One NFL Coordinator Doesn’t Think Khalil Mack Made Enough “Wow” Plays Last Year
Jeremy Fowler and ESPN’s football crew are going to some fun lengths to get a feel for what’s to come this season.
Fowler interviewed more than 50 league executives, coaches, scouts, players, and others in an attempt to get a feeling for the best players at every position. Because there’s nothing to get us primed for the football season to come like getting a lay of the land from the folks who know it best. And in that vein, there is no one like Khalil Mack, who remains one of the NFL’s best and most fearsome pass-rushers.
And yet, one anonymous NFL coach doesn’t think it’s enough.
Fowler relays that some in NFL circles question if Mack, who checks in as the ESPN voters’ No. 4-ranked pass-rusher, was actually great. One anonymous coordinator said they didn’t believe Mack’s play merited such praise, saying the Bears’ pass-rusher “simply didn’t win enough for a player of his caliber.”
The coordinator added: “His ‘wow’ plays are unbelievable. There just weren’t enough of them.”
Tough crowd. It was just a few days ago when we were discussing Pro Football Focus listing Mack as the second-best defensive player in football right now, checking in as the sixth best overall player on PFF’s top-50 … no small accomplishment. For what it’s worth, Mack came away with 9 sacks, 11 tackles-for-loss, 13 QB Hits, 3 forced fumbles, 2 recoveries, and an interception last season. He also hip-tossed a top-tier tackle after sacking Tom Brady, stiff-armed Kirk Cousins into the next week after an interception, and provided essential hype talks to teammates. That’s a darn solid season, but it’s worth noting that perhaps it could’ve been better. Especially when considering a third consecutive season with a declining double-team rate that comes while his win rate has taken a dip each of those years.
There are two reads on this. On the one hand, we can view this as a coordinator who sees Mack slowing down. Remember, he spent a bunch of time on the injury report last season despite not missing any games. Moreover, we’ve seen his snap share and work load ease up in the past few years. But on the other hand, Mack can read this and put it up as bulletin board material. As if someone of his stature needs more motivation.
Let’s be real. Mack was the Bears’ most valuable player in 2020. And he had to be great for last year’s Bears to make the postseason. There’s no talking around that. In the end, if Mack is a top-4 pass-rusher again in 2021, we’ll look back at the reports regarding his demise having been greatly exaggerated.