Last year’s week 6 the Chicago Bears played the Carolina Panthers, and they didn't allow a single sack with the immobile Nick Foles under center and with the now unemployed Rashaad Coward starting on their offensive line. Foles dealt with several o-line shuffles during his 7 starts in 2020, yet he still managed a respectable sack percentage during his time playing for the Bears. There were 36 quarterbacks last year that played enough to qualify for the leaderboard, and Foles’ ranked 17th among them with a sack percentage of 5.5.
So far this season the Bears lead the league with 22 times being sacked, and they lead the league in sack percentage at 12.9 as well.
The historical numbers throughout the league tell us that younger quarterbacks tend to take more sacks than veterans, and mobile quarterbacks tend to take more sacks than pocket passers. I know the second part of that statement blows away those of you that equate athleticism with avoiding sacks, but while athletic QBs can avoid some sacks, they also run themselves into plenty of others.
Pass protection may start up front with the offensive line, but it truly is a a team effort. Here’s how I had it against the Green Bay Packers this week.
Sack 19 - 2nd Quarter 9:04 - Jonathan Garvin
This is the play that head coach Matt Nagy talked about in his press conference on Monday morning. Justin Fields dropped back, he didn’t like what he saw, and some late pressure from his right forced him left. He kept his eyes downfield, but no receiver presented themselves for a pass attempt.
Fields ends up getting sacked by a hustling Jonathan Garvin, but then Garvin rolled with Fields for a little extra oomph on the tackle. Since Fields was out of the pocket he could have saved himself the hit, and the loss in yards, with a simple chuck out of bounds.
Sure the play only resulted in a loss of 4, but it also ended up with Fields taking an unnecessary hit. This is an instance where most veteran quarterbacks just realize there’s no one open and flip the ball out of bounds, so since this sack could have been avoided, it’s on Fields.
Sack 20 - 2nd Quarter :25 - Dean Lowry
This was a third and 13 from the Packer 38 yard line, so the Bears only needed a few yards to get into Cairo Santos’ range for a field goal. Losing 5 yards on a delay of game the play before hurt, but not as much as this ten yard loss did. This was the play where Fields nearly escaped, but his elbow touched down, so the refs blew it dead.
If left guard Cody Whitehair wasn’t bull-rushed back five yards, Fields may have had time to look for his wide out down the right sideline working back on the comeback, or to either flat for a check down, but Dean Lowry reached his paw out and grabbed Fields down. If Whitehair holds his guy for just a split second more the ball could have been rifled out to the receiver breaking back at the 20 yard line. While I’m not happy with the overall design of this play in this situation (someone shallow over the middle of the field gets them a field goal try), I’m pinning this one on Whitehair for getting beat so quickly.
Sack 21 - 4th Quarter 3:39 - Kenny Clark
The Bears were moving the ball and they had a first and 10 from Green Bay’s 32 yard line before Kenny Clark happened. Clark is one of the best defensive tackles in the business and he had an outstanding game on Sunday no matter who he was lined up over. Clark’s play was a big reason I graded center Sam Mustipher out with a -14/+47 on the day.
On this play you’ll notice Fields set to throw at the top of his drop while looking to his left. On the next All-22 view you’ll see that he had Darnell Mooney on a quick 5 yard curl with the Packer defender giving a big cushion. I’m not sure why Fields didn’t immediately fire the ball to his wide out, but his hesitation set the table for Clark’s sack.
Maybe Fields was expecting a double move from Mooney, maybe he wanted to work back to the angle route from running back Khalil Harbert, or maybe he caught Clark out of the corner of his eye and got spooked. Who knows? Since there was a quick play to be made to Mooney I got to ding Fields on this one, but since Whitehair got worked in about 2 seconds I got to ding him as well. I’m splitting this sack allowed.
Sack 22 - 4th Quarter 3:02 - Kenny Clark
This time it was a third and 15 from the 37 yard line, which was a similar situation as the second sack allowed. They just needed to get a few yards to give Santos a chance at a field goal. The Bears were down 10 at this point in the game, they still had all their time outs, so a try for 3 should have been in the cards.
This was also the play that Greg Olsen drew up on the FOX telestrator (check out the snip) showing that all the routes were very long developing. The Bears do have a tight end leak out late to the right, but even he has his back to Fields and the Packer defender is right there when he looks back for the ball.
This was another situation where something short could have given them a chance at points, or at the very least got them into a manageable fourth down situation. The Bears didn’t have anyone work shallow over the middle, which is usually a soft spot in these situations.
Considering the game situation I feel I should put some of this one on the play call itself. But Fields escaped the initial pressure that came when left tackle Jason Peters gave it up, and instead of throwing the ball away to save the loss, or decisively darting to the sideline to scramble for some yards, Fields held on to the ball and ends up getting tripped by Clark. I’m going half on Fields and half on Sacks Happen.
Here’s the individual 2021 Sackwatch tally after 6 weeks:
Justin Fields - 6
Jason Peters - 4
Cody Whitehair - 3.5
Germain Ifedi - 3
Sacks happen - 3
James Daniels - 1.5
Sam Mustipher - .5
Cole Kmet - .5
And here’s the historical Sackwatch after 6 games:
2010 - 27 Martz
2011 - 19 Martz
2012 - 19 Tice
2013 - 9 Trestman
2014 - 14 Trestman
2015 - 12 Gase
2016 - 12 Loggains
2017 - 13 Loggains
2018 - 14 Nagy
2019 - 15 Nagy
2020 - 11 Nagy
2021 - 22 Nagy