LINK When Orlovsky was asked if he’d consider trading Mack to a team willing to give up two first-round picks, he said he would trade him because of the evolution of quick passing offenses.
“I’m such a person on building the interior of lines, and the game that the NFL is nowadays, I think Khalil Mack is a ridiculously good football player,” Orlovsky said Tuesday on Kap and Company on ESPN 1000. “I don’t need to tell anybody that. The ball comes out really quickly nowadays. The last four years I’ve said, give me interior people before edges and that’s on both sides of the ball. Give me a really good center and really good guard more than really good tackle nowadays in the NFL. Teams aren’t dropping back in condenses space and doing seven-step drops and holding the ball for four seconds like they used to and give me guys who can get the interior pressure more than the edge pressure because the ball comes out of the quarterback’s hands so quickly nowadays.”
There is a lot to unpack here if we are honest with ourselves.
Mack is one of the best players in the NFL. But then I step back and try to view the overall "team" and consider how the Bears can best build a "team" that can win a Super Bowl. Team. And "team" includes offense. And what is the timeline for actually having this "team" in place?
1. I consider Mack as a piece, but he is not the team. He is a wonderful piece, but just one piece.
2. The offense is going to take years to get to a Super Bowl win. If ever.
3. The offense has critical needs in multiple areas - a multi-year project IMHO.
4. I have seen the Bears perform in years past where they had a HOF defense piece, but the offense was a piece of crap and we had a "team" that was a joke (the Butkus years come to mind as one of several years like that). Having a HOF player is nice, but having a Super Bowl "team" is better - and while the two are not mutually exclusive (see the '85 team) you do have to have more than one piece to win a Super Bowl. Using that 1985 team as an example, we had the #2 overall OFFENSE in the entire NFL that year... to go with the great talent on defense. But in the Butkus years we had HOF talent on defense and Sayers on offense, but had terrible terrible teams for his entire career here.
5. We don't have the draft picks to fix the "team" anytime soon. We can improve the team, but not fix it in its entirety. And if we do need to replace our QB, then that is going to set the timeline back even more. Will Mack even be anything near his playing level then? I don't know.
6. What is the plan here for this team, and does it make sense to invest in Mack if he does not fit the timeline for our overall plan? If we are on a 3 (or more) year plan then does Mack even make sense within that timeline? Maybe. He'd be in his mid-30s and hopefully, if his health stays intact, he will still be worth the investment Pace made in him. If.
7. I see smart teams like Belichick/NE sustaining a winning franchise by being "draft pick rich" every year. They keep a boatload of draft picks and it makes financial and win sense to have this pipeline pouring in talent each year (it includes compensation picks too... whereas the Bears will have 2 draft picks in the first four rounds, the Patriots had 7 draft picks in the first four rounds this year). Instead of being draft rich, we are draft poor. How do you build a sustainable winning team that way - and win Super Bowls?
Obviously arguments can be made that when you get a chance to add a HOF talent you don't even think about it, you just do it. Maybe that is accurate here. But maybe not. I don't think it's a slam dunk "best" decision in light of building a SB winning "team" - in light of the mess the offense is in right now.
And even with Mack, it seems like once Hicks went down to injury, teams have handily negated Mack as a disruptive force. They put extra blocking assets on him and he is not the same player here once they do that.
We are "draft poor" right now and with the obvious holes on our roster having draft picks looks mighty good. But there's no guarantee that we could draft decently in the 1st round even if we did have two 1st round picks. Ideally you draft your own stars in that 1st round and have the benefit of that first rookie contract while watching young exciting players develop. Pace has not been batting that great in the 1st round of the draft though. No All-Pros in the 1st round (but he has drafted some great talents outside of the 1st round).
Still, if the offense is ever going to be at a Super Bowl championship level, we probably need the draft picks, AND the draft skill to spend those picks on star players. Use FAs to supplement your drafted talent. When you go out and "buy" established talent, that's a pretty rich market price to pay versus drafting rookies and developing them (and like Belichick, get those compensatory picks each year when you let those guys go to other teams).
LINK Are the Raiders getting the last laugh on the Khalil Mack trade? The Bears were crowned instant winners of the Khalil Mack trade when they acquired the future Hall of Fame pass-rusher from the Oakland Raiders for multiple first-round picks (and more) prior to the start of last season. In fact, the Raiders became the butt of all football jokes for their blasphemous approach to Mack and for doing the unthinkable: trading the league's best sack artist.
But is the joke really on the Bears?
Sure, Chicago enjoyed a pretty miraculous ride in 2018, one the came a Cody Parkey kick away from advancing to the divisional round of the NFC playoffs. But it's been a steady decline since then. Midway through the 2019 season, the Bears are 3-5 while the Raiders, after defeating the Chargers in Week 11's Thursday Night Football, stand at 5-4.
If you watched the game Thursday night, you witnessed this year's likely offensive rookie of the year, Josh Jacobs, seal the win for Oakland on an 18-yard touchdown run. Jacobs, who's now run for 811 yards and seven touchdowns, was the player the Raiders picked with the selection the Bears sent to Oakland for Mack.
Jacobs' season is impressive by any measure, especially for a rookie. But compare his stats to the Bears' ground game, and it becomes even more shocking just how much value Oakland got in that trade. Jacobs has more yards, yards per carry, yards after contact and rushing touchdowns than the entire Bears offense.
Oakland has it's building block on offense thanks to the Mack deal.
Meanwhile, the Bears' offense is struggling to find its identity. It doesn't appear like the roster has a franchise quarterback and with no first-round pick in 2020 (it, too, was sent to the Raiders), where will it find one? In fact, Oakland may end up securing that franchise quarterback (if they aren't sold on Derek Carr) with the Bears' first-round pick this April. At this rate, it could end up being a top-five selection. It will be a vicious slap in the face to general manager Ryan Pace if the Mack trade backfires like that.