Move along, nothing to see here...
No, really, because for the first time this season, and for the first time in Mitchell Trubisky’s professional career, he wasn’t sacked in a game.
There was that one play that was erased by a penalty, but technically the Chicago Bears pass protection allowed zero sacks and only one quarterback hit against the Minnesota Vikings. A Vikings team that was leading the NFL with the most sacks through 16 games (50), ended up tied with the Bears behind the Chiefs and Steelers who had 42 each.
But back to the Bears’ pass protection; In two games this year against the ferocious pass rush of the Vikings, the Bears pass pro only allowed 1 sack and 3 QB hits. It was a brilliant all around effort by Chicago.
Sackwatch after 16 games
2010 - 56 Mike Martz
2011 - 49 Mike Martz
2012 - 45 Mike Tice
2013 - 30 Marc Trestman
2014 - 41 Marc Trestman
2015 - 33 Adam Gase
2016 - 27 Dowell Loggains
2017 - 39 Dowell Loggains
2018 - 33 Nagy
As a team, the 2018 Bears were sacked 6.1% of the time, which is an improvement over last year’s 7.6%. Trubisky improved his sack percentage from 8.6% as a rookie to 5.2% this season. His feel for the pocket has been one of the biggest improvements I’ve seen in his play from last year to 2018. His pocket awareness got better as this season wore on and as he gained comfort in Matt Nagy’s system.
As Trubisky’s trust in his surroundings increased his sacks went down. He played 14 games this year, and in the first seven games he was sacked 16 times. In the last seven games he was sacked only 8 times. His passing attempts were higher by about 6 per game in the first half of 2018, but that’s not the only reason for the improvement.
There’s no disputing that he’s a better player now than he was then.
For a little more on Trubisky’s growth this year, be sure to check out this Twitter thread from long time WCG member Jonathan Wood.
Did a little work using next gen stats to look at how Trubisky's approach has changed throughout the season. Gonna have several thoughts following the table below, which groups into 3 clearly distinct categories. First 3 games, last 3 games, and the 8 in between. pic.twitter.com/6u9p8teACW— Johnathan Wood (@Johnathan_Wood1) December 31, 2018
That’s the top Tweet, so click on it for his entire thread.
Chicago’s pass protection was a group effort this year with no one aspect being more important than the other. Nagy’s play calling and scheming and Trubisky’s growth were huge, but the offensive line was good all season and o-line coach Harry Hiestand did a masterful job in working through changes at both guard spots. The blitz pickups by the running backs, especially Jordan Howard, kept many plays alive.
I’ll go out on a limb here and predict that the my 2019 Sackwatch will be my smallest one yet.
Final 2018 Individual Sackwatch:
Sacks Happen - 12.5
Mitchell Trubisky - 6
Charles Leno Jr. - 4
Bobby Massie - 3
Kyle Long - 2
Chase Daniel - 2
Bryan Witzmann - 1.5
Cody Whitehair - 1
Dion Sims - .5
Eric Kush - .5