With seven sacks allowed by the Chicago Bears to break down, plus the the Black Monday news buzzing, I had to push Sackwatch off my usual Wednesday publishing deadline. So for the dozens and dozens of you that are regular readers, I apologize in case you were looking for your weekly pass protection fix. I’m also excited to let you guys know that I’ll be teaming up with Jeff Berckes for a special year end Sackwatch where he’ll be taking all the final sacks allowed numbers I’ve done and building a graphic to show where the blame lied throughout my years on doing this column.
As for the 2021 season finale, that was a brutal way to go out, and here’s how the total Sackwatch has ended up after each season going back to the Mike Martz era. Since this was the first time with the new 17 game season*, I wanted to add some perspective by showing the sack percentage from each year.
2010 - 56 Mike Martz (10.7%)
2011 - 49 Mike Martz (9.4%)
2012 - 45 Mike Tice (8.3%)
2013 - 30 Marc Trestman (4.9%)
2014 - 41 Marc Trestman (6.3%)
2015 - 33 Adam Gase (5.9%)
2016 - 27 Dowell Loggains (4.8%)
2017 - 39 Dowell Loggains (7.6%)
2018 - 33 Matt Nagy (6.1%)
2019 - 45 Matt Nagy (7.2%)
2020 - 36 Matt Nagy (5.5%)
*2021 - 58 Nagy/Lazor (9.7%)
For the mathematically challenged, sack percentage is Times Sacked / (Passes attempted + Times Sacked) and that gives you the percentage of sacks per drop back.
The most sacks the Bears have even given up in one season was 66 (12.9%) in 2004, which was a Terry Shea coordinated offense in Lovie Smith’s first year as head coach, and this year’s 58 is the second most sacks they’ve ever allowed. With a rookie QB I expected that number to increase from a season ago, but there were far too many instances where the team seemed unprepared to combat a pass rush.
The new regime better make pass protection a priority, and I’m not just talking about bolstering up the offensive line. They need to coach up the quarterbacks, the running backs, and tights ends, and build a better scheme around what to do when facing pressure. There were far too many instances in the Nagy era where the hot read/outlet was non existent either due to coach or player error.
Let’s get down to the nitty-gritty...
Sack 52 - First Quarter 6:03 - D.J. Wonnum
The Bears went for it on fourth down and 5 from the Minnesota 35 yard line, and this is one of those instances where the offense just wasn’t prepared for what the Minnesota Vikings were doing defensively. The Vikes brought a couple blitzers through the interior, and the Bears didn’t have the offense set up to block them. With Chicago’s center, right guard, and right tackle all occupied, and the running back lined up to the left, that meant a free blitzing linebacker was coming through the right B-Gap. But watch how quickly left tackle Jason Peters and right tackle Larry Borom were beat on this. Woof.
Minnesota had three guys in the backfield before QB Andy Dalton was even able to settle after his drop back, but it was the B-Gap blitz from the right that caused him to flee. If the interior pressure isn’t on him so fast, he probably has the fraction of a second he needs to hit Damiere Byrd on the crossing route from his WR1 trips alignment.
The Vikings were showing they were rushing 6, and with David Montgomery staying in to block the Bears should have been able to pick this up. As for where the blame lies... This is a tough one.
It looks like the interior of the offensive line was instructed to block left, because right guard James Daniels takes his inside gap, center Sam Mustipher looks to his left, and left guard Cody Whitehair also looked left (and to the blitzer). With running back David Montgomery on the left the interior all should have slid right. If they slide right then Daniels gets the B-Gap blitzer, Mustipher takes the defensive tackle to his right, Whitehair takes the DT on his side, and D-Mo gets the blitzer through the left B-Gap.
Ultimately it’s on the veteran QB to either make sure his line is sliding the correct way or to tell his running back to block right instead of left, so even with the woof-level blocks from Chicago’s tackles (and Wonnum beats Peters for the sack), I’m giving this one to Dalton.
Sack 53 - Second Quarter 12:00 - Anthony Barr
Ugh, the dreaded 0 yard sack. Dalton could have hung tight in the pocket just a split second longer, but he saw all that green to his left. Ten years ago Dalton probably picks up a few yards, but this version of Dalton only got back to the line of scrimmage.
If Dalton gains just a few inches this would be in the books as a scramble and not a sack, so I could put this in the sacks happen category, but Dalton didn’t have to run when he ran.
I’m pinning this one on his too.
Sack 54 - Second Quarter 10:38 - D.J. Wonnum
Another fourth down and another sack by Wonnum, but he gets this sack on his hustle, so I can’t fault Peters. Dalton gets to the top of his drop and he has no where to go with the ball because of the personnel and scheme. I love the route concept to the left with the inside receiver (Cole Kmet) running a return route, and the outside receiver giving a natural pick on a crosser, but Kmet isn’t fast enough to beat his man, and the pick wasn’t effective.
The pass pro holds long enough on this play, but the route concept on the right side is ugly. There could have been a window to throw to tight end Jesse James, who posts up around the 5-yard line, but there’s a curl route in front of him that places a defender in the passing lane.
I’ll go sacks happen this time.
Sack 55 - Third Quarter 7:55 - Anthony Barr
Yep, another fourth and 1, and Barr got home for his second sack of the day on this one. He got through the line clean, but the Bears had Montgomery there to pick him up. Dalton has only one viable option on this play, and that was to hit his tight end J.P. Holtz who had the inside position in the end zone after coming in motion.
Dalton simply can not take a sack in this situation. An incomplete pass, while a turnover on downs, still keeps the Vikings offense operating out of their end zone. So if he wasn’t comfortable with trying to hit any of his receivers he should have fired it away to play the field position game.
Another on the Red Rifle.
Sack 56 - Fourth Quarter 11:41 - Dalvin Tomlinson
This is an easy one, left guard Cody Whitehair got caught lunging and didn’t have the balance to cut Tomlinson off from going inside.
While you’re here, take a look at left tackle Teven Jenkins. He delivers a forceful punch while maintaining good position on his man.
Sack 57 - Fourth Quarter 2:51 - Kenny Willekes
Dalton has running back Damien Williams wide open to his right, he cocks his arm to throw but then pulls it back for some reason. Maybe he didn’t trust that Williams would turn around when he did, but that was the play he should have made. This is another on Dalton.
Willekes (#79) is able to slip Borom’s block at right tackle, but that ball should have been out.
Sack 58 - Fourth Quarter 2:00 - Kenny Willekes
Another sack here from Willekes which makes him the third Viking to rack up two sacks against the Bears on the season finale (more on that later), and he wins with a hump move back to the inside. He forces Borom to respect his speed rush before grabbing Borom’s inside shoulder and pushing him upfield and slipping back under the block.
Borom overset on this in anticipation of the speed rush, and him being too anxious to cut off the edge gave Willekes a path to Dalton. This one is on Chicago’s rookie right tackle.
Here’s the final 2021 Sackwatch tally after 17 games.
Sacks happen - 12.5
Justin Fields - 9
Jason Peters - 6
Andy Dalton - 5.5
Cody Whitehair - 4.5
James Daniels - 4
Larry Borom - 3.5
Germain Ifedi - 3
Lachavious Simmons - 2
Teven Jenkins - 2
Sam Mustipher - 1.5
David Montgomery - 1
Alex Bars - 1
Khalil Herbert - 1
Nick Foles - 1
Cole Kmet - .5
This last stat is fascinating probably just to me, but here’s the full list of defenders that sacked a Bear QB more than once this season along with their sack total from that game.
Week 1 - Rams: Justin Hollins, 2 sacks
Week 2 - Bengals: Trey Hendrickson, 1.5
Week 3 - Browns: Myles Garrett, 4.5
Week 3 - Browns: Jadeveon Clowney, 2
Week 5 - Raiders: Yannick Ngakoue, 2
Week 6 - Packers: Kenny Clark, 2
Week 7 - Buccaneers: Jason Pierre-Paul, 2
Week 8 - 49ers: Nick Bosa, 2
Week 9 - Steelers: T.J. Watt, 3
Week 11 - Ravens: Tyus Bowser, 2
Week 13 - Cardinals: Jordan Hicks, 2
Week 14 - Packers: Preston Smith, 2
Week 15 - Vikings: D. J. Wonnum, 3
Week 16 - Seahawks: Rasheem Green, 2
Week 16 - Seahawks: Carlos Dunlap II 2
Week 18 - Vikings: D. J. Wonnum, 2
Week 18 - Vikings: Anthony Barr, 2
Week 18 - Vikings: Kenny Willekes, 2
The only teams that didn’t have a defender that had more than one sack was the Lions twice and the Giants.