Jimmy Clausen sacked! What went wrong Wk 3 vs the Bengals




I was starved for some football so I have decided that I'll start looking at each of Jimmy's sacks and figure out what went wrong. Was it a protection issue? Did Jimmy hold onto the ball too long? Inexperienced receivers couldn't gain any separation? Perhaps all of the above! We take a look at the tape and attempt to diagnose and intuit just what went wrong.


Jimmy Clausen made his first NFL start in week 3 of the regular season against the Bengals. He had a very bad start posting just 1 completion out of 5 attempts for 14 yards with one interception. On 2nd & 10, 59 seconds left in the 2nd quarter on our own 28 yard line, the Panthers were looking to create an opportunity that would give them some confidence going into halftime. They were down 10-0 to the Bengals and were desperate for a spark. I don't have a video to share with you, but I'll do my best with my limited amount of knowledge to illustrate the progression of the play....  after the jump

Quarter: 2nd
Time: 0:59
Formation: Shotgun
Defensive front: 3 Man Front

Pass Protection Report:

Jordan Gross: completely handles his man. No contest.

Travelle Wharton: easily picks up the NT who is attracting Kalil away from the center of the line.

Ryan Kalil: at first chases to his left after the NT. Fails to adjust quickly enough to pick up the weak side backer blitzing past his right side.

Mackenzy Bernadeau: picks up the MLB on the blitz and manages to keep him from the play, but just barely - as he was pushed into the middle of the pocket by the MLB.

Mike Goodson: picks up the weakside backer on the blitz that Kalil lets slip through. Well, he gets run over but I suppose that's an acceptable way to stop someone as long as the defender falls, too

Geoff Schwartz: picks up the DE who is performing an outside speed rush. As they near the edge of the pocket, Schwartz lets the DE go free to pick up the blitzing strong side backer.

The Good:

Gross, Wharton absolutely handle their assignments with confidence.

The Less Good:

Goodson makes a good decision going after the blitzing weak side backer that Kalil misses.

The Bad:

Goodson gets rocked. He's lucky that the defender was probably expecting more resistance and lost his balance, falling on top of Goodson.

Bernadeau gets pushed around by the Bengals MLB into the middle of the pocket a little too easily.

The Ugly:

Schwartz displays good awareness spotting the blitzing strong side backer. However, I question the decision making to let his DE go in order to take on the LB. He may have expected help from Goodson with the DE, but I think I'd rather have a RT stay with his man and let Goodson pick up the blitzer. Either way, Goodson was already occupied by the weak side backer.

Kalil is the unlikely catalyst that sets this sack in motion. First, he chases the NT instead of trusting Wharton to pick him up. He realizes too late that the weak side backer is coming on the blitz and can't adjust in time. This forces Goodson to drop into vacancy which prevents him from helping Schwartz with the speed rusher on the edge or the strong side blitzer.

Closing Thoughts:

Four players were running deeper routes which required time that wasn't provided. From the limited view of the receivers, no one was open at the time of the sack. A couple mistakes were made in protection but the protection call was perfect. We should have been able to pick everything up and give Jimmy enough time for the deep routes to develop. Unfortunately, we missed an assignment with the weak side backer and that changed the entire complexion of the play. Sacked!



After watching this play a few more dozen times, I have to amend a couple of items. From the broadcast angle, it looked like Bernadeau  handled his assignment well. However, I got a look from behind Clausen that shows Bernadeau getting pushed back into the middle of the pocket. So I had to remove him from "The Good" into "The Bad". Apologies for the mixup on that one.

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