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Chicago Bears Sackwatch 2021: Week 13 vs Arizona Cardinals

The Bears allowed three more sacks, but the pass protection wasn’t too shabby on the day. The Cardinals just played some darn good defense.

Arizona Cardinals v Chicago Bears Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images

Three more sacks given up by the Chicago Bears last Sunday which brings them up to 40 allowed this season, but they no longer lead the league in that category as the Baltimore Ravens are on top of that unfortunate list with 43. The Bears are still sacked at the highest rate in the league at 10.2%, but the Seattle Seahawks are close behind at 9.9% with Baltimore in third at 9.2%.

Chicago’s next opponent, the Green Bay Packers on Sunday Night Football, is just 22nd in the league in pressure percentage, but they are hopeful they could activate Za’Darius Smith, their top pass rusher, off of injured reserve for this Sunday. But even without Smith, the Pack racked up 4 sacks back when they played the Bears in week 6 at Soldier Field. Chicago’s pass protection and o-line has stabilized some since the last time they played, so hopefully then can keep the Sackwatch trending away from that awful 2010 number.

Here’s the historical Sackwatch after 12 games:

2010 - 45 Martz
2011 - 34 Martz
2012 - 36 Tice
2013 - 21 Trestman
2014 - 30 Trestman
2015 - 20 Gase
2016 - 23 - Loggains
2017 - 29 - Loggains
2018 - 28 Nagy
2019 - 33 Nagy
2020 - 30 Nagy
2021 - 40 Nagy

And now on to the main event!

Sack 38 - First Quarter 7:44 - Jordan Hicks
Jordan Hicks had a fantastic game and was named the NFC Defensive Player of the Week after filling the stat sheet against Chicago’s offense. He had 13 tackles, 2 tackles for loss, and 2 sacks on the afternoon. He was credited with this first sack, but it was just of the clean-up variety as he came in to bring Dalton down when he tried to scramble up through the pocket.

This play is one those odd statistical quirks that annoy me, because a sack is a play where the quarterback is tackled behind the line of scrimmage on a passing play, and this play is technically in the books as a sack for a 0 yards. If the tackle didn’t occur behind the line, but at the line — thus no loss in yardage — then how is that a sack? This should count as a 0 yard scramble, however the NFL clearly likes their sexy sack stat.

I get it, but I certainly don’t like it.

Here’s the play.

Dalton has pressure at his feet in about 2 seconds, so he squirts up to try and escape, but if he would have had a split second longer he could have hit wide out Jakeem Grant (#17) who ran an option route from the backfield. Grant pops open but at that point Dalton is already in scramble mode.

The reason Dalton is forced to move was the whiff by right guard James Daniels on defensive tackle Jordan Phillips (#97). Daniels jumps out to cut off the b-gap, but when Phillips slaps Daniels outside arm down he has a path to turn the corner. Daniels’ feet stop, and he can’t cut Phillips off. Center Sam Mustipher tries to help out, but his first responsibility in this five-man protection was checking the linebacker and by the time he came down the line Phillips was already loose.

Even though Dalton escaped, I have to hit Daniels with some blame on this one, so I’ll split the sack allowed between him and sacks happen.

While Daniels looked bad on this play, I though he was solid in the game. I graded his entire afternoon on offense and on 76 plays I had him down for an 86.8% (+66/-10). I talked a bit more about Daniels on our latest Bear & Balanced podcast, so if you missed it click here to listen.

Sack 39 - Second Quarter 4:54 - Byron Murphy and Chandler Jones
The Bears go play action on this second and 8 play, and Dalton has no where to go with the ball. The Cardinals did a nice job in rotating their coverage after blitzing their inside corner off Chicago’s left side (Byron Murphy, #7), but running back David Montgomery was there to pick it up. With no viable passing lane, Dalton tried to navigate up through the pocket.

Dalton had some time to scan the field at the top of his drop, and if he would have stayed there a second longer he may have been able to chuck it deep over the middle, but it would have been a risky pass. He also could have tried to throw it away down the left sideline, but the veteran QB tried to make a play. Once he stepped up Montgomery lost leverage and Murphy got half a sack. The other half went to Chandler Jones (#55) who slipped the block from left tackle Jason Peters, but just like with Montgomery, Peters lost leverage and Dalton ran into Jones.

The pass pro held up for enough time here, but Arizona’s secondary did their jobs. Dalton’s internal clock told him to escape, and he came up 1 yard short of the line of scrimmage. I’ll go sacks happen on this one too.

Sack 40 - Fourth Quarter 12:30 - Jordan Hicks
Hicks again here, and he’s now the 11th player the Bears have faced this year that finished the game with more than a sack. The only team that didn’t have a single defender rack up multiple sacks was the Lions (twice).

This was just a beautifully timed blitz from Hicks, as they rushed 7 against 7 blockers from the Bears. Both running back Khalil Herbert and tight end Cole Kmet stayed in on the left side, and they had three receivers lined up to the right. Dalton’s only reads on this play were the trips, but the Cardinals had them all bottled up. It happens off screen from this GIF, but trust me, Dalton has no where to go.

Hicks was either delaying his blitz to read the blockers, or his rule was to come if Herbert stayed in to block. Either way, the results were the same. Hicks’ hesitation drew Herbert to the edge blitz, Kmet was occupied, Peters at left tackle was pulled inside, and the path was opened up for Hicks to get his second sack. Left guard Cody Whitehair squeezed the A-Gap, probably because the Bears didn’t expect Arizona to send all 4 threats from the left side, but also because the linebacker over the nose came into him.

Arizona essentially schemed up 5 pass rushers against Whitehair, Peters, Kmet, and Herbert, and they executed it perfectly.

This was a third and 5, and the Cards were showing man, so a crisscross with a pick action probably could have freed up a quicker outlet for Dalton. But as you can see in this GIF, Dalton didn’t have a chance on this play. This is another in the sacks happen category.

Here’s the individual 2021 Sackwatch tally after 12 games:

Sacks happen - 10.5
Justin Fields - 7
Jason Peters - 6
Cody Whitehair - 3.5
Germain Ifedi - 3
James Daniels - 3
Lachavious Simmons - 2
Larry Borom - 1.5
Alex Bars - 1
Khalil Herbert - 1
Andy Dalton - .5
Sam Mustipher - .5
Cole Kmet - .5

Also a shout out and a thank you to @NagyToCFL for helping me out with the All-22 this week. Who ever runs the NFL’s Game Pass sits on a throne of lies.