To get a sense of how the Khalil Mack trade went over in the Bears' locker room and what kind of player Ryan Pace acquired, I sat down with right tackle Bobby Massie for some insight. Our conversation can also be heard on this week's Under Center Podcast. Enjoy:
JJ: What was your reaction when you found out Saturday?
Massie: What was your reaction? I probably had the same reaction you did.
JJ: I rolled over to my wife and said “holy s***.”
Massie: Yeah. I wasn’t expecting that.
JJ: How did you find out?
Massie: Text messages through friends and other teammates. That’s how I found out.
JJ: Could you even believe that a guy like Khalil Mack was available and then that your team got him?
Massie: I mean, I knew everything that you knew up to the point that we signed him. I knew the Raiders were looking to do something with him. I was surprised that we got him but it was a good thing that we did. We already had a great defense and then him coming in just made them even better. I mean, yeah (laughs), I think that’s pretty much it.
JJ: What kind of message does it send to the locker room that Ryan Pace was willing to trade two first-round picks to get him?
Massie: We’re trying to make a push this year. Like I said, our defense is already great and we have a lot of guys that can get home on the front seven and just adding him it going to free up everybody else because you can’t block everybody. And with our secondary being lock-down as it is, the quarterback can only hold on to the ball so long before he’s going to get hit. I mean, it’s great, the organization they know what this team’s capable of and to add another piece of the puzzle, it just helps solidify this.
JJ: Forgive me for not knowing this, but did you ever go against Mack?
Massie: I’ve never personally played against him.
JJ: When you are facing an elite edge guy like that, though, the amount of resources it takes to commit to him in a gameplan, whether it’s a tackle, a tight end, a running back/a tackle, a guard, a tight end, what does that do for an offensive gameplan when you have to commit so much to stopping one guy?
Massie: It changes the gameplan because you gotta get four sets of hands on him, if not more. You have to gameplan for him. I highlight the Super Bowl, you see what happens if you don’t gameplan with Von Miller. He can single-handedly wreck a whole game. The smart thing to do is to put extra guys out there for him.
JJ: So let’s say he’s on the left and you put extra guys on him, and now you’re on the right — hypothetically, you’re the right tackle for the Packers and you now have Leonard Floyd coming at you one-on-on.
Massie: You gotta nut up, man. You gotta nut up. Because you got extra guys over there helping to block one guy, the other four guys gotta nut up and just get it done.
JJ: Can you imagine, too, with you guys, if you line up Mack and Hicks on the same side of the ball?
Massie: That’s a dangerous side. That’s a dangerous side of the line. But it’s going to be fun to watch this year. It’s going to be fun to watch.
JJ: You’ve seen these defense from last year, growing now into training camp this year, you said guys are starting to hit home a little more even this training camp. So this defense already seemed to be on the path to being better than it was last year. So what did you see from Floyd, Hicks, these guys in terms of their ability to get to the quarterback before Khalil even came in here?
Massie: They’re just worked in the offseason, man. They got a nice arsenal of moves, guys got quicker, stronger and they just worked at their craft in the offseason. It’s not just those two guys. I mean, we got at least four guys on the edge that can get home and three on the interior that can get there too. These guys, they put the work in the offseason and it showed.
JJ: I don’t know how much highlights you’ve watched of Khalil, but watching him kind of briefly his hand play seems incredible. Just his ability to use his hands — as a tackle, when you have a guy who can do certain things to gain that leverage with his hands, what’s sort of the counter to that?
Massie: I mean, your hands and your feet gotta be exact, just as precise as his. I can sit here and try to break down how to block him, but at the end of the day, once you get hit in the mouth, all that s*** goes out the window. Just try to keep him on your outside shoulder and — I don’t know. I haven’t played against him, so I can’t tell you how to block him. Yeah.
JJ: Awfully nice to have him on your side, then?
Massie: Yeah, it’s good that he’s on our team. It’s very good.