In this edition of Monday Film Room, we will look at two offensive lines that really struggled. First, Justin Fields was sacked nine times in the Bears vs. Browns game, so we will look at what role the offensive line played in his disastrous first start. The Patriots were supposed to be one of the top five offensive lines in the NFL this season, but they have not lived up to expectations in the first two weeks. Well, the Patriots only rushed for 21 yards on 11 carries on RB runs in week three against the Saints, so we look at the role the Pats offensive line played in the team's awful run performance.
Bears Pass Pro Struggles
In the first play, Jadaveon Clowney, who had two sacks, got his first thanks to poor technique from Germain Ifedi. At the snap, he takes a giant step over to the right in his initial pass set, which opens the door for Clowney, and he is never able to close it. If you look at how Clowney's stance is cocked and how he is aligned on Ifedi's outside shoulder, that should tell Ifedi that an inside pass rush is possible. Not saying that Clowney could not go outside, but because of how close he is, Clowney's body was in a position to do exactly what he did. Ifedi's initial pass set should have been straight back, and if Clowney takes the same trajectory in his rush then a quick inside kick slide step to either overtake him or if Clowney beats him to the spot, he is at least in position to wash him down.
The next play was a combination of poor blitz pick-up by Jason Peters and Myles Garrett overpowering the TE, resulting in two players getting to Fields. It becomes clear very quickly at the top right of the screen that Garrett will beat Cole Kmet, number 85, but what really hurts in this play is the fact that Jason Peters did not block anyone. All linemen need to be award during the pre-snap phase, but especially when playing with a rookie making his first start. Odds are Fields is not ready to be calling out potential pre-snap blitz adjustments. Peters on the other hand is pushing 40 and should be able to look up and see that the OLB Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah is a potential blitz threat. One might give him the benefit of the doubt and say maybe Peters thought he was covering Kmet, but Kmet is in pass pro on this play, so that means he does not have a firm grasp on the playbook if he thought that. At the snap, Peters initially steps right to help Cody Whitehair, who has his guy blocked just fine on his own and does not look up to see if anyone blitzes until it is too late.
In the third play, Peters again is at fault. It is hard to tell what Peters is trying to do in this play. It is not typical for a lineman to cut block on 3rd and 14 unless the offense is just running some quick pass play and preparing to punt. However, based on the pass sets of the other four linemen and all the Bears receivers taking off down-field, that does not seem to be the case. So with an RB aligned to his side and prepared to help chip, it makes no sense for him to attempt a cut block. Beyond that, the execution of the cut block was so bad that it barely affects Garrett and he easily gets around Peters for another of his many sacks on the day.
In play number four, Garrett is aligned inside at a DT position and just takes advantage of a mismatch with James Daniels to get another sack. What makes this play worse is the fact that Ifedi attempts to provide some minor help while also trying to block Clowney and Garrett sort of powers through him while beating Daniels as well.
In the fifth play, Garrett is lined up inside again. This time he does not get the sack, but he causes so much disruption that he played a part in making a sack on this play happen. At one point in the play he appears to be getting blocked by three Bears offensive linemen, and none of them ever neutralize him. Tak McKinley also did a good job at the top of the screen beating Ifedi and all the attention Garrett draws makes Malik Jackson's job easy as he twisted behind Clowney and easily beat David Montgomery to get in on the action. It is poor pass pro design to have three guys blocking Garrett while leaving an RB to try and block a DT.
Not much analysis is needed for play number six. Garrett beats Peters out of his stance and runs past him like he was not even there. What is weird about this play is that Garrett has been wreaking havoc all game and at pre-snap, and when the play initially starts, Peters is looking inside and appears to be more concerned with Clowney. Because of this, he turns his attention to Garrett too late, and he is already past Peters on his way to another sack.
In the final play, Clowney gets the sack, but Garrett causes everything to break down. He beats Peters again, who this time has Garrett's attention, but it does not matter. Peters is in a decent position to block him or at least run him upfield, but he attempts to punch too, and his hands appear to be too wide. The result is Garrett easily swats Peters hands away and runs past him to make first contact with Fields, ultimately resulting in him running into Clowney for a sack.
There are games when teams get high sack totals, and there is blame to go around due to backs or TEs getting beat or poor team blitz pickup. That was not the case in this game. The Bears offensive line played poorly, and it was primarily the play of potential future hall of famer Jason Peters that did the Bears in. When Peters was not getting physically outmatched by Garrett, it was mental errors that did him in. All seven of the sacks we examined were the fault of the offensive line, so that group has to take the brunt of the blame.
Patriots Run Struggles
Now let's pivot and take a look at the Patriots running game. In the play below, the offensive line does a good enough job to get some yards on this play but the FB, Jakob Johnson, does not do a good job on the lead block which results in a short gain.
In the next play, Jonnu Smith fails to sustain his outside block on Kaden Elliss, number 55 and that results in another short gain. David Andrews, the C, also fails to reach number 97, Malcolm Roach, who assisted on the tackle. Roach was lined up at DT in the playside A-gap, there is no reason he should have been in a position to help make a tackle that close to the sideline on that short of a gain.
In play three, Michael Onwenu is pulling and simply fails to make contact with CB Paulson Adebo, which results in another short gain.
In play four, Tanoh Kpassagnon, number 90 is highlighted instead of any Patriots because multiple Pats offensive linemen fail to block him, and he makes a tackle that stops the back for no gain. Both Isaiah Wynn and David Andrews pull left and attempt to block him, and neither is successful.
In the final play, the result is a one-yard loss primarily because Cameron Jordan, number 94, so easily sheds Smith. But, what a theme in the running game for the Pats offensive line in this game was a lack of physicality, and that was on full display as Onwenu was nearly knocked to the ground by Chancey Gardner-Johson, a safety he outweighs by over 100 pounds.
Overall, the Patriots struggles running the ball were not all the offensive lines fault as TEs and FBs also struggled to make blocks. However, there is no denying that the Pats offensive line is also not playing at the level they should be. They are not playing with the level of physicality many expected them to have, and worse, this unit is not executing at a high level.