A dispiriting season had not even concluded when Khalil Mack let his disenchantment be known.
Dismayed by the Bears failing to make the playoffs and his individual performance in 2019, Mack is working to make sure the season ahead is far removed from the disappointment left behind.
"Motivation is not an issue with Khalil; never has been," Bears outside linebackers coach Ted Monachino said Thursday, via the Chicago Sun-Times. "But what I'll tell you is that he has approached this offseason with something to prove — and that's something that I think we all can be encouraged by.
"I think that that's something that's exciting, when a player of his caliber approaches his work the way he has approached it."
Buoyed by an NFC North title to defend and Super Bowl hype, the Bears were seemingly locked and loaded heading into 2019. However, they misfired consistently thanks in large part to a sputtering offense and a fatigued defense.
The 8-8 record was a huge letdown and so too were Mack's final numbers, as his 47 tackles matched a career-low and his 8.5 sacks and 14 quarterback hits were his lowest since his rookie campaign.
Virtual offseason or not, Mack is working hard, according to Monachino.
"He's training like I have never seen anybody train before," Monachino said .
While Mack's numbers were paltry, his play in reality was not. Per Pro Football Focus, he tallied an 86.2 rating for the season. It was the defense as a whole that very much waned in getting to the quarterback, totaling just 32 sacks (tied for 24th) on the season. It was a harsh drop from the 50 in 2018 that tied them for third. Regardless of the reasoning, the Bears want and need more sacks from Mack and the rest of the defense.
"I know that that's a situation we'd all like to get fixed, sooner rather than later," Monachino said. "But what I will tell you is that his lack of effort, that never showed — there was never that. His approach to his weekly plan and to his attention to detail as a rusher never waned.
"I can't really attribute a lower sack number to one thing or another. I just know that going into 2020, that's a high, high priority for all of us, especially for Khalil. Nobody wants to be better and dominant down-in and down-out than Khalil Mack."
Despite what many deemed a down year, Mack is still highly-regarded and his five Pro Bowls and three All-Pro selections help that esteem along.
After turning the Bears into a contender in 2018, it's clear the ultra-talented pass rusher is poised to do so once again.
"I just think that this is a special guy that has something to prove and has approached the last several months with a chip on his shoulder," Monachino said. "And I think that's good for everybody."
Well, not opposing ball carriers and quarterbacks.