Last season Khalil Mack put up 15.0 sacks and was named All Pro at both linebacker and defensive end. No game stands out more than in Denver when he racked up a third of his season total, taking down Brock Osweiler a franchise record five times, including a strip sack for a safety. That’s a special memory for Mack, while it acts as more of a bad flashback for Osweiler.
Tonight, just eleven months from that fateful day, he will once again line up across from the man who terrorized him more than any defender has in his early career.
“He never stops,” Osweiler said this week of Mack. “He has a very high football motor, he plays extremely hard, he’s a very physical guy but yet he has a ton of speed as well. So, he is a very gifted, special, unique football player and you need to give him the respect that he deserves.”
It will be the challenge of the Texans’ offensive staff to try and keep Mack out of the backfield – something few have accomplished of late.
Mack has 6.0 sacks in his last four games, and 2.0 sacks in each of his last two games to give him 7.0 sacks on the season. The Texans are vulnerable on the right side, which is where Mack did most of his damage against the Broncos both in the Raiders’ last game before the bye and when Osweiler was lined up behind center for them late last season.
Texans head coach, Bill O’Brien also understands that the sack totals don’t tell the whole story. Mack gets pressure. He gets in the heads of his blockers, opposing quarterbacks, and coordinators.
“Look, it’s not always the sack stats that you look at, it’s how much they’re affecting the quarterback,” said O’Brien. “I think, recently, they’ve [Raiders] had probably close to 30 quarterback pressures. Forget about the sacks, when you’re pressuring the quarterback like that, it’s kind of like us, I think we’ve done a pretty good job of pressuring the quarterback and it affects the quarterback. So, that’s what Khalil does.”
Osweiler will be putting his faith in O’Brien and his offensive staff to do a better job of recognizing the threat Mack presents and to protect him.
“Any time you play against a player like Khalil Mack, you need to respect what he brings to the table and you need to have answers for what he brings to the table,” Osweiler said. “We’re very fortunate to have a phenomenal offensive coaching staff here. . . I’m sure they’ll have answers for him. But without a question, we are well aware of what Khalil Mack’s capable of doing – obviously I experienced it firsthand last year – and we will have answers for him.”
If you would like to watch all five of those Mack sacks on Osweiler last year again (and again), click here.