By: Kyle Smith
CHICAGO — With Khalil Mack missing both Wednesday and Thursday’s practices due to a lingering ankle injury that he suffered during last Sunday’s 31-28 road defeat to the Miami Dolphins, the talented pass rusher’s status for this weekend’s tilt against the New England Patriots is anything but guaranteed.
What is guaranteed, however, is Patriots head coach Bill Belichick’s stance on Khalil Mack being compared to one of his former superstar defensive players:
Hall of Fame pass rusher/run-stopper Lawrence Taylor.
In a recent press conference, Bill Belichick quickly downplayed the Mack-Taylor comparisons by stating, “I’m not putting anybody in Lawrence Taylor’s class. Put everybody down below that.”
For those reading this article that are confused to why Belichick quickly defended Taylor, the hoody-wearing meme coach used to be LT’s defensive coordinator (DC).
Whether this is Belichick playing a bit or going by the old “you can’t compare different players from different eras” adage, the Hall of Fame head coach cannot deny that Mack has 12.5 more sacks in his 3+ years of NFL action than Taylor ever did during his first four years with the New York Giants.
What’s even stranger is Belichick’s comments are about an all-time great pass rusher, but LT wasn’t as great as the average NFL fan might think…..well, in terms of single-season and career sacks, anyway.
If you’re wondering, Bruce Smith leads all players with 200 career sacks; LT ranks tied for 13th on the all-time list with 132.5. As for single-season hits on the quarterback when they aren’t able to throw the football away in time, LT is tied for seventh on the list.
Michael Strahan, whose G-Men team was the only NFL team in history to beat an 18-0 gridiron opponent (Belichick’s Patriots) in Super Bowl XLII, the current television on-air talent leads all NFL players with 22.5 sacks from the 2001 regular season. As Belichick might also have been aware of before he talked about the LT-Mack comparisons, Strahan has nine more career sacks than Taylor.
Even more interesting, instead of praising Mack’s exceptional gamesmanship and overall stellar play during his career with the Raiders/Bears, LT agrees with his former DC.
Well played Belichick and Taylor, well played. Then again, their comments might just be enough fuel on the fire for Mack to want to play his best game of the regular season against a Pats team who is presently tied with the ‘Phins for first place in the AFC East.
Assuming he plays, the 27-year-old linebacker is looking to rebound from last Sunday’s performance in Miami, a performance where Pro Football Focus ranked as the worst of his career (47.8).
The Bears host the Patriots at Soldier Field, with kickoff scheduled for 12 p.m. A win by the Bears and a loss by the Vikings would put DA BEARS back in first place by themselves in the NFC North conference.