Bears coaches: Khalil Mack has ‘something to prove’

Bears coaches know that Khalil Mack has been working out. They’ve seen him. Their star outside linebacker attended offseason video meetings from the weight room in his basement.

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Bears outside linebacker Khalil Mack is blocked by the Chiefs in December.

Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

Bears coaches know that Khalil Mack has been working out. They’ve seen him.

Their star outside linebacker attended offseason video meetings from the weight room in his basement.

“He’s training like I have never seen anybody train before,” outside linebackers coach Ted Monachino said in a video chat Thursday.

Mack vowed when last season ended to use his down year as fuel, and his coaches have noticed.

“Motivation is not an issue with Khalil; never has been,” Monachino said. “But what I’ll tell you is that he has approached this offseason with something to prove — and that’s something that I think we all can be encouraged by.

“I think that that’s something that’s exciting, when a player of his caliber approaches his work the way he has approached it.”

Mack — whom NFL Network ranked as the league’s third-best player before the 2019 season — didn’t live up to his lofty standards last year. His 8½ sacks and 14 quarterback hits were his fewest since he had four and 11, respectively, as a rookie in 2014.

“I know that that’s a situation we’d all like to get fixed, sooner rather than later,” Monachino said. “But what I will tell you is that his lack of effort, that never showed — there was never that. His approach to his weekly plan and to his attention to detail as a rusher never waned.

“I can’t really attribute a lower sack number to one thing or another. I just know that going into 2020, that’s a high, high priority for all of us, especially for Khalil. Nobody wants to be better and dominant down-in and down-out than Khalil Mack.”

General manager Ryan Pace took a major step toward helping Mack when he cut outside linebacker Leonard Floyd, who mustered three sacks last year, and replaced him with Robert Quinn, who has 80½ in his nine-year career.

Mack, in theory, should see fewer blockers if opponents also have to worry about Quinn.

“You can look and say, go back and say, ‘How many times was [Mack] doubled, was he tripled?’ ” defensive coordinator Chuck Pagano said. “You know, did they leave an extra protector in there? How many times did he get singled? How many of those times did he win?”

Pagano has spent the offseason trying to help Mack schematically.

“I know I’ll be better and can be better to put him and put the rest of the guys in position to be successful,” he said. “So a lot of that falls on me. And I take responsibility for that. And I’m accountable for that.”

Not that Mack would ever use that as an excuse.

“Khalil would never say that,” Pagano said. “He would say, ‘Hey, look, I’ve got to win. I don’t care how many guys you put on me.’”

That’s why he’s training.

“I just think that this is a special guy that has something to prove and has approached the last several months with a chip on his shoulder,” Monachino said. “And I think that’s good for everybody.”

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