Chicago Bears offensive coordinator Luke Getsy was very concerned with the Minnesota Vikings blitz, so he wanted to get the ball out quickly and stress them horizontally with some bubble screens. That's not a bad idea in moderation and mixed in with some other quick-hitting plays, but it seems like every drive featured Justin Fields turning to throw outside and behind the line of scrimmage.
ESPN's Courtney Cronin Tweeted out that Fields threw 13 screen passes, which resulted in his lowest air yards per attempt (2.4) and lowest air yards per completion (1.9) of his career, and that his 21 passes thrown at or behind the line of scrimmage was the most in the NFL since 2020.
While Chicago's pass protection allowed three sacks, Fields did a nice job of evading a few others.
Had Getsy not been so predictable and called the occasional slant, more play action, some moving pockets, RPOs, or maybe a tap pass on jet action (or a jet sweep), then perhaps the Bears could have found the end zone.
Sack 33 - 1st Quarter 7:18 - Ivan Pace
Rookie Roschon Johnson received the bulk of the playing time at running back in Minnesota because he's better in blitz pick-up than Khalil Herbert... but he whiffed on this one.
Rookie linebacker Ivan Pace flew around the right edge, and he beat Johnson to the outside. Fields was trying to fake a handoff, but he recognized the blitz and pulled the ball back to set for a throw. Johnson's momentum had him out of position for the hard-charging Pace, and Fields had no hot route on this play. This was an eight-man protection, and one guy missed his block.
Sack 34 - 1st Quarter 2:56 - Josh Metellus and Danielle Hunter
Chicago's blocking schemes have left me scratching my head on numerous occasions this season, and I had to watch this one from all angles before realizing that... I still have no idea what happened.
Leaving a 6'3", 290-pound defensive lineman unblocked (Johnathan Bullard, #90) seems like a bad idea. He's lined up in the c-gap between right tackle Darnell Wright and tight end Marcedes Lewis.
Lewis seems to check his inside gap for a split second before turning his attention to the outside edge rusher.
Wright takes the man to his inside, with the right guard Nate Davis also controlling his inside gap.
Running back Khalil Herbert comes across the formation (right to left) to pick up the free blitzer outside left tackle Braxton Jones.
As soon as Fields readies to throw, he feels the unblocked Bullard. I have no idea why Bullard hesitated on this play, but he was probably just surprised no one blocked him.
I'm giving this a sacks happen because I don't know who made the mistake, and I don't know their pass pro rules want facing this look, but it's a seven-man protection, so no one should have been free.
Did Lewis miss a call and was supposed to slide left? If so, that would have left a free rusher off the edge. Was the O-line supposed to split? If Davis stays home and Wright takes his outside gap, they get Bullard, but for both to misinterpret a call seems like a long shot. Did center Lucas Patrick call it wrong? Was Herbert supposed to stay on the right?
So much suck on this play.
Sack 35 - 4th Quarter 9:53 - Danielle Hunter
This one wasn't blocked the cleanest, but Fields could have hung in there a split second longer. He saw a crease and wanted to take off, but he got hung up and fumbled the ball.
Maybe he was jittery because this was a similar blitz look from the first sack that Roschon allowed, but regardless, this is on Fields.
Here's the individual Sackwatch tally after twelve games:
Justin Fields - 11
Sacks Happen - 8
Darnell Wright - 4.5
Cody Whitehair - 2
Ja'Tyre Carter - 2
Braxton Jones - 2
Larry Borom - 2
Khari Blasingame - 1
Teven Jenkins - 1
Roschon Johnson - 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.
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
2022 - 42 Getsy
2023 - 35 Getsy
Thanks to all of you guys who check out Sackwatch each week!