Better day ahead
Disappointed Mack expecting defense to bounce back against Giants after poor effort vs. Lions
Khalil Mack entered this season saying that last year’s disappointment wasn’t good enough. The Bears’ opener wasn’t, either. The defense gave up 23 points to the Lions and was one D’Andre Swift drop away from allowing the game-winning touchdown.
Only three teams gave up more yards in Week 1 than the Bears, who allowed 426.
The Bears had one sack — by defensive lineman Akiem Hicks. Playing 86% of the Bears’ defensive snaps, Mack had four tackles but never touched the quarterback.
“Everything has to be better,” Mack said Friday. “We know what we’re capable of. It’s going to be another challenge this week going out against another great back [in the Giants’ Saquon Barkley]. It’s gonna be fun, though, man. We look forward to the challenge.”
Defensive coordinator Chuck Pagano said this week to blame him for the poor performance. Mack said to include him on that list, too.
“It’s not up to me or anybody else to make excuses,” Mack said. “He took the blame. I’m gonna take the blame, as well. It’s something that, yeah, that showing wasn’t our defense.”
Mack has been dealing with a knee injury — and doing it in a new way. In his first two seasons with the Bears, Mack was never so much as limited in practice, a testament to his stubborn work ethic. This year, he has been limited in all six regular-season practices. That sort of maintenance should keep him fresher.
Mack is questionable Sunday but will play. “It’s been cool — just understanding how to be a pro and how to approach the game,” Mack said. “It’s nothing really too much different. But I know I’m gonna be ready on Sunday.”
He’ll have help. Outside linebacker Robert Quinn, to whom the Bears pledged $70 million over five years to rush opposite Mack, appears likely to play Sunday after participating in his first full practice of the season Friday. He’ll be a considerable upgrade over Barkevious Mingo, a special-teams standout, and James Vaughters, who appeared in his fourth career game last week.
Sunday’s opponent will help Mack, too — Giants left tackle Andrew Thomas, the fourth overall pick in this year’s draft, will be making his second career start. He allowed four pressures in his debut Monday night against the Steelers.
“Regardless of who’s in front of you, man, you’ve got to take advantage,” he said. “So, rookie or not, I know from film he’s done some good things, even though they didn’t get the win last week.”
It would’ve been easy for Mack to get frustrated last week. Instead, he tried to rally the defense on the sideline.
“When he makes his statements — if we all agree on something’s going right or going wrong — it’s really just being a positive reinforcement because we need a leader,” Quinn said. “He’s been here. He’s that guy. One of the guys.
“Sometimes it’s just, make sure guys stay focused all the way through, especially with this weird situation we’re going through . . . . It’s just more positive reinforcement. Just because you’re yelling, it doesn’t mean you can’t take anything positive out of it.”
Outside linebackers coach Ted Monachino understands Mack’s intensity by now.
“I know this: It’s really important to him that the team plays good defense every snap,” he said. “And he’s going to do everything in his power to make sure he holds down his box without question.
“And this is a guy that, the production will come. We all know that. It’ll come.”
The Giants ruled out safety Adrian Colbert (quadriceps) for Sunday’s game. Wide receiver Golden Tate and linebacker Carter Coughlin are questionable with hamstring injuries. ✶
Bears outside linebacker Khalil Mack had four tackles but no sacks in the season opener against the Lions in Detroit. The Bears had only one sack.