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Mack, Nagy discuss defensive performance


At this point in the season, Bears coaches and players can begin to look back at 2019 and evaluate this season as a whole.

How does Khalil Mack rate the team's performance on defense this season?

"The only thing you can really count on is getting to the playoffs," said Mack, "and that's my mindset. You can't really say it's successful in that form or fashion. But it is what it is."

The defense enters Week 16 with several positives on the season. The team has allowed 253 points this season, third-fewest in the league and roughly on pace with last season's 264 at the same spot.

Given the differences between the seasons--Chuck Pagano replacing Vic Fangio as defensive coordinator and a rash of injuries--coach Matt Nagy believes that the defense performed well enough.

"Every year is going to be a little bit different," said Nagy. "We all understand that. It's a new scheme, and there's different players. We've had injuries. Last year we got pretty lucky with the injuries. We were opportunistic last year."

The most significant dropoff was in the area of game-changing plays. After leading the league with 36 takeaways last season, the Bears currently rank 21st with 16, which affected the amount of time the defense spent on the field and field position.

"The takeaways didn't happen as much this year," said Nagy, "and that can help flip the field for the offense. But the scoring wasn't where it needs to be on offense to help the defense be on the field less."

The team has also seen a drop in sacks. In 2018, the Bears finished third in the league with 50 sacks. They currently rank 23rd with 31.

While Mack earned a selection to the Pro Bowl this week, the fifth of his career, he told reporters that he wasn't satisfied with his contribution this season.

"It's tough because I'm a tough critic," said Mack, "especially on myself. It definitely wasn't what I wanted to put on film all year. But it is what it is."

Mack is on pace to match his numbers from last season in several statistical categories, including solo tackles and forced fumbles. However, his sack count is down from 12.5 to 7.5, though he plans to pick up a few more on Sunday.

"Get to the quarterback," said Mack when asked about stopping the Chiefs passing attack. "Get to the quarterback as soon as possible, make it easier for the DBs."

Not to be misunderstood, Mack isn't throwing in the towel on this season. He won't watch the playoffs when his team isn't playing in them, but he will go as hard as he can in the last two games. He doesn't need any reason to play hard.

"Man, if you really need motivation, you don't really love it," said Mack. "I love this game, and regardless of what the situation or circumstance is, I'm going to go out and give my all every time."