As I write this, news is breaking that the Bears have brokered a deal with the Raiders to acquire Khalil Mack. The home opener just got more interesting as Mack will make an immediate impact once the deal is done. Without question, the Bears got better instantly and their defense was already good and could be considered a playoff contender. Packers fans were hopeful that the Pack might add Mack to the mix but it doesn’t look like that is going to happen. But is there a silver lining to the cloud that is the Packers missing on Mack? Here are three reasons I think the trade may benefit the Pack. Well…at least…here are three reasons I think the Bears may not get over the hump with the addition of Mack.
1. The Cost
I have yet to see the payout that Chicago made for Khalil Mack but we all know that they paid a heavy price to get Mitch Trubisky in the building. The team knows that getting their franchise quarterback and a top pass-rusher is key and they are certainly a threat in the already stacked North. But word on the street was:
- The Raiders wanted at least 2 first rounders for Mack and
- Several teams, including the Packers were in the conversation
This means that the cost may have been even higher for Chicago and I will be very interested to find out what they gave up. For the Packers, I thought we were in a prime position to give up two first rounders without losing more than one year’s worth of first round picks but, admittedly, the Packers first rounders are worth less in trade value than the Bears. The Raiders wanted to get a couple first rounders from a losing team and are banking that the Bears still lose plenty of games with Mack. The Bears, presumably won’t have a first rounder for the next couple of years and may have had to add a pick or player to sweeten the deal. Even for the Packers, that would have been a big hit. The difference being, if the Packers got Mack, they would have built a dynasty…the Bears are just hoping to be a winner. The Packers still have their two first rounders and the Bears have one great player and no certainty that Mitch Trubisky will be a world-beater. They added some offensive weapons this off-season too and will look to contend but the cost is high. Whatever the cost is, the Packers would have had to throw in even more to take Mack against a perennially high drafting team. It might just not have been worth it.
2. The Bears can now shake up the North
The Packers will expect to see Mack in the season opener as he is a veteran pass-rusher and can be unleashed without entirely knowing the system. But he will have virtually no experience against Aaron Rodgers. The Packers playing the Bears at home week one may be an advantage for this season anyway. We will be an unfamiliar opponent and if we can be successful at home, we can work the scheme for the second game at Chicago. The Bears will expect to shake up the North now and If they can wreak havoc on teams like the Vikings, they could actually help the Packers out. Of course, we have to be able to beat them and that will be no cakewalk now. But while putting a pass-rusher in before he knows a defensive system is possible because you can just cut him loose, scheming against an outside pass-rusher is simple too. The problem is, with Mack it still doesn’t work. Mack is just too good for even two players to stop him so it is going to be a battle for sure. Mike McCarthy’s scheme for the Bears game may need to change and Jamaal Williams’ role in pass-protection may have just grown gravely important.
3. If the Pack can win the North now…they are a team to be reckoned with
The NFC is the strongest conference in football and the NFC North may eclipse the NFC South for the strongest division in the NFC with the Bears acquisition of Mack. The Bears are now a significant challenge along with the Vikings and the Lions have made significant changes this off-season too, but the Packers should still be the class of the North even though the Vikings have to be considered the team to beat as current champs. If the Packers can find a way to win the North, they will be a team to be reckoned with. We have beat teams with premier pass-rushers before and Khalil Mack is just one player (well…maybe two) but Aaron Rodgers is as good as it gets and the think-tank of McCarthy, Philbin, and Rodgers will take up the challenge knowing that winning the North makes it possible for them to go the distance. The Bears still have not shown that they have much of a passing game though their run game was exceptional last year. Rodgers and company should still be able to out-score the Bears with the short passing game, some great wide receivers and big tight ends that will likely come into play in a major way on September 9.
While I am disappointed that Khalil Mack will not be coming to the Packers, I still think the cost (while perhaps acceptable in the Packers’ situation) may have been too high for the Bears. They will be hamstrung as has been their track record of late. The Packers still need to win games against a team that has a quarterback with little on his resume and a recent history of losing. No excuses, take the North.