Joniak: Khalil Mack Creating Havoc

September 18, 2018 - 4:48 pm
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LAKE FOREST (WBBM Newsradio) -- Fresh off a 24-17 win against the Seahawks on Monday night at Solider Field, the Bears were back to work Tuesday.

First impression

Thank you Oakland, thank you -- that's what they're saying in Chicago. Every team the Bears play will dedicate multiple resources to keep Khalil Mack off their quarterbacks, and he will still get home and cause havoc. Mack’s two first halves in his budding Chicago tenure have been dominant, and it's causing a feeding frenzy up front on the Bears defense. Mack owns two sacks, two forced fumbles, a fumble recovery, an interception and a touchdown in his first two games. 

Chipped repeatedly by a tight end, Mack still managed to get pressure and create opportunities for everybody else Monday.

"That’s what he’s going to see," coach Matt Nagy said. "What does that do though?"

It allowed safety Eddie Jackson, defensive tackle Eddie Goldman, outside linebacker Aaron Lynch and inside linebacker Danny Trevathan to record sacks and defensive coordinator Vic Fangio to turn up the blitz pressure on Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson on nine different occasions.   

Mack’s effort and consistency is making the entire roster play harder and has a trickle-down effect to the offense.

"He raises the level of every player on defense," Nagy said. "What that does (is) it’s infectious and it raises the level of your offense."

With stationary Cardinals quarterback Sam Bradford likely waiting for Mack and the Bears defense next Sunday, look for more big plays from the unit. 

Second thought

Pro Football Focus detailed that Bears quarterback Mitchell Trubisky had a 107.2 rating on passes that traveled 10 yards or less Monday night but a 1.6 rating on passes longer than 10 yards, including two interceptions. The shots downfield will keep coming from Trubisky, Nagy said.

"When you start just dinking and dunking and going short throws or trying to run the ball too much, then it’s advantage defense," Nagy said. "You’ve got to be able to make them use the whole field, and so we’re never going to stop doing that."

Nagy hopes for more production from the running backs than they had against the Seahawks. 

"We just didn't average enough yards in the run game," he said.

On 27 attempts, the Bears earned 3.2 yards per carry. Running backs Jordan Howard and Tarik Cohen combined for just 43 yards on 18 carries.

Third degree

Nagy saw growth and development in Trubisky’s second start, pointing to improved footwork, balance, timing and better vision diagnosing the defense. 

"It can definitely improve but better from Week 1," Nagy said.

That week-to-week growth is exactly what Nagy has been preaching from day one. Trubisky threw a pair of interceptions -- one off a deflection -- and the Seahawks perhaps could've swiped more. 

"Any time you throw an interception, it can be hard on you as a quarterback," Nagy said. "We’re preaching as a staff and together as players a next-play mentality approach. What I thought was growth yesterday was the fact that he didn’t let a bad play effect his next play or next series."

Nagy is trying to remain realistic about the development of Trubisky in this offense.  

"We’re not there yet, but I feel like we’re getting steps in the right direction," he said. "We’re certainly not going the other way. We’re growing."

It is up to Nagy and the coaching staff to put Trubisky and the rest of the offense in the best possible position to make plays. Then it is up to the players to make it happen. The system works, and Nagy is managing the development of Trubisky from what he has learned over the last decade. 

Fourth-and-short

The Cardinals have no touchdowns in six of the eight total quarters they've played, scoring touchdowns only in the fourth quarters of their first two-games.  The Bears lead the NFL with 10 sacks and share the league lead with five forced fumbles, while also allowing the third-fewest first downs in the league. 

Jeff Joniak is the play-by-play announcer for the Bears broadcasts on WBBM Newsradio 780 & 105.9 FM. Follow him on Twitter @JeffJoniak