At this moment, it’d be difficult to argue against Khalil Mack’s case for a second career Defensive Player of the Year honor. The 28-year-old superstar has already accrued 4.5 sacks, and leads the NFL in quarterback pressures with 23. He has a successful strip sack in two straight outings and appears poised to continue his monstrous exploits against his former team in the Raiders this Sunday in London.
To place Mack’s first month of the 2019 season into proper context, analytics outlet Pro Football Focus has named Mack to their First-Quarter All-Pro team.
Here’s how the bright minds in Cincinnati evaluated Chicago’s talisman to this stage:
Khalil Mack has been a game-wrecker in his second season with the Chicago Bears. He leads all NFL defensive linemen with 100 or more defensive snaps through Week 4 in overall grade (91.8) and pass-rushing grade (92.5).
Not only is Mack featuring more than every other front line defensive player, he’s making the most of his opportunities, too. According to ESPN’s Pass Rush Win Rate statistic, the veteran has won 38.5 percent of the pass plays the Bears’ defense has faced. That translates to approximately 60 victories on a 159-pass sample size. Mack is unsurprisingly pulling out the stops in his physical prime.
On the back-end, a one-year deal signed by Ha Ha Clinton-Dix has demonstrated to be a worthwhile low risk investment for the Bears. The 26-year-old left Washington in free agency after being traded by the Packers last fall. Chicago’s bet in subsequently acquiring Clinton-Dix was that inserting the former Second-Team All-Pro into a star-studded defense would galvanize him enough to again play at a high level.
Clinton-Dix’s efforts through his first four games with the Bears have been appropriately recognized: Pro Football Focus also named the free safety a First-Quarter All-Pro.
His all-around versatile resume through a month ostensibly speaks for itself:
Earning an 80.7 coverage grade and an 81.1 run-defense grade through Week 4, Ha Ha Clinton-Dix currently ranks fifth at his position in overall grade (85.2). Added this offseason via free agency, Clinton-Dix is proving his worth for the Bears’ defense to start the year.
Clinton-Dix has fully maximized his opportunity on the lakefront. He’s proven to be an ideal complement to former Alabama teammate, Eddie Jackson. An impact talent, he’s created three turnovers in four games—one his first pick-six since high school in Orlando, Florida. And he’s afforded defensive coordinator Chuck Pagano fresh dimensions in coverage, which has allowed Chicago’s athletic, attacking defense to be more aggressive overall.
Mack is the straw that assuredly stirs almost every drink the Bears have in their possession, but Clinton-Dix’s addition is already paying off with outstanding dividends.
Robert normally finds “ha-ha’s” in more conventionally amusing places.
Find Robert on Twitter @RobertZeglinski. You can’t take a picture of this, it’s already gone.