Welcome to my weekly in-season love/hate Chicago Bears column that I've been rage-writing since 2011. This started as a way to explain that not every sack allowed is the fault of the offensive linemen, but it's become the depressing end of my weekly game review. Don't get me wrong, I do enjoy dissecting plays and looking for the reasons a sack occurred, but I've broken down a lot of sacks.
Chicago allowed four to the Green Bay Packers on Sunday afternoon, and sure, four sacks may seem like a lot, but with it equating to a 9.8 sack percentage, that’s actually an improvement over last year’s 14.8% that Justin Fields had.
Now, let's get down to the nitty-gritty!
Sack 1 - 2nd Quarter 9:45 - Lucas Van Ness
There's just so much wrong with this play. Watching it live pissed me off, and now it's pissing me off as I embed this GIF.
Is this a run pass option? It looks like it with the backfield action, but on an RPO, the offensive linemen are run blocking, but on this play, they all pass block. So, a play action with a sprint out? I guess, but there is really only one receiver in the route because the tight end is in half-assed stalk block mode, like it is a running play. The running back sneaks through the line and darts out to the right, but he'd be coming behind the quarterback's rollout, making that a tough throw.
Was it supposed to be a fake handoff, then a straight drop back to work the left side, but the QB went into business for himself on a sprint right? The two receivers on the left side are running routes like they are the primary reads. The slot receiver on that side looks like he's about to run a whip route before realizing the QB ran to the right.
Everything on this play is discombobulated, so it's fitting that Justin Fields runs out of bounds for a seven-yard loss instead of just chucking it out of bounds to keep it third and goal from the four.
This one is on the QB.
For another perspective that is peppered with adult language, check out the breakdown from The QB School's J.T. O'Sullivan.
Sack 2 - 3rd Quarter 10:19 - Devonte Wyatt
The Bears run a bootleg left after a play fake to the right side because they're hoping to get the Packers all flowing toward the running back. The offensive linemen are all supposed to step hard to the right (selling the run) and block whatever crosses their faces. So technically, left tackle Braxton Jones is probably doing what he's coached to do, but... instead, he's doing an impression of a dancing bear as he tra-la-las down the line.
With Devonte Wyatt lined up in the B-gap, Jones should have been aware that he'd have a quick path to his QB if he left him alone. Wyatt has probably seen this boot action a thousand times in practice, and on film, so he patiently comes across through the C-gap and works upfield with his eyes on the quarterback. If Fields had given the ball to the running back, Wyatt isn't chasing the play down anyway, so he just stays home and contains the boot.
The outside linebacker to Jones' left falls for the fake and crashes down the line of scrimmage, so had Braxton got a tiny piece of Wyatt (and it looks like he thought about it for a split second) before continuing on his track to the right, Fields likely rolls left and outruns Wyatt.
Based on the Packers' defensive alignment and Jones giving a token glance at Wyatt before tra-la-la'ing away, I'm giving this sack allowed to Jones.
Before I move on, can we talk about fullback Khari Blasingame split out wide left? You see him pop into the GIF late, so was he supposed to help block any leaked defenders who didn’t fall for the fake?
If so, why split him that far out? Put him on a wing and let him crash down with a block on the first threat that crosses his face. Where he was aligned made him useless on this play.
Sack 3 - 3rd Quarter 5:08 - Kenny Clark and Devonte Wyatt
The Packer d-lineman converge on Fields right at the line of scrimmage, and he loses the football for a 0-yard sack. Had he held onto the ball, he would have fallen forward for a slight gain and no sack.
That's on the QB for the fumble.
Now for the pass protection, it doesn't hold up completely, but look at D.J. Moore at the bottom of the screen. He's open. Fields gets to the top of his drop, sets, and looks to his right. It's hard to tell from this angle, but from behind the play, he's clearly reading the right side. He has the arm to sling this ball, so he has to let it rip.
Sack 4 - 4th Quarter 10:52 - Karl Brooks
Here's another play where he gets to the top of his drop, and the ball should be out. He looks at his receivers; he just doesn't pull the trigger.
The sack comes from defensive tackle Karl Brooks, who was working on left guard Cody Whitehair. It's not a stunt; it's just two d-linemen doing whatever they can to get to the QB. Left tackle Jones takes his man down the line when the Packer tried to sneak inside, and Whitehair tried to push Brooks outside. Maybe he thought Jones would be there, or maybe he just lost leverage. If Whitehair was deeper, there may have been a chance for a late pass-off, but that's only if Jones didn't take his man for a ride.
Regardless of what was happening to Fields' left, this ball should have been thrown.
This game’s offensive All-22 tape was brutal. It wasn’t all on the QB, as there were some schematic things I didn’t understand, but Fields was more bad than good this game, and he made some things harder than he should have.
Here's the individual Sackwatch tally after one week:
Justin Fields - 3
Braxton Jones - 1
And here are the total Bears' sacks allowed on Week 1 going back to the Mike Martz era:
2010 Sacks - 4 (Martz)
2011 Sacks - 5 (Martz)
2012 Sacks - 2 (Tice)
2013 Sacks - 0 (Trestman)
2014 Sacks - 2 (Trestman)
2015 Sacks - 2 (Gase)
2016 Sacks - 5 (Loggains)
2017 Sacks - 4 (Loggains)
2018 Sacks - 4 (Nagy)
2019 Sacks - 5 (Nagy)
2020 Sacks - 1 (Nagy)
2021 Sacks - 3 (Nagy)
2022 Sacks - 2 (Getsy)
2023 Sacks - 4 (Getsy)
While I started writing this column in 2011, I did go back and tally up the sacks allowed in Martz's first season because I wanted something to compare his second year as the offensive coordinator, too.