Matt Nagy: Khalil Mack 'on another level right now'

Talent abounds upon the Chicago Bears defense.

It was there before Khalil Mack was brought over via trade ahead of the 2018 season, but Mack was the catalyst, the game changer, the impact player who keyed the Bears defense's emergence as the force it is now recognized as.

And he might well be playing more ferociously and more phenomenally this autumn.

"He's on another level right now," coach Matt Nagy told the team website via Larry Mayer. "He affects every single play. It doesn't matter if he makes the play or not, he affects it. Every game I've watched this year already so far, he dominates. Whether it's getting a holding call or going after the football, there are turnovers that are occurring. He's allowing other guys to play well, too."

Praise comes easy and emphatically when discussing Mack with the Bears coaching staff.

"Through the course of three ballgames and the amount of plays that he's played, a regular human being, regular football player would be [involved in] 40 to maybe 50 percent on plays whether he had a tackle on it or an assist because he wasn't at the point of attack," defensive coordinator Chuck Pagano said. "He's in the low 80 percentile, which is off the charts."

When describing Mack's contributions and skillset, there's an abundance of ways to exclaim, but in large part, Nagy and Pagano's compliments mirror each other. Whether Mack is showing up statistically, he's impacting the play just about every time he takes the field.

Chicago's supernova of sack has launched the Bears into a stratosphere exclusive to Super Bowl contenders. Though the Bears offense continues to puzzle and sputter, the defense continues to dazzle and stymie. Though a 2-1 start has brought about doubt and concern, there is still ample fervor and belief that the Bears as a whole can be as elite as their coach believes their pass rusher is.

During a dominant performance against the Redskins, Mack posted three tackles, two sacks, two quarterback hits and two forced fumbles. He offers a seasonal line of 10 tackles, two for a loss, three sacks, three forced fumbles and three QB hits for a Bears defense that's allowed only 13.0 points per game. With talent such as Eddie Jackson, Akiem Hicks, Roquan Smith and on and on around him, Mack isn't taking for granted the prime position he finds himself in and he's clearly enjoying his time in Chi-Town.

"We've got a lot of dynamic players and it's always fun stepping on the field with them," Mack, who had 12.5 sacks last year, said in a reporter scrum Friday. "It's a blessing to be in the position I'm in."

While Mack's ferocity and talent is showcased during games, it's the intangibles that Nagy said are displayed at practices.

"He just does his thing and he leads by his actions," Nagy said. "He's not a rah-rah guy, but he has fun. He's focused. He finishes every single rep in practice. It doesn't matter where the ball goes. If it's a pass down the field 30 yards, he turns around and he runs. He does it every play. That's the practice part. I don't see all these guys all the time in here when they're in the building, I just know that from what I do see he's pretty chill."

Having dropped the season opener in an NFC North showdown with the Packers, the Bears rejoin the division mix against the Vikings, who boast a formidable defense, as well. In addition, Minnesota boasts the league's top rusher, Dalvin Cook, who's already rushed for 375 yards.

"It's huge. It's always huge when you goin' up against a divisional opponent," Mack said of the matchup. "It's gonna be a challenge for us. They been rollin', especially offensively, they've been running the ball. It's gonna be a good challenge for us."

Known for his ability to wreck an opponent's passing game, Mack is ready for the physicality brought on by squaring up with a team that favors the running game -- which has been the Vikings thus far.

"When you got a team that like to run the football it affects the whole game," Mack said. "It affects the game plan, it affects the mindset of the game, just going into the game you know it's going to be a physical battle. Pop your Advils and get ready, because it's going down."

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