ALAMEDA – Houston Texans quarterback Brock Osweiler doesn’t have fond memories of time spent with Khalil Mack. He faced the Raiders edge rusher once last year while playing for Denver, and it’s safe to say he didn’t have a great experience.
Mack sacked Osweiler five times in the second half, single-handedly destroying a game the then-upstart Raiders won 15-12. Outsiders considered that a breakout game, though Mack had already earned league-wide respect during a season-plus of disruption after being selected No. 5 overall in the 2014 NFL draft.
Osweiler will meet Mack again on Monday night at Mexico City’s Estadio Azteca and hopes this game doesn’t end like that one did. Tallying five sacks in one game might be a one-time thing, but Mack has created havoc with less.
As usual, the Raiders pass rusher has downplayed seeing Osweiler again.
“It’s a new team and a new year,” Mack said. “He has different weapons over there. It’s going to be a new challenge.”
The Texans will meet Mack on a roll. He has six sacks in his last four games, with steady pressure throughout those games. Mack has done a good job overcoming teams scheming heavily against him, though his contributions have been steady despite a sack surge in recent weeks.
“Teams are going to do different things to try to slow him down just like we’ll do offensively against people that we know we have to account for,” Raiders head coach Jack Del Rio said. “He’s one of those kind of guys that you have to account for. He’s giving great effort. We have good design, and he’s going to get his numbers.”
The Texans would prefer they didn’t come against them. Osweiler doesn’t want to end up on the ground five times like he did last December.
“Any time you play against a player like Khalil Mack, you need to respect what he brings to the table and you need to have answers for what he brings to the table,” Osweiler said. “We’re very fortunate to have a phenomenal offensive coaching staff here, led by (offensive coordinator George) Godsey and (head coach Bill) O’Brien. I’m sure they’ll have answers for him. But without a question, we are well aware of what Khalil Mack’s capable of doing – obviously I experienced it firsthand last year – and we will have answers for him.”
The Texans have committed to getting the ball out fast, which has negatively impacted Osweiler’s horrible 5.6 yards per pass attempt. Even still, he has been sacked 17 times in nine games, and must be respectful of Mack’s tenacity going up against a right tackle in Chris Clark who has given up significant pressure in recent weeks.
“I think the first thing when you turn on the tape with Khalil that jumps out is just his motor,” Osweiler said. “He never stops. He has a very high football motor, he plays extremely hard, he’s a very physical guy but yet he has a ton of speed as well. So, he is a very gifted, special, unique football player and you need to give him the respect that he deserves.”