For Pro Bowler Khalil Mack, no success without playoffs

  • By Grant Gordon
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A season ago at this time, Khalil Mack and the resurgent Bears had clinched the NFC North and had a postseason to look forward to.

Now, the only postseason for Mack and a couple Bears teammates is the Pro Bowl as they've been mathematically eliminated from the playoffs equation with two games remaining.

And in Mack's mind, the only measure of success is making the playoffs and questions regarding the annual all-star game apparently aren't worth answering.

Hence, when asked what it means to be in the Pro Bowl (for the fifth time) on Friday, Mack wasn't all that talkative with the media.

"Uh, yeah, next question," he said.

Well, are you gonna play in the game?

"Next question."

Well, why don't you to talk about it?

"Oh man, that's ... next question," as he shrugged and shook his head.

Mack's numbers are fine -- he has 42 tackles, 7.5 sacks, seven tackles for loss, 13 quarterback hits, five forced fumbles, four passes defended. They certainly aren't what we're accustomed to seeing from Mack, but watching him play it's still evident he's impacting the game with his play and presence.

In Mack's mind and eyes, it's very much playoffs or bust when it comes to gauging a season's success.

"The only thing you can really count on is getting to the playoffs and that's my mindset," Mack said. "You can't really say it's successful in that form or fashion. But it is what it is."

So, two games from now, another offseason begins for Mack and Co. with plenty of questions to be answered after a season of lofty expectations found mediocre conclusions.

Will Mack be watching as the NFL's elite compete for the Lombardi Trophy?

"No, absolutely not," he said emphatically.

So Mack isn't looking forward to the Pro Bowl, he's isn't looking forward to watching the playoffs and he isn't looking back at this season through a rose-colored hue.

None of that matters in terms of Mack's readiness for this Sunday and the next, however.

"If you really need motivation, you don't really love it. I love this game," Mack said. "Regardless of what the situation and the circumstances, I'm gonna go out and give my all every time. That's the kind of group of guys we have here, as well. They love the game. We'll do whatever we can to win."