Jimmy Clausen Sacked! What went wrong Wk 4 vs the Saints


We're marching on to the following week where Jimmy suffered three sacks. This was a heart-breaker of a game because we were barely in field goal range at the end of the game before two negative plays ended our chance at our first victory of the season after starting 0-3. I appreciate any comments, questions or feedback, so don't hesitate to jump into the discussion! For ease of reference, please use "Sack 1" or "Sack 3" to differentiate between plays. If this is too confusing, I may create separate posts for each sack (which seems excessive), or just pick one sack per game.

The beginning of this game was the very worst kind of comedy. You know the kind where everyone else finds it funny but you find it infuriating? The first sack occurred during the 1st quarter with 13:24 on the clock. We had already used a time out. If this sack didn't get your blood boiling on 2nd & 10 with an empty backfield, then surely the 2nd timeout called after this play, did! Let's take a closer look at what went wrong...  after the jump

Sack #1

Quarter: 1st
Time: 13:24
Timeouts: 2
Score: 0-0
Yard: 50
Formation: Empty backfield, five receivers, Williams in left slot
Defensive front: 4 Man Front


Pass Protection Report:

Jordan Gross: Confidently pushes his bull rushing DE backward. The defender, now out of the play, throws his hands up.

Travelle Wharton and Ryan Kalil: They double up on the 4-3 NT. No contest.

Mackenzy Bernadeau gets bull rushed and is shoved with force, causing him to stagger backwards.

Geoff Schwartz is defending against a speed rush and keeps the defender running upfield away from the play.

The Good:

Gross, Wharton, Kalil handle their assignments with ease.

The Less Good:

Schwartz wasn't the fastest off the line. He got the job done, but it didn't look particularly efficient.

The Bad:

Looks like Jimmy may have been staring down David Gettis, who was split wide left, waiting for him to cut on an in-route. He probably would have noticed the pressure if he had looked to the right side of the field. Additionally, he may have spotted Jeff King who had enough space to throw the ball to and pick up 5-10 yards.

The Ugly:

Ellis tossed Mackenzy aside easily, giving him a clear and uncontested path to Jimmy. No blitzers on this play. Mackenzy was simply used.

Closing Comments:

Not sure what Jimmy is waiting for on this one. He didn't have a lot of time, but he certainly had multiple options. Notably, Williams and Jeff King had some space. It looks like he's waiting for Gettis, who's split wide left, to cut back towards the middle of the field but as an NFL QB you need to learn when to give up on a route and come back to it later if you have time. Especially if you have FIVE options to choose from! Either way, Mackenzy didn't help him out much by allowing an easy and quick pressure off of a four man rush. Sacked!


Sack #2

Quarter: 2nd
Time: 6:27
Timeouts: 1
Score: 7-7
Yard: Own 44 yard line
Formation: Shotgun, Fiametta left of Clausen, 4 receivers
Defensive front: 4 Man Front


Pass Protection Report

Jordan Gross: The right side of the defensive line performs a stunt, leaving Gross to handle the DT. Gross angles his body towards Ellis, using the leverage to stop the DT in his tracks.

Travelle Wharton: Redirects DE Smith and ensures he is out of the play.

Ryan Kalil: Picks up and stops Vilma with ease, not giving an inch.

Mackenzy Bernadeau: Completely overpowered. #69 pushes Mackenzy deep into the middle of the pocket from the 44 yard line to the 37 yard line. This makes it impossible for Clausen to step up into the pocket to avoid the rush.

Geoff Schwartz: Holds his ground fairly well. He gets pushed up field but doesn't give his man access to Clausen at any point. The only problem is that with how far back Mackenzy was pushed, there was no way for Clausen to escape to his right or middle.

Tony Fiametta: Doesn't spot Usama Young blitzing past Jordan Gross and instead darts through the pocket. It's difficult to tell if he was on a delayed release as a receiver, or if he was looking to help out with the pressure coming up the middle. Based on his movement, I believe he was on a delayed release as a safety valve for Clausen.

The Good:

Gross, Wharton, Kalil and Schwartz handle their assignments with relative ease.

The Bad:

Fiametta was probably on a delayed release as a receiver but never looked to his left for the free blitzer zeroing in on Clausen.

The Ugly:

Mackenzy gets dominated at the point of attack and gets driven back seven yards into the middle of the pocket.

Clausen actually has an open receiver on this play (based on the broadcast camera angle). Steve Smith is coming out of his break right as Clausen gets to the end of his drop. If he pull the trigger right here, Steve Smith has a reception. He probably wouldn't have gotten very far as the coverage was decent, but the Panthers would have had a first down, assuming Steve catches the ball. Unfortunatley, Clausen hesitates and tries to escape into the pocket which is very crowded thanks to the penetration allowed by Mackenzy.

Closing Comments:

In my opinion, the are three major contributing factors to this sack. One, Mackenzy is dominated, collapsing the pocket. Two, Fiametta doesn't spot Usama Young and darts out of the pocket on a delayed release. Three, Clausen misses his short window of opportunity to get the ball out of his hands to an open receiver. Sacked!


Sack #3

Quarter: 4th
Time: 1:13
Timeouts: 0
Score: 14-16, Saints
Yard: Their 40 yard line
Formation: Shotgun, 4 receivers, J-Stew in to block
Defensive front: 4 man front, 3 showing blitz


Pass Protection Report:

Jordan Gross: DE is performing a speed rush but Gross keeps up really well. Jimmy ends up running into the middle of the pocket which gives Gross' man a chance to pull away from Gross and help bring Jimmy down for the sack.

Travelle Wharton: Shoves his man away with force. Good footwork to stay in front of his man. No contest.

Ryan Kalil: Takes on one of the blitzing linebackers with ease. Repels him with a shove and displays good footwork to stay in front of his man.

Mackenzy Bernadeau: Forced upfield a little, but stays in front of his DT and eventually slows him down. Keeps him away from the play.

Geoff Schwartz: Almost looks unsure of who to block first. Sees Bernadeau take his DT then switches his focus to the speed rushing DE. Holds his ground really well.

Jonothan Stewart: Has the unenviable task of keeping Vilma away from Clausen. He steps up to the challenge admirably, repelling him twice, ensuring Vilma stays out of the play.

Six were left in for protection while the Saints rushed 7. The free blitzer sneaks in between Schwartz and Bernadeau and continues pursuit of Clausen eventually bringing him down.

The Good:

The O-line as a whole, along with J-Stew really do a great job of picking up as much of the pressure as they possibly can.

The Bad:

The defense was not hiding this blitz. There were seven men on the line and four guys who were playing about 7-10 yards off the receivers. Yet the routes we ran on this play were: Slot receivers ran go routes; Receivers split wide ran shallow in routes. Jimmy had the opportunity to throw to both shallow in-routes as they were coming out of their breaks.

The Ugly:

The previous play was a run for -4 yards. The last thing you wanted here was to take a sack for more negative yardage. The game was on the line and we were so close to field goal range. What a heart breaking way to end a game.

Closing Comments:

This one is pretty simple. Jimmy had a couple of options with the shallow in-routes. Alternatively, whoever was in the left slot (can't tell from the angles I have) beat his man. Jimmy was already in trouble at that point but I would have preferred he take a chance and throw it deep and let his receiver run to the ball. Considering how deep the coverage was, I would have preferred a quick pass to someone at the line and hope they can make one guy miss. Even if we didn't pick up the first down we could have put ourselves in a better position for the field goal - or at least give ourselves a chance to move the chains on 4th down. When you have seven guys on the line, you have to be mentally prepared to make a QUICK decision. That didn't happen. So I'm throwing this one squarely on the shoulders of our young QB. Sacked!

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