Khalil Mack didn’t record a sack in his 2019 debut, yet still made a remarkable impact against the Green Bay Packers Thursday night.
Outside linebackers coach Ted Monachino — who coached Terrell Suggs in his NFL Defensive Player of the Year season back in 2011 — said Mack made a positive impact on the vast majority of the plays he was in, likely referring to pass-rushing snaps (Mack played 58 total snaps).
“Khalil played as well as I’ve ever had a guy play in a game,” Monachino said. “I know he would’ve preferred to impact the game more but from a down-to-down basis he impacted 31 out of the 34 plays he was in, in our favor. And that’s 88 percent, that’s a really high percentage. So thrilled with the way he played.
“He’s an eyelash away from making five plays in that game and those five plays eventually got finished by another player on our team. So I think that he played really, really well. I know that as people are watching tape they’re seeing the same thing.”
A lot was made prior to the start of the season about just how many sacks — 15? 20? — Mack could rack up. But what we saw Thursday night was a reminder of what every NFL coach will tell you: You don’t always have to get a sack to impact a play, whether it’s collapsing the pocket or forcing a quarterback out of rhythm with pressure.
Monachino’s goal was to make things as simple as possible for Mack and Leonard Floyd, who exploded with a two-sack game (equaling half his 2018 sack total). Notably: The Bears only dropped Mack into coverage twice. He was dropped into coverage on four or more snaps in nine of his 15 games with the Bears last year, including the playoffs.
Mack, too, played well against the run, making five tackles.
“I think that when we can get that to those special players — what you don’t want to do is put a bunch of rocks in their pocket that they can’t play fast,” Monachino said. “And so that’s what we did, we tried to keep it as simple as we could and we’re going to continue that trend all year.”
Thursday was Monachino’s first time working with Mack during a game, and there was another aspect about the All-Pro edge rusher that impressed the veteran coach. Mack was arguably held on multiple plays on which no flag was thrown, but did not let any frustration show from any perceived missed calls.
“He is a super teammate,” Monachino said. “He didn’t feel once ounce of frustration the other night. All he did was celebrate with his teammates. And I had a chance to talk to him during the game and he huffed at me. He was like, come on, he said don’t worry about me. This is awesome. We’re doing great.
“So him being a great teammate and him being one of our best workers and also one of our best guys really ramps everybody else’s game up. I’m not worried about Khalil and neither is he.”
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