Bears outside linebacker Khalil Mack is due for a monster game after a three-week stretch in which he's totaled just one sack and is without the impact play he's become known for throughout his career. And if the Bears are to have any chance at upending the Eagles in Philadelphia, Chicago's pass rush (led by Mack) has to get after quarterback Carson Wentz.
"Any time you got a playmaker like Khalil on the other side and the way he can change a game pretty quickly, you're aware, you're always aware," Wentz said Wednesday of Mack's impact. "By no means are you afraid, but you're aware. So, offensively you're going to put yourself in the best position to be cognizant of that and still do what we do best.
"I think we're all going to be aware of where he's at when he's moving around and all those things, Kelce up front does a great job making the calls and doing that stuff, again we're going to be aware but not afraid."
Usually, when a person says they aren't afraid several times in the same breath, they are. And it's not like Wentz should be ashamed about his fear of Mack. Most quarterbacks see him in their nightmares. But the Eagles will have a strong game plan to stop him, which puts stress on players like Leonard Floyd to step up and do his part. Unfortunately, he's done nothing to prove he can.
As for the rest of the Bears' defense, Wentz said there isn't much of a change with defensive coordinator Chuck Pagano calling plays than that which Chicago fielded under Vic Fangio.
"They do quite a bit similarly as they did last year, they definitely mix it up and do some different things, have a couple different pieces," Wentz said. "Extremely fast, extremely fast defense, they play fast, they disguise things, they show you different things, but that's the one thing that keeps popping on tape is how fast they play, how quick they're able to get to the quarterback and all those things.
"You definitely take inventory of that, but at the same time, we just gotta do our thing, we just gotta be able to run the ball, play action, stay on the field, do our thing, and I think we'll be just fine."
The Bears should expect a healthy (and motivated) dose of running back Jordan Howard, whose first season with the Eagles has gone about as well as anyone would've projected. He's averaging 4.4 yards per carry, is trending toward another 1,000-yard season and is slowly becoming the centerpiece of Philadelphia's ground game. The Eagles got all that for a mere sixth-round pick in a trade that general manager Ryan Pace might already be regretting.
Even if Howard has a big game, the outcome will still come down to how well the Bears' defense performs against Wentz. It's up to Mack to turn Wentz's nightmares into a reality.
Carson Wentz says Eagles offense isn't afraid of Khalil Mack originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago