There's been a lot of discussion amongst Bears fans, experts, and analysts about the Chicago Bears' offensive line and the lack of pass protection.
There's been equal discussion about Mike Martz's offense and the seven step drop and the lack of protection schemes in Martz's offense.
Almost all of that discussion has been just that, discussion with no visual representation of what happened on each play. Well that's about to change, I'm going to bring in video tape of each and every sack the Bears allowed during the 2011 season.
We're all going to evaluate each one, and I'm going to do my best to analyze precisely what contributed to each sack. Obviously I can't be 100-percent correct in knowing what the line call was or what the protection scheme was.
However we're going to tackle these issues as completely and honestly as possible.
At the very least we want to get an idea of how many seven step drops led to sacks, how many blitzes led to sacks, whether or not Cutler held onto the ball too long etc.
There's about 16 days left before the start of training camp so hopefully we'll be able to get all 16 games from 2011 before the start of the 2012 season.
First up we have the opening game against the Atlanta Falcons, where the Bears allowed five sacks in this game. The home game victory was a big opening statement win for the Bears, but as expected most Bears fans left shaking their heads.
First sack of the game is sort of a combination of problems between Gabe Carimi and J'Marcus Webb.
Second sack of the game came in the opening play of the first quarter by John Abraham. Cutler takes a seven step drop and gets pressured and then finally sacked by Abraham. J'Marcus Webb gives up the sack, but it's debatable on whether or not he is completely responsible for the sack allowance.
Situation third down and eight at the Bears' own 41 yard line:
Webb as you can see gets beat pretty cleanly on a speed rush up the field by Abraham. Webb isn't quick getting out of his stance, and he's in catch up mode from the start. He does manage to push Abraham up the field enough to give Cutler a chance to step up, which is key. It's a seven step drop that causes Cutler to panic and he doesn't step up and deliver the football. Cutler should step up and have a target in mind on this pass play. The deep drop gives Webb less of a chance because Cutler is deeper in the pocket and his drop landmark is right in the way of that pure speed rush.
The question is does Cutler hold onto the ball too long? Webb obviously gives up the pressure by getting beat, but is able to recover enough to give Cutler a chance. Cutler is in the pocket for nearly five seconds before Abraham makes up the ground to get the sack.
Third sack given up is by Carimi at RT.
Carimi gives up the sack on a five step drop first and goal pass play from Cutler. It's sort of a speedy bull rush where Kroy Brierman uses his speed to get leverage on Carimi and push him back into Cutler to get the sack. The pocket in general collapses, but the sack is allowed by Carimi.
The fourth and fifth sacks of the game are far more flukey than the first three.
First on the fourth sack Cutler bobbles the ball drops it and is sacked, by being touched.
The fifth and final sack Garza gives up pressure that gets to Cutler forces him to scramble and then slide down before taking a shot. It's a designed roll-out with a disguised blitz from the Falcons.
Lessons learned from this game are obvious ones that are already beaten to death, but don't represent the totality of the sacks allowed on the season.
J'Marcus Webb arguably gives up two sacks, though one of those sacks it can be argued Cutler stands in the pocket too long, without delivering the football.
Also a contributing factor is the seven step drop where as a five step drop, Webb likely keeps Abraham up the field enough for Cutler to make a play.
Tomorrow we'll have the sacks given up in the Saints game, most of which came in the fourth quarter of the game. Saints used various types of overload blitzes that the Bears' offensive line was not able to adjust to, nor was Mike Martz willing to change his game plan to deal with obvious schemes from the Saints' defense.