Hard times can often push a team to take drastic measures for improvement. And those times appear to be here for Chicago Bears Defensive Coordinator Chuck Pagano, who has eyes on breaking Khalil Mack out of this mini-funk.
Check it out:
Bears DC Chuck Pagano tells us he's trying to get creative with the usage of Khalil Mack, who didn't appear on the stat sheet in last week's loss to Los Angeles. Mack has one sack over the last six games.
— Jeff Dickerson (@DickersonESPN) November 21, 2019
Mack had no sacks, tackles, tackles-for-loss, quarterback hits, forced fumbles, recovered fumbles, or passes defended in the Bears’ Week 11 loss to the Rams – you know something is wrong when he doesn’t show up on the stat sheet. To see Mack put up a big, fat zero in every important statistical category – in a prime-time game, no less – was the most jarring thing I’ve seen in a box score in quite some time.
So what can Pagano do to help Mack?
I’m not sure cutting back on his coverage would fall into the creative category, but it is an idea. Mack’s 39 coverage snaps are the 16th most among edge rushers, according to Pro Football Focus’ data. And in re-watching the TV broadcast from Sunday, Mack was in coverage far too often for my liking in a game where Jared Goff dropped back 21 times.
Here’s a breakdown:
- Mack was dropped into pass coverage seven times when Jared Goff dropped back to pass. That’s certainly not going to help his cause.
- Neither is the fact that there were four plays in which Mack was on the sideline when Goff was called on to pass. It is quite difficult to pick up a quarterback hit, hurry, pressure, or sack if you are standing on the sidelines.
- There were also four quick screen passes that were called. On those snaps, it would be impossible to come away with any meaningful stats.
Add it all up, and we’re looking at 15 occasions in which Mack had zero shot at making a play on the quarterback in a game where Goff was asked to drop back a total of 21 times. That leaves us with six pass-rushing snaps, which simply isn’t enough. Not when those snaps are often met with chip blockers, double teams, and plays that had as many as three blockers seemingly assigned to keep eyes on Mack.
Asking Mack to drop into coverage less seems too simplistic. But it’s a start.