Khalil Mack stresses urgency next 2 weeks — ‘Time is not on our side’
The Bears’ season is starting to feel fleeting to Khalil Mack. The only way to change that is to make it go longer.
The Bears’ season is starting to feel fleeting to Khalil Mack.
The only way to change that is to make it go longer. The Bears’ path to the playoff involves beating the Jaguars and then the Packers, and hoping for the Cardinals to lose one of their last two games.
“Just understanding the guys in the locker room what this means to us, what this game means to us,” Mack said Wednesday. “Just understanding the opportunity we have and not wanting to waste this opportunity.
“Time is not on our side. We gave it up those six weeks of losing, so it’s not to make up for that time that we lost.”
It’s on the defense to lead the way. Or at least not fall so far behind.
Over the past four games, the Bears have given up their three highest point totals of the season: 41 to the Packers, 34 to the Lions and 27 to the Vikings. In between the Lions and Packers game, though, they allowed only seven to the Texans.
What makes Mack think the defense will be more consistent the final two weeks?
“The guys in the room, the guys on the field, the guys on the defensive side of the ball,” he said. “Just answering the bell, and answering the challenges that we’ve been facing all year. This is no different ...
“We don’t take this [Jaguars] game lightly. ... [We’re] just understanding that we have to be ready to play our best football.”
Mack is one of the players Nagy is leaning on to help fight the dual distractions of the holidays and a one-win Jaguars team better-served losing the last two games of the season to clinch the No. 1 draft pick. His teammates respect Mack’s intensity.
“He’s always been that way on the field,” Bears coach Matt Nagy said. “And then, off the field, there’s a lot of times where, whether it’s me giving him a phone call or me seeing him in the locker room, just wherever, just in passing, we’ll just talk life — not always football, X’s and O’s — and build that relationship the last three years.
“So, a lot of times I don’t even have to say anything. It’s just one of those, ‘We got you, Coach.’”
After going a month without a sack — Mack didn’t even appear in the box score during the loss to the Lions — he logged a sack for a safety, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery against the Texans. Last week, he recorded a half-sack, bringing his total to eight.
Monday, Mack made his sixth-straight Pro Bowl, a subject he doesn’t dwell on. When Mack praised snubbed inside linebacker Roquan Smith and said “I wish I could give him my bid,” he sounded like he genuinely wanted to.
Asked whether Mack’s recent performance was reflective of him feeling better physically, the outside linebacker talked about “just everyone playing of one accord.” Defensive tackle Bilal Nichols has a sack in each of his last three games. Robert Quinn finally got his second of the season — and first since his first snap of the year — on Sunday, and has looked dangerous all month.
In the Bears’ first 12 games, they totaled 23 sacks; in the last two, they have 10.
The defense, though, needs to be better the last two weeks of the year.
Nagy thinks Mack will drag it in that direction.
“He goes out there and he fights through and battles every day in practice and just fights every day in practice — in a good way,” Nagy said. “You just love that. And I think the other guys see that and feel that, the energy, and where he’s been. It’s pretty special the way he practices and guys just feed off that. A lot of the ways that he leads is through his actions.”