What Chicago Bears pass-rusher Khalil Mack has done to start the 2018 NFL season has put the entire league on notice. This includes the coach of his former team, the Oakland Raiders, as even Jon Gruden’s jaw is seemingly on the floor.
After Mack’s latest performance, NFL.com’s Mike Silver detailed the scene with Gruden, which came just before his team’s 45-42 overtime win over the Cleveland Browns.
“Damn — Khalil Mack had another strip sack?” Gruden asked rhetorically, shaking his head at the Oakland Raiders assistant coaches in his midst. “Are you … kidding me?”
Gruden watched (and played some role) as Mack was traded to the Bears earlier this offseason after the two sides couldn’t come to terms on a contract extension. Immediately after being moved to Chicago, the 2016 Defensive Player of the Year signed a massive six-year, $141 million deal, and proceeded to hit the ground running.
Through four games, Mack has 17 combined tackles, five sacks, four forced fumbles, and one pick-six. He’s been arguably the best pass-rusher in the NFL to this point, and Gruden’s comments surely make it even worse for Raiders fans who were left stunned after the trade.
Aftermath of Khalil Mack Trade
Things haven’t exactly gone smoothly since Mack was dealt, to put it gently. Gruden had strong words about the pass-rusher previously, telling the NFL on ESPN “obviously, Khalil Mack didn’t want to be here.” This stemmed from his decision to hold out and likely the way negotiations went.
The Raiders also started out 0-3 before Gruden finally got into the win column during his first season back on the sidelines in Week 4. While fans will likely struggle to get past the loss for Mack for a long time, Raiders quarterback Derek Carr admitted it’s hard, but wants fans to be happy for the Bears’ new star.
Per Scott Bair of NBC Sports Bay Area:
“It’s hard to watch him go out and strip-sack everybody,” Carr said. “He has done that so many times here, and it hurts your heart to see it, but at the same time, it doesn’t hurt anymore.
“I’m happy for him. If you’re a Raider fan, it’s hard to see him do that. But just be happy for the guy. He has strained his tail off to get to where he’s at. The fact he’s making plays for someone else, we don’t like it, but we can be happy for him because we all love him to death.”
Unfortunately, Raiders fans will have to see Mack on the field sooner than they’d like, as a matchup with the Bears is slated for the 2019 season. That’s less than ideal, but Gruden and company are far more focused on digging out of their 1-3 hole to start this season than opponents in future seasons.
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