Khalil Mack was not pleased with the Bears defense's performance in Sunday's season opener against the Lions.
The All-Pro linebacker recorded four combined tackles in the comeback win, but finished the game without a sack or a tackle for loss.
As a whole, the defense allowed 23 points and 426 yards, a result that doesn't sit well with Mack.
"Everything has to be better," said Mack. "We know what we're capable of. It's gonna be another challenge this week going out against another great back [Saquon Barkley]. It's gonna be fun though, man. We look forward to the challenge."
Mack has expressed a preference for leading by example rather than giving fiery speeches. However, with the Bears down 23-6 last week, cameras caught the defense gathered around Mack as he sought to motivate his teammates to turn the tide.
The situation called for Mack to adjust his approach.
"It's just an understanding of what it is that we have in our huddle," said Mack, "knowing the type of guys and knowing what we want. [Our play last week] wasn't it, and yeah, it's just communicating that. It was simple as that, and I think you're trying to see a little bit of a difference. But, it was needed."
Mack is listed as questionable for Sunday's game but seemed confident that he will play. The coaching staff will rely on Mack to generate pressure on Giants quarterback Daniel Jones.
"I know 52, Khalil Mack, is the best in the league at rushing around the corner and getting after these quarterbacks," said coach Matt Nagy. "So all of a sudden, next week, he could go out and have three or four sacks just like that."
Mack has spent most of his career as a constant threat to record multiple sacks in a week. However, the 13 games since his 1.5 sack performance against the Minnesota Vikings in 2019 is the longest stretch Mack has gone without doing so.
Mack said that he's less focused on individual achievements in his seventh season in the NFL. At 29 years old, he defines himself by the team's success.
"I want to do a lot individually," said Mack, "but ultimately, when you think about the individual effort, that comes with winning. That's the only thing I really care about, man, is winning, at this stage in my career, and getting to the ultimate goal at the end of the season. So I can't really place too much focus on myself. "
While Mack is younger than several other starters on the defense, he's found himself more interested in mentoring younger players.
"That's another part that I'm learning, as I get old, to bring guys along," said Mack. "That's the biggest thing for me this year: Just leading by example and bringing guys along and winning. That's pretty much it."
Mack cites former teammates Charles Woodson and Justin Tuck as teachers who helped him prepare for this stage of his career. Both Woodson and Tuck finished their careers with the Oakland Raiders during the early years of Mack's career after winning Super Bowls with other franchises.
"Those guys, they let me know early on that time goes by, man," said Mack, "and you can't waste any time. It goes by fast. It goes by quicker than you think, and yeah, just knowing that you can't waste any time You can't waste any snaps. Every snap counts, and ultimately, winning is everything in this league. That's the main focus."