For the first time this year I have managed to get through a complete game of coaching tape so I present to you for your pleasure the inaugural 2019 Amateur Adventures in Film post where I decided to cheer myself up after the fourth Bengals loss this season by taking a look at Khalil Mack playing the Minnesota Vikings, just in time for his revenge game against the team that drafted him and then traded him away.
The first thing that really struck me about this game is going to sound odd, as watching Mack the thing that I was most reminded of was a previous AAF post where I looked at the Cleveland Browns left tackle Joe Thomas. I know it sounds odd to compare a defensive edge player to a left tackle, but the thing that struck me about this game was not Mack’s explosive destruction to the Vikings offence so much as the control and balance he played with throughout the game. That is what brought that particular Joe Thomas game to mind, Mack was playing inside the system, setting the edge, and yes doing things that looked spectacular when the game called for it but the Bears defence is such a good unit that Mack was playing in a controlled way that seemed different to the way say a JJ Watt or Aaron Donald play when they’re wrecking a game. It is also different for an edge player as if you don’t play with discipline then you open passing/running lanes for the defence, where as for Watt/Donald their role in the defence is to cause that chaos from the interior of the line.
That said, there were plenty of moments where Mack went around the offensive tackle with speed or used speed to power to cut in and pressure Kirk Cousins. However, whilst there were longer plays left on the field by Cousins, one of the things about him getting the ball out of his hands quickly to players running shorter routes was he did limit the Bears ability to get to him, yet he still got sacked six times. Probably the biggest of Mack’s plays was at the start of the second half where he dipped under left tackle Riley Reiff’s attempted block and got a free run to Cousins and came swiping in for the strip sack. It is on plays like that when Mack can turn a game for you. In fact, the only time the Vikings moved the ball consistently was on their touchdown drive where they caught the Bears with Mack off the field and took advantage as they were running no huddle for most of the drive. It was also the only time they managed to keep the Bears’ defence off balance and they still relied on under passes to Dalvin Cook as well as Stefon Diggs making plays from the edge.
Throughout the game Mack seemed to move between the left and right edge, rushing from a three-point stance or as an outside linebacker and the Bears mixed up their fronts a lot when not playing in their base 3-4 defence. I came away very impressed, but more at the control and precise application of power. It may not have been the most explosive tape I have watched but it was a lot of fun to look at, and I have a feeling that Mack will be out to do a lot more today against his old team in London. I think those heading to the first of the London games are in the treat – I’m a little bit jealous to tell you the truth and I really don’t understand why you would trade a player of this talent away. Sometimes you have to say to hell with the value you are being offered, this is a cornerstone player, and to my mind Khalil Mack is absolutely one of those players.