Bears fans – and really the NFL in general – are used to a certain level of production from Khalil Mack. As one of the league's premier pass rushers since being drafted in 2014, Mack quickly earned a reputation for his work behind the scenes, and has been gradually growing into one of the Bears' team leaders since coming over in a 2018 trade.
2019 saw a 'dip' in production for Mack, however – it was the first time since his rookie season that he didn't get to double-digit sack numbers. Some of the more advanced stats still say that Mack is an elite pass rusher in today's NFL, but his 'down' season from a year ago apparently has him working harder than ever:
"I just know that this has been an offseason where we've been in pretty consistent communication back and forth," OLB coach Ted Monachino said. "He's working his tail off. I know that he's found places to work out and fields for space. “Motivation is not an issue with Khalil; never has been. But what I’ll tell you is that he has approached this offseason with something to prove and that’s something that I think we all can be encouraged by. I think that that’s something that’s exciting when a player of his caliber approaches his work the way he has approached it. That’s No. 1.
"No. 2 I would say during this virtual offseason program he has done a remarkable job of starting conversation, asking questions—not only of me and coach Shuey but of the other players in the meeting. He has done an amazing job of leading them and giving them insight into what his process is. I just think that this is a special guy that has something to prove and has approached the last several months with a chip on his shoulder and I think that’s good for everybody.”
The Bears brought in Robert Quinn to help alleviate some of the pressure off Mack, but from the sounds of it, it seems like he's applying plenty of his own. A healthy, freshly-motived Khalil Mack would be a scary sight, and one Bears fans wouldn't soon forget.