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How Khalil Mack fits with the Chargers

Well. He’ll fit in well.

Cincinnati Bengals v Chicago Bears Photo by Quinn Harris/Getty Images

If you’re short on time and don’t feel like reading this entire article, the answer to the question with which this article is named is that Khalil Mack will fit “perfectly” on this Chargers team.

But if you want to stick around and read a little more, well let’s get right into it.

For starters, Mack has been a stud at rushing the passer for his entire eight-year NFL career. After four sacks his rookie season in Oakland, Mack went on to record double-digit sacks for the next four consecutive seasons, including a career-high 15 in 2015.

During his time with both the Raiders and Bears, Mack played in both a 4-3 and 3-4 defensive front. He has shown on numerous occasions he can rush from a three-point stance or as a stand-up rusher. During the 2016 season where he was named the NFL’s Defensive Player of the Year, he was also named a First-Team All-Pro at BOTH defensive end and outside linebacker.

That’s absolutely unheard of.

So in terms of Mack’s schematic fit with the Chargers, you don’t have to think very hard about it. He’s going to be a bookend of the pass rush opposite Joey Bosa in what should be the league’s best pass-rushing duo from the second the step on the field together. Of course, this means the team is either not going to re-sign Uchenna Nwosu or they hope to use him as an impactful rotational player up front.

According to Pro Football Focus’ Anthony Treash, since 2016, Mack has the highest WAR (wins above replacement) in the NFL at 2.93. Who happens to be just three spots below him on the same list? His new teammate, Bosa, with 2.45.

If you still needed some more objective reasons as to why Mack is a massive addition to the Chargers, let’s take a look at some Next Gen Stats, shall we?

Since 2016, Mack has played the third most defensive snaps in the NFL. During that span, he’s recorded 245 defensive stops (second most in that span), 50 run stuffs (third), and 57.5 sacks (fourth). His pass-rushing mate Bosa also ranks top-10 in several of those stats, including pressures, sacks, and defensive stops.

In simplest terms, Mack is an instant upgrade over Nwosu in almost every way. He’s bigger, faster, more-productive, and has more experience playing the role that Brandon Staley expects of him out on the perimeter in this 3-4 front. The 31-year old can win off the edge with speed, power, and laundry list of pass rush moves that the aforementioned Nwosu is still working to perfect.

While there will be those who point at Mack’s 2021 season as a reason not to get your hopes up about his future prospects, Mack still put up better pass-rush numbers in seven games than any other Chargers player did, outside of Bosa. His six tackles for loss and six sacks would have ranked third and second on the Bolts this past year, respectively. Heck, he was named a Second-Team All-Pro as recently as 2020. A single “down” year, his only season in which he didn’t play at least 13 games, shouldn’t be enough to convince you that he’s on a steep decline.

Lastly, I’ll leave you all with these notes from Kevin Fishbain, the Bears beat writer for The Athletic.

This past offseason, when Staley was just named the new head coach of the Chargers, Mack was asked about his thoughts on his former position coach earning his first head coaching gig:

“When he locked me in on football, it was like it was all ball. I could kind of tell he had that head coach persona and it didn’t surprise me at all that he went on to get a (DC) position and then now a head-coaching job.”

Mack goes on in the quote (you can read it below) to also mention how well-prepared Staley got him for week one prior to his first season with the Bears. All in all, it sounds like the two had a special relationship during their time in Chicago together and I can imagine Mack is probably pretty stoked to be heading out to the west coach to rejoin Staley and his other former position coach, Jay Rodgers.

So in conclusion, Mack has the elite skillset, physical capabilities, and strong relationships already in place that will be cornerstones for his time with the Chargers. If you wanted to create an environment for the veteran to play out the latter years of his career, I don’t think you could have written it any better than this.

The future is looking even brighter now in Los Angeles.