Bears See Khalil Mack 'With Something To Prove'

Mack is plenty motivated after a drop in production in 2019.

Chris Emma
June 18, 2020 - 3:38 pm

(670 The Score) Bears star pass rusher Khalil Mack is never one to do much talking. This offseason, his actions have spoken louder than words.

Mack is coming off a 2019 campaign in which he saw a considerable drop in production from recent seasons. His frustration was clear at times, and he's acting on it ahead of the 2020 season.

Bears coaches have recognized Mack's different drive in his at-home workouts and private field work, as well as his active level of participation in virtual team meetings.

"Motivation is not an issue with Khalil, never has been," outside linebackers coach Ted 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.

"This is a special guy that has something to prove and has approached the last several months with a chip on his shoulder, and I think that’s good for everybody."

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Bears defensive coordinator Chuck Pagano recognizes it too.

"We want to be the best defense in the National Football League, and he wants to be one of the best players in the National Football League," Pagano said. "But more importantly, he just wants to win."

Mack posted 8.5 sacks in 16 games last season. Those would be strong numbers for most, but it marked his fewest sacks since his rookie season in 2014. Part of Mack's drop in production was due to injuries to others on the defense, notably with defensive lineman Akiem Hicks missing 11 games last season.

The Bears have since invested in their pass rush by signing edge rusher Robert Quinn to a five-year, $70-million deal in March. In doing so, they created a dynamic tandem in Mack and Quinn, who had 11.5 sacks for the Cowboys in 2019.

"When they get singled, we know they're going to be productive," Monachino said.

Signing Quinn was part of the Bears' plan to unlock Mack in a way they couldn't last season. The 30-year-old Quinn is considered a significant upgrade over outside linebacker Leonard Floyd, the team's 2016 first-round pick who was released by the Bears when they formed an agreement with Quinn.

The Bears prioritized bringing Mack a strong complement off the opposite edge. Now, it's the task of Pagano to maximize Mack after a step back last season.

"You've got a really talented football player that's really, really eager like the rest of them," Pagano said. "To get back on the football field and compete and win and do it at a high level."

Chris Emma covers the Bears, Chicago’s sports scene and more for Follow him on Twitter @CEmma670.