KHALIL MACK SAYS BEARS MUST WIN SUNDAY 'BY ANY MEANS'
The one thing that won’t be missing from Sunday’s game between the Chicago Bears (3-4) and the Eagles (4-4) is mutual respect by the teams’ star players and coaches.
The Eagles will be led by franchise quarterback Carson Wentz, who is gradually finding the form that propelled him to League MVP candidate in 2017.
For the season, Wentz is 164 for 264, 1,821 yards with 14 touchdown passes and four interceptions. He has been sacked 16 times.
Wentz, on several occasions, has displayed his ability to escape pressure and throw on the run effectively. He is also nearly automatic on quarterback sneaks. It is a part of his game that was missing last season.
None of this is lost on The Bears No. 1 asset, edge rusher Khalil Mack, who is looking to have an impact on Sunday’s game. That sounds obvious, but the All Pro defender has registered just one sack over the Bears last three games, all losses.
"I've been seeing him on film for the past couple of years," said Mack, who met with Chicago’s media at Halas Hall on Friday. "He's a hell of a quarterback. Stays in the pocket, take hits, a real physical guy, a magician back there. He can duck and dodge and still make throws that a lot of quarterbacks don't really make. You know that you got your hands full this week."
Mack talked about matching up with Eagles rookie left tackle Andre Dillard. Dillard has played the last two games in place of starter Jason Peters, who is out with an injury.
"He's a good player, I know he was a great player in college," Mack said of Dillard. "He's been doing some good things for them. It's going to be cool. Not sure what's going to happen as far as matchup-wise, but it is what it is. It's a situation where it's going to be exciting whoever's out there. It don't really matter.”
Eagles head coach Doug Pederson was asked if Mack will get moved around across line on Sunday, testing several spots on the Birds O-line. But he also acknowledged how tough this will be for Dillard, who played well against the Buffalo Bills last Sunday, an Eagles 31-13 win.
“I would expect that in this game. We are anticipating that,” Pederson said this week. “They do move [Mack] around on both edges and also inside. Something that's a little different with them, just trying to utilize his strengths as a pass rusher. Andre has played well the last two games. This will be probably the biggest challenge and biggest test for him in his young career. He's had a great week. He prepares. He studies the tape and he'll be ready.”
Wentz said everyone on offense will know where Mack is at all times.
"Any time you got a playmaker like Khalil on the other side and the way he can change a game pretty quickly, you're aware, you're always aware," Wentz said at his press conference Wednesday. "By no means are you afraid, but you're aware. So, offensively you're going to put yourself in the best position to be cognizant of that and still do what we do best. "I think we're all going to be aware of where he's at when he's moving around and all those things, Kelce up front does a great job making the calls and doing that stuff, again we're going to be aware but not afraid."
Teams have done a good job preventing Mack from ruining their game plan over the last three games. Mack said it is nothing new to him.
"It's something that I'm kind of used to in a sense,” He said. “It just depends on how aggressive they're going to be, early or late in the game, but just understanding situational football and knowing what's going to happen and having situations where we can have movement and all these different things. Just being ready for it is ultimately what I've been working on."
Bears quarterback Mitchell Trubisky has struggled this season. He has just five touchdown passes and three interceptions in the six games he has played. In four of those games he has not found the end zone at all.
Mack said none that matters on Sunday. All that matters for the Bears is winning the game.
"You gotta understand that a win is gonna be huge up on Sunday," Mack said. "That's ultimately how you got to think about this game. It's gonna be one of those games that you gotta get it by any means." *
Some stats from pro-football-reference.com.
Follow Al Thompson on Twitter @thompsoniii