The only time Seattle quarterback Russell Wilson has ever faced Khalil Mack in a game that mattered occurred in 2014 when the Chicago linebacker was a rookie for the Oakland Raiders.
The Seahawks won 30-24 in Seattle with Mack never sacking Wilson. In fact, Mack, the fifth overall pick in that year's NFL Draft, had just four sacks that entire season.
One defensive player of the year award (2016), three Pro Bowls, two All-Pro teams and 37 1/2 sacks later, Mack will get another crack at tacking down Wilson when the Bears (0-1) host Seattle (0-1) Monday night in Chicago.
"I have a lot of respect for him and how he plays the game, he’s as tough as it gets," Wilson told reporters on Friday. "Watching the film from their Green Bay game and how he was really causing a storm was pretty impressive."
"You don’t really get to see that many defensive ends making the kind of plays he’s making and the things he’s doing," Wilson said. "I got a lot of respect for him and how he plays the game. I’ve gotten to know him over the past few years. He’s fun to watch and hopefully he won’t do too much in this game.”
It's difficult to imagine Mack not doing much against a Seattle team that allowed Denver to sack Wilson six times, three by linebacker Von Miller.
Seattle coach Pete Carroll said Miller and Mack are different players and athletes.
"But they’re both extremely effective and really difficult," Carroll said. "Khalil is just a stronger looking guy. He plays in a more at you (style and) brings the attack to you. Von’s all over the place. He’s so, so athletic and so quick. They’re just different style guys but their effect is very similar.”
Plus, Wilson placed the blame for two or three sacks on shoulders because he tried to do too much by extending plays, resulting in unnecessary sacks for huge losses (one for 22 yards) when he could have thrown the ball away. If he does that against the Bears, someone will likely track him down in the same fashion.
"It’ll be another great challenge for us, going in there Monday night, but we’re excited about playing," Schottenheimer told reporters. 'We know last week wasn’t good enough. We expect better and we expect it to happen this weekend.”
Carroll was asked how a team can combat elite players such as Mack and Miller, and said that there are a number of strategies that can be used.
“You can help with different players on the tackles, you can move the line (in) that direction, you can get the ball out real quick," Carroll said. "You can do a lot of stuff that’s kind of the classic stuff you do against special pass rushers, particularly guys on the outside."
Executing those strategies is the challenge. Sometimes, it doesn't matter what you do against such elite pass rushers. They are coming no matter what. Seattle must expect that on Monday and hope to
"To be as good as he is, to be the player of the year in the league, you have to have all the attributes and he has them," Carroll said. "Speed, strength, explosion, savvy, motor – he has all that stuff. He’s just getting in shape too, so he’s going to get better.”
Preferably for Seattle, Mack holds off from becoming much better until Week 3.