The Chicago Bears want more from Khalil Mack this season.
The superstar linebacker earned first-team All-Pro honors in his first season with the Bears in 2018, making his presence felt immediately in what turned out to be a very memorable game against the rival Green Bay Packers. Mack had a sack, a forced fumble, a fumble recovery, an interception and a defensive score in his Bears debut, and that’s the Mack the Bears want to see more of.
When Stacey Dales of the NFL Network asked about Mack’s slightly-declining sack and pressure rate, Nagy referenced that game against the Packers before later throwing down a big-time challenge to his defense.
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Nagy: Bears Are Going to Try to Help Mack Scheme-Wise
“You think about Khalil and when he got here, that very first game and went to Green Bay and things that he did, that was pretty much off the charts for that first game,” Nagy said when asked about Mack’s production.
“Him as a player, he’s got to see… is (he) taking care of his body? How can we help him do that? Is it practice? Is it in the game? There’s a lot of stuff. But then let’s also remember this: Every coach that I talk to that goes up against Khalil Mack, they have a plan, and two and three plans for him in every game. So we also know that, and I think for us, we have to know that and start scheming him and just kind of finding that happy, happy medium between the two to get more success. … There’s some things that we’re looking at doing with him.”
With new Bears defensive coordinator Sean Desai taking the reins this year, hopes are high the team can return to its 2018 form when former DC Vic Fangio led the way. The Bears had 50 sacks that year before regressing, netting just 32 sacks in 2019 and 35 sacks in 2020 under Fangio’s successor, Chuck Pagano. Desai, a pupil of Fangio’s, will likely utilize a similar scheme to Fangio’s, which worked well for Mack the first time around.
Here’s a brief look at Mack’s stats in his three years with the Bears:
- 2018: 90.4 overall grade from PFF, 12.5 sacks, 6 forced fumbles, 10 tackles for loss, 48 hurries, 7 QB hits, 68 total pressures
- 2019: 86.2 overall grade from PFF, 8.5 sacks, 4 forced fumbles, 8 tackles for loss, 54 hurries, 7 QB hits, 70 total pressures
- 2020: 92.3 overall grade from PFF, 9 sacks, 3 forced fumbles, 11 tackles for loss, 43 hurries, 4 QB hits, 57 total pressures
Bears general manager Ryan Pace said this about Mack: “I think, too, some of the pieces that we’ve added will help him, as we add talent to that defense, it’s going to help us be creative with him.” The Bears signed former Broncos pass rusher Jeremiah Attaochu, who is familiar with Fangio’s defense, and if Attaochu plays well, it will afford Mack an opportunity to rest a bit more, potentially being more effective overall.
Considering he battled nagging injuries all of last season, resting Mack a bit more seems like a good idea.
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Nagy Wants More Takeaways This Season
When asked what he wants to see out of his defense this season, Nagy didn’t skip a beat, revealing some very lofty goals:
A ton of takeaways and turnovers. A ton of them. Everywhere you look, I want that ball coming out. I want fumbles, interceptions, tipped passes. I mean like – when they go to bed at night, just think about intercepting the football, you know? Stripping that football, be like, crazy about it. Everywhere you go. We have to get takeaways this year, and I think we got a lot of guys that are ready for it – I know Sean, Coach Desai, is really excited to do some emphasis drills with that. We went through that a few years ago, and you can see what that can do. That can really help out. But we as coaches, we’ve got to talk about it. You can’t just go out and expect it to happen. So that’s what I know Sean has a plan for.
Nagy giving credit to the way the defense played “a few years ago” is a direct comment on how they’ve been playing since, and he made it clear what he wants to see when the regular season rolls around in September. We’ll see if Mack and company answer the call.