Khalil Mack Sounds off on Playing Against the Raiders as a Charger

khalil mack

Getty Los Angeles Chargers pass rusher Khalil Mack.

When the Raiders drafted Khalil Mack in 2014, he quickly became the best defensive player the team had in decades. Lester Hayes is the only other player in franchise history to win Defensive Player of the Year. It looked like he’d have a long and storied career with the team before Jon Gruden decided to trade him to the Chicago Bears.

Mack put together four solid seasons with the Bears but never reached the heights he did with the Raiders. This offseason, he was traded to the Los Angeles Chargers. When he was with the Bears, it was easy for the Raiders to forget about him outside of a couple of matchups over four years. He’ll now be facing the silver and black twice a season.

The divorce between Mack and the Raiders wasn’t the most harmonious but the star pass rusher has continuously taken the high road when asked about his former team. Mack will be playing against Las Vegas in his first game as a Chargers. He’s not overthinking the matchup but he does realize that it’ll be a different experience than most games.

“It’s just another game, but also understanding that I’ve heard that crowd cheer me on. Now, I’m going to hear the crowd boo us. It’s a full-circle moment. I’m just looking forward to having fun and playing football again,” Mack said, via Pro Football Talk.

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Raiders & Mack Have Already Had Their Revenge

When a player plays against their former team, the narrative is almost always about his it’s a revenge game. Mack was traded by the Raiders four years ago by Gruden and the coach is no longer with the team. The first time he played against the Raiders came in 2019 in London. The Bears got beat and Mack was dominated by right tackle Trent Brown.

Last season, he finally got his revenge against the Raiders and Gruden. In the Week 5 matchup, Mack had a sack and eight combined tackles in what turned out to be Gruden’s last game in Las Vegas. Both sides have had their revenge so there likely won’t be that much extra juice for Mack when he plays the Raiders this season.

Raiders Found Their Mack Replacement

Pass rushers like Mack don’t come around often. He’s one of the few players in the NFL who is elite against the run and the pass. The Raiders had a very difficult time replacing him for the first three seasons after the trade as they were among the worst pass rushing teams in the NFL. Fortunately, the team has finally found an adequate replacement.

Maxx Crosby showed flashes over his first two seasons but took a major leap in 2021. He led the NFL in quarterback pressures last season, per Pro Football Focus, and was named Second-Team All-Pro. Unlike Mack, the Raiders gave Crosby a big contract extension this offseason. They now have the pass rusher of the future that Mack was supposed to be.

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