Even when Joey Bosa and Khalil Mack trot out onto the field for the first time in early September, it’ll still feel a bit surreal. I mean, two of the best pass rushers of the past decade will be hunting quarterbacks together on the same defense, both clad in powder blue.
It’s going to be a sight, that’s for certain.
While there was an odd amount of “anti-hype” towards the trade for Mack — some believing he was “washed” or far past his peak — the people with their head screwed on correctly knew just how crazy it was that the former Defensive Player of the Year was joining a defense that already held Bosa and fellow superstar Derwin James.
In just seven games that Mack was limited to in 2021, he still managed to record six sacks and six tackles for loss. Those numbers would have ranked second and third, respectively, among Chargers defenders in 2021. This past season was also the second season of Mack’s career in which he did not play every game. He has one prior season to 2021 where he missed three games and that’s it.
As far as those who still believe firmly in Mack’s current ability to impact NFL games, the folks at Pro Football Focus are still firmly one of them. In a recent article by NFL analyst Sam Monson, he ranked the league’s best pass rushers while also grouping them in tiers. Through the six tiers used, Monson ranked 32 players, starting with the top tier of “Defensive Player of the Year candidates” and ending with the “Need to live up to their potential” tier.
Chargers fans should be ecstatic to know that both Mack and Bosa are firmly entrenched in Monson’s top tier as potential DPOY candidates heading into the 2022 season. Mack comes in ranked third while Bosa is close behind in fifth. The rest of the top seven in tier one includes T.J. Watt (first), Myles Garrett (second), Micah Parsons (fourth), Maxx Crosby (sixth), and Nick Bosa (seventh)
Here’s the short blurb on Mack:
“Khalil Mack continues to be among the league’s best edge defenders and has the highest PFF run-defense grade of any edge rusher over the past two seasons (90.6).”
And the one on Bosa (and his brother):
“The Bosa brothers have become dominant NFL forces just the way they were in college, with never much to separate the two. Both boast elite PFF grades and elite pressure totals over their NFL careers and are candidates for dominant seasons at any given time.”
Now that 90.6 run-defense grade for Mack above should be the one eye-opening thing you take away from this article. The Chargers didn’t just add one of the best pass-rushers over the past decade, they also added one of the best run-stoppers at the edge spot. Mack is going to set the absolute hell out of the edge and it’ll be up to the interior to make sure they’re ready for the cutback.
This is arguably the best first level of a Chargers defense we’ve seen in a very long time. Hype is hype and it’ll be that way until games begin to get played, but man it’s hard not to get your hopes up at this point in the offseason.