Mack Must Lead the Way
Make no mistake about it, this is Khalil Mack‘s defense. He’s quiet, but he’s a leader. He’s the heart and soul of the unit. And as he goes, so goes the defense.
So, it doesn’t seem to be too much of a coincidence that as Mack has started heating up and putting up some numbers, the defense as a whole has improved.
Through the first five games of the season, Mack had a grand total of one sack. A mind boggling number for somebody who racked up 15 last year. But as Mack has started developing into a defensive force, the attention on him has increased, leading to plenty of schemes designed to stop him – including just holding on and hoping to slow him down.
But over the last three weeks, Mack has picked up four sacks and the defense as a whole has improved. Over that span, Oakland’s defensive unit has 406 yards to the Chiefs, 344 yards to the Jaguars, and 270 yards to Tampa Bay – all well below their season average.
With a better run defense – the Kansas City game aside – more pressure on the quarterback, the secondary has been able to make some plays and the defense has begun to come alive.
And it seems to start with Mack.
The Raiders are going to have their opportunities to make some plays. Denver’s offensive line has been a bit creaky at times, with the unit giving up a total of 18 sacks on the year – which makes them among the more sacked teams in the league.
Last season, Mack dropped Brock Osweiler five times in Oakland’s second meeting with Denver. They’ll need him to come as close to replicating that feat against Trevor Siemian and the Broncos as possible.
Because as Mack goes, so goes the defense.