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Chicago Bears Sackwatch 2023: Bye Week Check-In

Let’s see where the Bears rank in sacks allowed with five games remaining on the schedule...

Chicago Bears vs Detroit Lions Photo by Amy Lemus/NurPhoto via Getty Images

The Chicago Bears have allowed 35 sacks through 12 games this season, which is a bit behind last year's horrendous near-record-setting pace. The most sacks allowed in a single Bears season happened in 2004, when they gave up 66. Last year's 58 sacks allowed was second all-time, which tied how many they gave up in 2021.

In 2010, Mike Martz's first year in Chicago, the Bears gave up 56, and rounding out the top five most sacks allowed years in team history, they gave up 55 in 1969.

The main culprit on this season's Sackwatch thus far has been quarterback Justin Fields with 11, but if you're looking for a silver lining, his sack percentage of 11.6% is a career-best. He still needs to find a way to avoid some unnecessary sacks, but he's also able to evade others that some QBs can't, and his elusiveness as a runner can stress a defense.

Plus, his big-play ability is a necessity in today's NFL, and when Luke Getsy isn't dialing up a dozen screen passes, he provides that threat. I understand wanting him to play the point guard role and distribute the ball into the playmaker's hands, but Getsy has had Fields going to shorter routes each season.

Fields has shown a willingness to go deep when the opportunity arises, but some of those opportunities have either been schemed out or coached out.

If Getsy has concerns about his pass protection holding up to call longer developing plays, then he needs to stop calling so many straight dropbacks without max protection. Get him out of the pocket. Call more play action. Lean into the strengths of the players on the offense and build off what worked a season ago.

But back to the sacks...

In the two games since returning from his thumb injury, his sack percentage has been lower than in any other games this season: 8% against the Lions and 7.5% in Minnesota.

The two games that really skew his yearly sack percentage were week 2 in Tampa Bay (6 sacks, 17.14%) and the first Vikings game (4 sacks, 28.57%).

As far as backup QB Tyson Bagent, he was good at getting the ball out quickly in the games he played, and while it was good for sack avoidance, it didn't lead to many explosive plays. I went more in-depth on Bagent's time in the offense a few weeks ago here.

The composite of three popular pass-blocking grades/analytics have the Bears at 20th overall, but when watching film, I think there's a deeper reason for some of their issues.

In my opinion, the individual pass blockers on the Bears have performed better than some of those numbers would indicate. I would assign some of the blame on the pressure allowed on odd schematic decisions. I see confounding blocking schemes in the run game at times, too. I'm not sure if this is a Getsy thing, an o-line coach Chris Morgan thing, or if the players just go into business for themselves on occasion.

When it comes to winning one-on-one pass blocking reps, I've been pleased with what Braxton Jones, Darnell Wright, Teven Jenkins, and Nate Davis have all done. Wright has the occasional rookie moment, but he's looked the part of a top-ten draft pick. Chicago's centers are where an upgrade is needed for 2024, but Lucas Patrick has performed better than Cody Whitehair.

I suggest checking out the work of Quinten Krzysko to get another perspective on the offensive line play of the Bears. He's one of my favorite follows on Twitter (@ButkusStats) and does good work for On Tap Sports.

Roschon Johnson has done an admirable job in pass pro. Khalil Herbert looks better than last year, but D'Onta Foreman's issues as a pass blocker continue. The tight ends, when asked to pass block, have also been decent this season.

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!