Khalil Mack’s ability to dominate a game has been called into question by NFL analysts the last several weeks and that has to be an extra motivator as Mack prepares himself for the 2020 season.
He’s clearly the focal point of opposing offenses when ever he’s on the field for the Chicago Bears, and I would imagine a large chunk of each week’s game-plan goes into ‘how to slow Mack down.’
But that’s not stopping some the experts from knocking Mack down a few notches after he only racked up 8.5 sacks in 2019.
CBS Sports’ recently had eight edge rushers ranked ahead of Mack, Pro Football Focus had Mack down as their 18th best player heading into the 2020 season after being a top 10 guy the last few years, and NFL.com has Mack as one of their players under the most pressure in 2020.
When Chicago traded for Mack just before the start of the 2018 season, I thought it was one of the biggest steals in memory. And Mack burst on the scene in his Bears debut, with a strip-sack and pick-six in his first half of play. Although he would miss two games that season due to an ankle injury, Mack still finished with 12.5 sacks, 18 quarterback hits and six forced fumbles, earning his third first-team All-Pro designation.
But at the risk of sounding hyperbolic, did Mack make an impactful play last year? OK, five forced fumbles is a nice figure, but 8.5 sacks just doesn’t cut it. Honestly, I’m not really sure how he made a fifth consecutive Pro Bowl.
Two seasons into Mack’s Chicago tenure, the Bears have yet to win a playoff game. Obviously, this franchise’s most glaring issue is the quarterback position. But Mack is supposed to be a top-five defensive player. That’s why the Bears traded away a pair of first-rounders — and consequently handed out a record-setting extension — for his services. Last year, he was most definitely not elite.
This offseason, Chicago GM Ryan Pace signed Robert Quinn to hunt quarterbacks opposite Mack. Quinn’s the kind of proven running mate who should allow the 2016 Defensive Player of the Year to eat. Now the pressure’s on Mack to deliver sacks, wins and live up to the trade.
Let’s see if I got everything that NFL.com’s Adam Schein is saying about Mack; no impact plays from him in all of 2019, he’s no longer elite, he’s not living up to the trade...
If you’re just box score scouting or dinging Mack because of Chicago’s disappointing season a year ago, then I guess I could see how one would think all those things. But how many games do the Bears win if they didn’t have him attacking off the edge?
When the Bears coaches met the media a couple weeks ago they all raved about Mack and how he’s preparing for this year with a chip on his shoulder. Mack wasn’t happy with last year’s 8-8 record and he’s going to do everything in his power to get the Bears back to the postseason.
And speaking of Mack...
JUST DONATED!— Matt Miller (@nfldraftscout) June 30, 2020
Khalil Mack signed helmet. $1 per raffle ticket (you can buy as many as you want) w/proceeds going to @417Foundation scholarship fund.https://t.co/KOxDRDhQwE
Venmo - nfldraftscout pic.twitter.com/CZ5Lb3Smir