the rushers beat their man at any point on this play.
Sack 19 - Fourth quarter 3:04 - Kylie Fitts/Bilal Nichols
Fitts comes unblocked at the top of the screen, but Nichols does an excellent job. He has some pass rush juice, which is nice to see from the fifth-round pick. This angle isn’t good, but if you can key on Nichols on this play, he completely collapses the pocket and likely gets this sack without help from Fitts.
Sack 20 - Fourth quarter 2:31 - Bilal Nichols
Nichols uses a swim move to quickly dispatch the right guard. Something that I was impressed with about Nichols from Day 1 is that he always seems to have a plan. That isn’t something that most rookies come in doing.
Here’s how I have the individual* Rush Report after the 2018 preseason.
Coverage Sacks - 4
Bilal Nichols - 3.5
Roy Robertson-Harris - 3
Kylie Fitts - 2.5
Cheap Sacks - 2
Isaiah Irving - 1
Elijah Norris - 1
Cavon Walker - 1
Kasim Edebali - 1
Jonathon Mincy - 1
*These numbers do not reflect a players official statistics.