Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

04 Oct 2010

Everyone To Blame For Bears' Offensive Debacle

Our friend J.J. Cooper at Fanhouse is tracking the time each quarterback has before being sacked this year; in this entry, he breaks down the disaster that was Jay Cutler versus the Giants.

Posted by: Bill Barnwell on 04 Oct 2010

40 comments, Last at 07 Oct 2010, 3:57pm by tuluse


by Raiderjoe :: Mon, 10/04/2010 - 10:23pm

Jay Cutler and beras offoensive line make Giants defense look klike 1967 Raiders

by spenczar :: Tue, 10/05/2010 - 1:16pm

Uhh, yeah. Totally my first thought too.

by Raiderjoe :: Tue, 10/05/2010 - 2:35pm

Was furst thought becsuause 1967 RAIDERS one of best sack machines all timre

by Dan :: Mon, 10/04/2010 - 10:27pm

I looked at the tape for the 9 Cutler sacks and (as I wrote in this thread) I'd say that 4 were primarily a protection problem, 4 were primarily on Cutler, and 1 was primarily a coverage sack. This video shows six of them, and there are links to the others in the play-by-play. Here they are in order:

1st quarter
13:36 3-10 Umenyiora
6 block, 4 rush plus Tuck spies & comes late
Primarily a protection problem. Cutler made a 7-step drop, but as soon as he got back there the pocket was collapsing as Jason Pierre-Paul was coming around the offensive right side. Cutler tried to step up, but Umenyiora was right there coming up the middle, and Tuck was also closing in.

10:11 1-10 Canty
6 block, 4 rush
Another protection problem on a 7-step drop. Tuck came around the offensive right side and Canty broke through up the middle, giving Cutler no time and nowhere to move to evade the rush.

2nd quarter
14:27 3-07 Umenyiora (fumble)
7 block, 4 rush
Primarily protection, and Cutler may have been a split second too slow to get rid of it. The Bears try a designed rollout with Cutler moving to the right, but Tuck comes flying around the offensive right side to contain him and keep him from continuing to the right, and Umenyiora comes all the way around from the offensive left side, quickly beating Olsen and getting to Cutler as he throws to force a fumble (caught by Kreutz).

11:25 1-10 Tuck (fumble)
7 block, 4 rush
Primarily on Cutler holding the ball too long, plus Manumaleuna let Tuck go right around him on the offensive right.

09:59 3-19 Umenyiora (fumble lost)
6 block, 4 rush
Primarily on Cutler holding the ball too long. Umenyiora came around the offensive left, but was forced wide and around. Cutler stepped up and clutched a couple times but didn't get rid of it, and Osi eventually got to him for the strip sack turnover.

07:05 2-07 Goff/Cofield (out of bounds)
8 block, 4 rush
This was on the coverage and Cutler. It was a three-step drop but it looked like the player wasn't open on the quick slant so Cutler held it, scrambled right, and went out of bounds.

06:26 3-09 Tuck
7 block, 4 rush
Primarily on Cutler, and not great protection. Cutler slips at the end of his 7-step drop, then resets his feet but doesn't throw. By then the pressure is there and he moves around in the pocket to try to avoid the rush but can't escape.

05:07 1-10 Cofield
7 block, 4 rush
A protection problem. Cofield blew right by the center (Kreutz) and then the right guard (Louis) and came right at Cutler.

00:58 1-10 Ross
5 block, 5 rush
Cutler doesn't make the read. Bears go five wide, Ross blitzes from the slot on the offensive left and comes unblocked, Cutler doesn't see him and make the quick throw so he takes the sack. Not sure if someone on the OL was supposed to pick up the blitzer - perhaps the left tackle Omiyale?

by ChaosOnion (not verified) :: Tue, 10/05/2010 - 8:32am

From your viewing, did you see any truth to the theory that Cutler's concussion came much earlier in the game than first assumed? A lot has been made of his slow decision making in that game, yet I see from your description the first 3 sacks were on his protection. NYG just teed off on him in the second. Did you note when he started missing blatantly open receivers? Could he have been concussed early on and then just had a worse night of it because the initial damage made him that more prone to poor decisions?

While I was watching that game, there was a shot of him walking over to the bench in such a daze that I would call it a stupor. He slowly sat down, looked around like he had just woken up from a nap and put on his knit hat in what seemed to be slow motion. I wrote it off at the time, but it is much more telling now.

by Vet_Nick :: Tue, 10/05/2010 - 10:12am

Had a quick look on the DVR and the last one seems to be the only one where he took any sort of head trauma. I did only look at the sacks though, don't know whether he took any other big hits.

by Raiderjoe :: Tue, 10/05/2010 - 10:43am

Not trying to be funny bur cutker always look like that. Maybe was extra slow vs giants. Like kevin millwood pitching after doing 13 bong hits

by Dan :: Tue, 10/05/2010 - 1:34pm

I just watched the replays of those 9 plays and for the most part they didn't show the receivers on screen, so I can't say anything about him missing blatantly open receivers. It didn't look like his head got hit on any of the first 8 sacks, but something could have happened on one of the other plays.

I think it is telling that the sacks which were primarily due to protection mostly came early, and that most of the rest were primarily on Cutler. Something was going on with Cutler in the 2nd quarter, I'd guess.

by Dan :: Tue, 10/05/2010 - 4:04pm

"Your Boy Roy" did a video breakdown of Cutler's 9 sacks which shows replays from more angles than I saw when I was reviewing the videos on nfl.com, and also has some slow-mo clips which help show what was going on. For instance, on the 4th sack it looks like Cutler wanted to go to Olsen on an out, but Olsen bumped into Hester which messed up his route.

Roy thinks that the concussion happened on the third sack at the start of the 2nd quarter, and he might be right. I've linked to the part of the video where he explains it: Umenyiora hit the back of Cutler's helmet, Cutler stayed down on one knee for a while after the play, and apparently Cutler went towards the wrong sideline after the play until his teammates corrected him.

by Jimmy :: Wed, 10/06/2010 - 9:06am

The video is good, there is something quite reassuring about watching a clip of a guy drinking and smoking as he goes through a load of plays from the previous week's game. It gives me the sense that somewhere all is right with the world.

The video also makes it fairly clear that Cutler was concussed after the Osi hit to the back of his head. After that he just seems punch drunk. The sack where Knox is open over the middle is strange to watch as Cutler does seem to (kind of) see him but instead of throwing him the ball he just starts to stumble towards him and predictably gets sacked. I don't think he had any idea what he was doing.

I am not a fan of Martz this week, when the Giants send out three DEs and Canty the Bears whould have been running the ball. Even if we are crap at it, if you can't run against a line that averages 265lbs or so you should probably just give up.

by Scott C :: Tue, 10/05/2010 - 1:11am

Question: Anyone else watch the OTHER game with nearly as many sacks (9)?

I'm sure the guy with 4 sacks, 4 QB hits, one interception returned for a TD, and 2 passes defensed will go overlooked this week because it wasn't in prime time.

by jackgibbs :: Tue, 10/05/2010 - 3:28pm

I wish I could've seen it, but the charger game was blacked out for me because apparently they own all of southern california now and they can't sell out their stadium

by JoeHova :: Tue, 10/05/2010 - 2:51am

***Question: Anyone else watch the OTHER game with nearly as many sacks (9)? ***

Couldn't you have just mentioned that it was the Chargers game instead of being snide and oblique?

by Big Johnson :: Tue, 10/05/2010 - 4:10am

im with him. Why cant the chargers get some positive publicity once in a while? Hes being snide because thats the only way anyone will acknowledge that the chargers played last sunday. BTW why no article on shaun phillips?

by JonFrum (not verified) :: Tue, 10/05/2010 - 1:57pm

Dear Chargers Fan: No one cares that you think no one cares.

by Scott C :: Tue, 10/05/2010 - 8:16am

Um, because I wanted people to go "wait, there was a 9 sack game too this week?".

Sure, there was a difference in competition (Bears vs Cards), but who here is going to tell me that the Arizona O-line is much better/worse than the Bears?
Who is going to say that the QB difference w.r.t. holding on to the ball to long or escaping pressure is much different?

Yeah, the bears have a much better D, and a QB who when given protection is better, but the teams are not that much different otherwise.

The number of posts around here implying that the bears O-line woes and the sack total are extremely unusual has been very large. Several hundred posts, and I saw not one anywhere here mentioning that similar things happened elsewhere in the NFL this week.

by ChrisZ (not verified) :: Tue, 10/05/2010 - 8:26am

Maybe you should worry more about sustaining enough fans in San Diego to avoid home game black outs and less about the national coverage they get for beating up on the Cardinals.

by RaxGrissman :: Tue, 10/05/2010 - 1:12pm

I think it's more that it was actually 9 sacks in one HALF. Which is far more interesting than 9 in a game. After that they probably went out of their way to stop sacks at any cost. And yeah the Bears are a lot more interesting than the Cards right now.

by BigCheese :: Thu, 10/07/2010 - 1:30am

You are, of course, completely right.

The Cards have one of the best three recievers in football and no one who can't get him the ball. The Bears have Cutler throwing to Knox, Hester and Bennet.

The Cards can't run the ball because they face constant nine in the box since their QBs scare no one. The Bears can't run the ball despite oposing defenses focusing on killing Cutler instead of playing the run.

The Bears have one of the most complete special teams in the league with good performance in all phases of it. The Cards... have special teams I guess.

The Cards lost their defensive leader before the year. The Bears got theirs back.

They are COMPLETELY alike! How did I not see it before?

- Alvaro

by Q (not verified) :: Tue, 10/05/2010 - 4:16am

People are focusing on the Giants/Bears game because it came against an undefeated team (3-0 Chicago). Contrastingly,, everyone knows that Arizona is absolutely horrible (now playing an undrafted rookie qb) and that despite 2 wins might be the 2nd Worst team in all of football at this moment in time (maybe Buffalo is worse).

by tuluse :: Tue, 10/05/2010 - 5:05am

Plus, most people are talking about how terrible the Bears line is, not the excellent pass rush of the Giants. So the Chargers still aren't getting dissed. The Cardinals are just avoiding even more questions asked of them.

by Scott C :: Tue, 10/05/2010 - 8:15am

Its not about the Chargers getting dissed, its about the tunnel-vision induced by prime-time games. Fans, even ones that visit FO, just weren't even AWARE of the other game's similar pass protection breakdown. Nobody even said "wow, the Chigago O-line could be even worse than Arizonas".

by Mr Shush :: Tue, 10/05/2010 - 8:39am

Arizona spent most of the game with an undrafted rookie seeing his first NFL action at quarterback. I think one natural assumption would be that many of the sacks were probably on him, and that that was pretty unsurprising.

Also, everyone already knew the Cardinals offense ex-Fitzthulu sucked something fierce from top to bottom. Even if they had a good offensive line, the team would still be crappy, whereas the Bears with a good offensive line are probably a Superbowl contender. Finally, Mike Martz and Jay Cutler are huge names, divisive figures, and a great story win or lose; Derek Anderson, Max Hall and . . . Mike Miller, apparently, live and learn . . . not so much.

by dbostedo :: Tue, 10/05/2010 - 9:49am

"Fans, even ones that visit FO, just weren't even AWARE of the other game's similar pass protection breakdown."

I'm not sure why you think that. Just because it's not heavily discussed doesn't mean people aren't aware - just that they don't, for whatever reason, care.

Certainly anyone who plays fantasy football (which is probably a pretty large percentage of football fans) knows what the Chargers defense did. But since it came against a rookie QB, and the Cardinals, and no one saw it, no one feels the need/ability to talk about it. I'm certainly in that camp.

Why wouldn't prime time games be discussed more than all the other games? Everyone sees them, so that they CAN be discussed. It's not tunnel vision - it's that people can only really discuss what they've watched (or maybe ask questions of others who watched it).

by DaveRichters :: Tue, 10/05/2010 - 10:51am

I'm not sure why you think that. Just because it's not heavily discussed doesn't mean people aren't aware - just that they don't, for whatever reason, care.

I had no idea, and I guess I care a little bit now that I am aware.

by RaxGrissman :: Tue, 10/05/2010 - 1:14pm

Dude, there were 9 sacks in one HALF. That's way crazier than 9 in a game, which happens fairly often.

by Scott C :: Tue, 10/05/2010 - 8:13am

Undefeated at 3-0 means little. It was because it was on SNF and the Charger game was seen by hardly anyone due to Eagles/Redskins being on at the same time.

Chicago's collapse was perhaps more surprising than Arizona's, but only for those who aren't paying attention:

Martz. Cutler. Bears O-line.

It was obvious in pre-season that a team with a great pass rush would cause trouble here. Martz is 'use the pass to open up the run', and has well documented high sack rates on his teams. Cutler has always had a hard time against a good pass rush. The bears O-line hasn't exactly been all that great in the last 5+ years.

IMO, both the Giants and Chargers have some good talent in rushing the passer, and got to play against bad O-lines with QB's who hold the ball too long.

by Spielman :: Tue, 10/05/2010 - 9:56am

"Martz is 'use the pass to open up the run', and has well documented high sack rates on his teams."

He does?

Shaun Hill's sack%+ under Martz: 105. His rate in other systems is lower.
JT O'Sullivan's sack%+ was terrible, but he doesn't have enough time in other systems to compare.
Jon Kitna's sack%+ under Martz: 98. Jon Kitna's career rate: 96.
Marc Bulger's sack%+ under Martz: 97. Marc Bulger's career rate: 93.
Kurt Warner's sack%+ under Martz: 103. Kurt Warner's career rate: 102.

Those "well documented high sack rates" are very average, and are better across the board than the QBs in question have done without Martz. A case for Martz as a sack-maker is going to have to rest on a half season of JT O'Sullivan and one game by Jay Cutler.

by unverified (not verified) :: Tue, 10/05/2010 - 10:43am

I don't know where you got these numbers or what exactly the rate means but it does not jibe with what I know about Kitna's years with the Lions. Kitna with Martz had 1157 attempts and 114 sacks which gives a quick and dirty sack rate of about 10%, non-Martz years Kitna had 2957 attempts and 188 sacks wchich is a ratio of 6.4%. Seems like a big Martz related difference to me.

by Spielman :: Tue, 10/05/2010 - 5:05pm

Never look at stats while pumped full of cold meds. You're absolutely right, and I was reading the wrong column. Kitna was a sack machine under Martz, and was good at avoiding sacks in every other year. He'd have been an 83 under Martz and has a career mark of 98. Godawful, obviously.

So the case for Martz being a sack-maker really rests on two full years of Jon Kitna, and despite there being counter-examples, you could easily make the case that the Lions years are the best analog to the current Bears in terms of offensive line quality. So, point redacted.

by BigCheese :: Thu, 10/07/2010 - 1:40am

Yes, I can't tell you how many times I heard "Once the Bears face a real pass-rush instead of 2008 sack leader DeMarcus Ware and 2010 (so far) sack leader Clay Matthews who is on pace to shatter the single season sacks record, those scrubs, they'll be exposed!" Even my grandmother gave me that spiel!

- Alvaro

by Mr Shush :: Thu, 10/07/2010 - 10:11am

Maybe they're (for whatever reason) much better at blocking against a 3-4, or against speed edge rushers vs. pressure through the middle.

by tuluse :: Thu, 10/07/2010 - 3:57pm

It looked to me like the major difference was that the Giants were actually covering receivers and/or Cutler was missing open guys.

by Sophandros :: Tue, 10/05/2010 - 9:45am

So their offense got debacled?

Sports talk radio and sports message boards are the killing fields of intellectual discourse.

by Fontes of Wayne :: Tue, 10/05/2010 - 10:31am

Despite the headline, I'm pretty sure this wasn't my fault.

by tuluse :: Tue, 10/05/2010 - 2:37pm

It's like performance art, just by watching you take part and become culpable.

by spanky (not verified) :: Tue, 10/05/2010 - 1:13pm

gotta believe that if a QB is sacked on 6 straight drops, his brain was already cooked. maybe cutler is that bad, but i doubt it. he faced better rushes against the boys and the pack. what a shame, because the giants back 7 is soft as hell. yards were there to be had

by Jon Frum (not verified) :: Tue, 10/05/2010 - 2:01pm

Occam's Razor: he's just that bad. He'll have big stat games, and he'll be a disaster. People have fallen for the 'he has a big arm' propaganda the media loves to play. He's the same guy he was in Denver.

by Mr Shush :: Tue, 10/05/2010 - 8:55pm

Ockham's Razor is a lousy way to decide between multiple reasonably simple, reasonably plausible explanations. The video linked above by another poster shows frame by frame that Cutler took a terrifyingly hard helmet-to-helmet hit to the back of his head on the sack by Umenyiora at the start of the second quarter, then took nearly twenty seconds just to be able to stand up, then tried to walk towards the wrong sideline. There is no possible way his brain was functioning normally at any subsequent point in the game.

by Jimmy :: Wed, 10/06/2010 - 8:59am

Yeah but you can prove anything with facts can't you.