Khalil Mack is a threat to make a game-changing play on any snap. It took him less than two quarters to get it done for the Bears on Sunday night.
After Aaron Rodgers left with a leg injury, backup quarterback DeShone Kizer came in and sparked the Green Bay Packers offense with a much-needed drive into the redzone.
It looked like he would get a field goal at the very least and put points on the board for Green Bay, but Mack did his thing on third down, ripping the ball out of the quarterback’s hand to force the turnover and maintain the first-half shutout.
The Packers’ right tackle Bryan Bulaga actually didn’t do a bad job. Kizer doomed himself by fleeing the pocket to the right, taking away Bulaga’s leverage and running right into the arms of the incoming Mack.
The Pro Bowl outside linebacker did the rest, locating the ball and forcing the turnover in a show of brute strength. So far, Mack looks well worth the blockbuster trade and record-breaking contract.
One season was all it took for Khalil Mack to enter the conversation among the all-time best Bears players.
Six forced fumbles, 12.5 sacks, 10 tackles for loss, four pass breakups and one pick six kept him in the Defensive Player of the Year conversation despite an ankle injury.
It’s hard to stack one dominant season against players who maintained excellence over multiple years, but Hall of Fame writers Dan Pompei and Don Pierson did just that in their ranking of the top 100 Bears players of all time.
For Mack’s efforts in 2018, he came in 60th on the list, one spot behind former defensive end Julius Peppers.
Richard Dent is the only player in Bears history to record more than 12.5 sacks in a season, and Mack’s production was tied for the third best year for the franchise since they started recording sacks in 1982.
Peppers hit double-digit sacks twice in his four years in Chicago with three trips to the Pro Bowl, but Pompei and Pierson may have been hesitant to rank Mack too highly given how little time he’s spent at Halas Hall.
The star outside linebacker is not the 60th most talented player in team history, but in terms of best contributions while on the Bears, his lack of tenure could be what keeps him lower on the list.
If he continues at his current rate, he should rise near the top of the rankings after another few seasons.
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The summer days of the offseason are prime ranking season, and the Bears official website is entering the mix as part of the team’s 100th season celebration.
Hall of Fame writers Dan Pompei and Don Pierson ranked the top 100 players in franchise history for their upcoming centennial scrapbook, and Monday the team released the first 25 names on the list.
The biggest standout was quarterback Jay Cutler, who ranked 85th.
Plenty of Hall of Famers should rank above the Bears’ all-time leading passer, but 84 is quite a few.
It’s hard to compare a modern quarterback to players from previous decades, like 82nd-ranked George Blanda, but Cutler even came in behind the likes of wide receivers Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery, neither of whom spent more than five years in Chicago.
Third-year safety Eddie Jackson also made an appearance at 96 on the list, and beloved former long snapper Patrick Mannelly started off the list at 100.