Khalil Mack and Akiem Hicks reigned, but Bears ‘can’t just do it for 2 quarters’
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Bears outside linebacker Khalil Mack became the first NFL player in two years to have a sack, forced fumble, fumble recovery, interception and defensive touchdown in one game. The last one to do it: Mack himself.
Defensive end Akiem Hicks was just as dominant in the first half Sunday night — “A force,” coach Matt Nagy said — and had a sack and a forced fumble.
“I’m going to say this for both sides [of the ball], though — we can’t just do it for two quarters,” Nagy said. “We’ve got to do it for four. And our guys know that.”
In the second half — when Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers was limited to short dropbacks out of shotgun snaps — the Bears had no sacks.
“When those things happen, we gotta do a better job of getting our hands up in passing lanes,” defensive line coach Jay Rodgers said Monday. “You’re not gonna get three seconds and sit there and design what your rush plan is going to be because the ball is out before you even know it.”
Outside linebackers coach Brandon Staley said edge rushers needed to do the same.
If Mack and Hicks continue to dominate, the Bears figure to see even more short dropbacks.
“The biggest thing is, we need to block shots — trying to contest passes,” Staley said. “I thought we did that a couple of times. . . . We didn’t knock any down, but you saw some hands up.”
Gruden: Mack wanted to leave
Mack was traded to the Bears for a reason, Raiders coach Jon Gruden told ESPN.
“Obviously, Khalil Mack didn’t want to play here,” Gruden said before his team made its debut Monday night. “That’s what’s being missed here. He was under contract. . . . He never showed up for an OTA, never showed up for training camp, and it was obvious he wasn’t gonna show up for the season.”
The Bears aren’t complaining — and not just because of Mack’s dominant performance against the Packers. Staley said he’s a good example for their younger players.
“He’s a really vibrant guy,” Staley said. “He’s really got an energy about playing and practicing and training.
“And so I think that’s the biggest thing: his example. The way he takes the field during practice, the way he is in meetings. For him to get here seven days ago, take a full game plan, then apply it to a really good opponent just shows — to younger guys, whether it’s offense or defense — what can be done. And what’s expected of a guy that’s of his caliber.”
This and that
The name of the Bears’ T-formation play to start the game that was a nod to franchise history: “Papa Bear Left.”
† Nagy said the Bears escaped the game without serious injury.