It only took 30 minutes in a Chicago Bears uniform for Khalil Mack to make Jon Gruden and the Oakland Raiders look a little foolish. Last Saturday, Oakland traded their star defensive end to the Bears in exchange for draft picks. New Raiders coach Jon Gruden didn’t feel Mack was worth the contract he had been holding out for, and so the 2016 NFL Defensive Player of the Year was shipped to Chicago. On Sunday, just eight days after the trade went through, Mack suited up for the Bears against the Green Bay Packers and he had the kind of first half that some entire defenses can only dream of.
Mack was a disruptive force almost immediately, commanding double-teams and special coverage from the Packers. The Bears repeatedly got to Aaron Rodgers and, as a result, the quarterback sustained a nasty looking knee injury in the second quarter and had to be carted to the locker room. (Rodgers would return to play in the second half.) Backup DeShone Kizer replaced him, and that’s when Mack really started to have some fun.
Kizer managed to string a few passes together and took the Packers offense to the red zone, but that’s as far as they’d get. Mack bull-rushed his way to the quarterback and ripped the ball from his hands like a TSA agent spotting a four-ounce bottle of liquid.
This seems like a good time to roll some Gruden quotes about his former defensive end. “We were at a standoff and something had to happen, and here we are,” Gruden told reporters after the trade. Here we are, indeed.
Flash-forward a few minutes, and the Packers have the ball again in their own half. Having already recorded a sack, a strip, and a fumble recovery, Mack filled out his Bingo card before halftime by intercepting Kizer and taking it to the house.
Let’s hear some more from Gruden, specifically about the contract the Raiders didn’t want to give Mack. “That pretty much set the stage of what it was going to be,” Gruden said last Sunday. “And $90 million guaranteed is an astronomical number. It’s phenomenal, I think, for the players. Great for him, obviously. But that was something we could not do.”
The Raiders play the Los Angeles Rams on Monday. They will not have Khalil Mack.