Even after the Chicago Bears’ recent 20-13 win against the Detroit Lions, two former Bears legends are calling out the team’s defense–specifically its star player, Khalil Mack.
On their weekly radio show and podcast, The Hamp & O’B Show with Koz, former Bears defensive end Ed O’Bradovich and Hall of Fame defensive lineman Dan Hampton saw multiple things happen with the Bears throughout the game that they took issue with. Hampton, a member of the famed ’85 Bears Super Bowl winning defense, said he was down on the sidelines during the Bears’ game against the Lions Sunday, and he did not like what he saw.
Hampton: Bears Defense Has No Direction & No Leadership
Hampton noted that the Bears defense let a second-string quarterback (Jeff Driskel, who filled in for an injured Matthew Stafford) go up and down the field on them for much of the game, noting that they looked sluggish when they’re supposed to be looking dominant. Hampton said he watched the Bears prepare for the game, as well as how they interacted and, he said there was something “sad” about the current team.
“They should be ashamed of the way they played today,” Hampton said about the entire team. “There’s something ill in the winds that are blowing out of Soldier Field,” Hampton mused, before calling out someone specifically: Bears star linebacker Khalil Mack.
Khalil Mack Not a Leader, a “Thief”
While Khalil Mack had a strong start to the season, he has been quiet of late. Mack hasn’t forced a fumble since Week 4–he forced four through Week 4 and hasn’t forced one since. Hampton said Mack’s absence has been felt: “Where the hell was Khalil Mack?” Hampton asked. “This guy has turned into a thief…any team has got to have a certain leader, a guy that you look at and say that’s the guy we’re gonna emulate and follow,” and Mack has not been that guy, according to Hampton.
Hampton went on to say that the Bears had two leaders on defense who were also the team’s two most physical players: Akiem Hicks and Danny Trevathan–both of whom are likely out for the majority of the season. “Akiem Hicks is the man, not Khalil Mack,” Ed O’Bradovich added, noting how different the Bears defense has looked without Hicks. O’Bradovich also noted that the Bears went from giving up a little over 60 yards rushing a game with Hicks in the lineup to giving up over 120 ypg with him out.
“Is he a great football player?” O’Bradovich asked. “Yes, he is…Can you have a bad game? Yes, you can. Yes, you can. But you can’t have five bad games. Not when you’re making $141 million dollars for six years, which brings it to $23.5 million a year…if he plays about 50 plays a game, that’s roughly…he makes about $30,000 a play,” O’Bradovich noted. “He had better walk on water, which he has not been doing,” O’Bradovich said.
Glen Kozlowski: Mack Has Been “Nonexistent This Year”
Former Bears wide receiver Glen Kozlowski has a different problem with Mack this season: his apparent lack of conditioning.
“I’m watching this guy taking himself out on critical plays because he’s tired. He’s out of shape and that defense is out of shape and it showed,” Kozlowski said, referring to a moment late in the fourth quarter against the Lions when Mack asked to be taken out during a critical third downplay.
“This is the down that you need Mack–late in the game with time running out and you need a defensive stop or a big play, Kozlowski argued. Instead, it feels like Mack has been “nonexistent this year,” Kozlowski said.
Both Hampton and O’Bradovich scoffed at the idea that the increased snaps the defense has been playing due to the offense’s ineptitude could be contributing to Mack and the defense’s apparent fatigue. Instead, they pointed to poor conditioning and practice routines due to poor coaching.
“Chuck Pagano, we’re looking at you, buddy,” Hampton said, noting that the Bears’ uninspired and out of shape defense is largely on the coaches, especially the defensive coordinator.
With both Hicks and Trevathan out, Mack should be the unquestioned leader of this defense–and he has seven games left to assume that role.