When the Chicago Bears traded for Khalil Mack back in 2018 and saw him go on to become an All Pro, fans were enjoying a hysterical honeymoon period.
Sack after sack and forced fumble after forced fumble, Mack absolutely wrecked games by himself. The numbers were pretty astounding for that season on Chicago’s defense. All around, that unit was stellar.
However, after that season, the Bears’ defense appeared to have taken a step back under Chuck Pagano. Many of the same players, yet no where near the same production — some guys faded in the background just a little bit.
Khalil Mack was one of those players, at least according to some people.
Chicago Bears edge rusher Khalil Mack has never not been an elite talent in this league.
Although Mack’s numbers were down in 2019 and 2020, his impact was still felt. His value was still sky high. But, not everybody looks beyond just the raw numbers.
CBS Sports writer Jared Dubin published his list of top 10 NFL edge rushers a few days ago, and Mack was no where to be found. The list also included interior linemen, but the fact Mack didn’t even crack the top 10 was shocking.
However, Dubin might be one of the only “experts” who believe Mack to be outside the top 10. Though that article and graphic caught people’s attention on social media, let’s not forget Pro Football Focus ranked Mack as the number one most valuable edge defender of 2020 based on wins above replacement (WAR).
Now, recently, ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler polled more than 50 league executives, coaches and personnel to form his own top 10. It seems as though Mack isn’t going anywhere soon — he came in at no. 4.
Although his sack numbers have been down, Mack is still as disruptive as ever. He has had hardly any help on the opposite side over the past two seasons. Whether it’s been Robert Quinn or Leonard Floyd, Mack hasn’t had production on the other side. It’s been all on his shoulders to create pressure. Hopefully that changes in 2021, but for the sake of this argument, Mack has been just as good as he’s always been.
Some fans need to hear these types of things. Not everyone understands the impact certain players have on the game unless it shows up on the stat sheet. But remember, box scores and stat sheets don’t always tell the entire story. Just ask Tristan Wirfs.
This coming season, hopefully we get to see more of the physical evidence on paper. The fans who want to see more sacks and big plays out of Mack aren’t alone, and the Bears’ new defensive coordinator Sean Desai should be able to help manifest just that.
Desai was one of Vic Fangio’s closest colleagues and his right-hand man. He knows how to get the most out of his star players. In 2021, expect to see the aggressive, menacing Mack we all first saw back in 2018. He hasn’t gone anywhere.