After having what for him was a down season, Chicago Bears linebacker Khalil Mack wants to have a monster year in 2020. With more help around him, he could have a historic one.

The Chicago Bears struggled mightily in 2019. After finishing with a record of 12-4 and the NFC Division title, they finished 2019 at just 8-8 and with a ton of questions.

One area that didn’t struggle was the defense. Despite dealing with a lot of injuries and trying to adjust to a new defensive coordinator, the unit finished fourth in points allowed. It was the defense that kept the Bears alive in more than a few games, carrying games until the offense found its way. Things could’ve been very ugly if the defense didn’t play as well as it did.

One player on the defense who didn’t have the season he expected was Khalil Mack. Mack didn’t have a bad season, however. He did, after all, make another Pro Bowl appearance. He didn’t play up to his standards, however, recording just 8.5 sacks, his lowest total since his rookie season. That ended a four-season streak of having double-digit sack totals.

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Again, Mack didn’t have a bad season. He finished second in the NFL with 30 quarterback hurries, two behind Aaron Donald. That was an amazing total considering he constantly faced double and even triple teams in every game.

There are several reasons Mack faced so much traffic trying to get to the quarterback. The first one was the injury to defensive lineman Akiem Hicks. Hicks himself is a beast getting into the opponent’s backfield but suffered an elbow injury that forced him to miss 11 games.

With Hicks providing attention and freeing him up, Mack was on his way to another monster season. He recorded 4.5 sacks in the first four games. After Hicks went down, Mack had only four sacks for the rest of the season.

Hicks is healthy again and ready to have another big season himself. If he does, that bodes well for Mack.

Another reason for Mack’s down season was the play of linebacker Leonard Floyd. With Mack taking a lot of attention, Floyd saw a lot of one-on-one matchups. He couldn’t take advantage of that so teams kept on sending players after Mack.

The Chicago Bears rectified that situation through free agency. They cut Floyd and signed Robert Quinn, another top-notch player. Quinn is a two-time Pro Bowl player and a former All-Pro first-team player.

The combination of Hicks, Quinn, and Mack will wreak havoc on opposing offenses. Teams cannot double all three of them so they’ll each have one-on-one opportunities. That will provide Mack with a chance to turn those hurries from 2019 into sacks in 2020.

In fact, we should expect Mack to have a historic season. The Chicago Bears single-season record for sacks. That record could go down if things work out for Mack. He is a great talent and we saw what he did in 2018 without a real offseason (12.5 sacks, 6 forced fumbles, 4 passes defended, and one interception, run back for a touchdown).

Now imagine a Mack who is motivated to make up for last season and one who has a lot of help around him. It could get ugly for Bears opponents in 2020.

2 COMMENTS

  1. A modest improvement from the offense could spur this defense to greater heights than the 2018 defense saw!

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