Justin Fields took three sacks last Thursday aganst a talented Washington Commanders defensive front, but all things considered, I felt this was one of the better overall performances from the Chicago Bears' pass protection in some time.
There were several instances in the game where Fields had a completely clean pocket with everyone doing their job. A handful of other times, Fields did a nice job of evading sacks by throwing the ball away.
Fields has settled in the last two weeks, offensive coordinator Luke Getsy has had a nice flow to his play calls, and the offensive line is starting to gel. The Bears got Teven Jenkins back for the Commanders, and he showed why he's their most talented lineman. They rotated him in at left guard, but when he was in, he was damn good.
At right guard, Nate Davis is starting to play like the guy Chicago signed to a big contract. He was in and out of the lineup after being away to tend to his ailing mother and her passing on September 17.
Cody Whitehair was forced to play center with Lucas Patrick exiting the game with a concussion, but Cody playing center was the plan all along. Hopefully, with a week to prepare for the position, his shotgun snaps will become more consistent.
Right tackle Darnell Wright had some rookie moments, but his overall play through five games has been good. The Bears have trusted him on an island most of this season.
Larry Borom struggled at left tackle, but regular starter Braxton Jones may return in a couple of weeks. Borom is a serviceable reserve, so if the scheme is only concerned with helping one guy, that's something the Bears can work around.
Sack 18 - 1st Quarter 12:52 - Montez Sweat
The Commanders start first-round draft picks at all four defensive line positions, and free-agent-to-be Montez Sweat beat Chicago's rookie on this one.
Sweat hit Wright with a stutter step, he engaged and then shucked him off balance before working around the edge. It looks like Wright was guessing that a bull rush was coming, so as he braced for a power move, Sweat used the leverage to get by for the sack.
Wright may have allowed the sack here, but he had a very good game, so check out this quick breakdown from Brian Baldinger.
Sack 19 - 2nd Quarter 4:03 - Montez Sweat and Chase Young
The stat sheet shows a sack on this play, but just like one of the sacks last week, there's a chance this was a designed run. The Bears come out in an empty set, and it seems like there's a quarterback draw, or an option for a draw, called here. Fields turns to make a quick pump fake to his running back darting to the right flat, but then he immediately looks to run upfield.
But Fields has nowhere to run because Washington's other defensive end, and another potential 2024 free agent, Chase Young, beat Borom with an inside move and got in Fields' way. The Commanders also had a linebacker spy on Fields here. If Young doesn't muck up this play, I like Fields' chances one-on-one in the open field against a linebacker.
Since I don't know for sure if this was a designed option for Fields to run, or if Fields just read the sole defender in the middle of the field and liked his chances, I'm calling this a Sacks Happen.
Sack 20 - 3rd Quarter 8:44 - Jonathan Allen
This was the first play following the Terell Smith strip and fumble recovery, and with the score 27 to 11 Bears, Washington came out with an aggressive 46 look on defense. They had three defensive tackles in the game with two stand up defensive ends on the edges, and all five were rushing on this play. The Bears had both tight ends chipping on the defensive ends before releasing, and it was the interior pressure that got home on this play.
Fields gets to the top of his drop, has nowhere to go, and then wants to climb the pocket, as he should. Jonathan Allen gets the sack after working against left guard Ja'Tyre Caretr, but he was initially moved off his spot by John Ridgeway III (#91), who shook free off the block from Whitehair.
If Fields would have had a tick more time, he could have hit Kmet to his right. He loads up to throw but had to shake Ridegway, and then Allen immediately got him. It was a bang-bang play, and since it was Carter's guy who got the sack, I'm giving this sack allowed to him.
Allen violently slammed Fields to the ground on this sack, and I feel we've seen similar plays in the NFL get flagged.
Here's the individual Sackwatch tally after five games:
Justin Fields - 7
Sacks Happen - 3
Darnell Wright - 2.5
Ja'Tyre Carter - 2
Braxton Jones - 2
Larry Borom - 1
Cody Whitehair - 1
Khari Blasingame - 1
Cole Kmet - .5
As I've often said, the breakdowns are based on my best guesses on what is happening in each play. Only the Bears know the specifics and where the blame truly lies for each sack allowed.
And here are the total Bears' sacks allowed through Week 5 in the Sackwatch era:
2010 - 21 Martz
2011 - 18 Martz
2012 - 14 Tice
2013 - 9 Trestman
2014 - 12 Trestman
2015 - 11 Gase
2016 - 11 Loggains
2017 - 9 Loggains
2018 - 12 Nagy
2019 - 13 Nagy
2020 - 11 Nagy
2021 - 18 Nagy
2022 - 18 Getsy
2023 - 20 Getsy