Perhaps many fans were disappointed when Khalil Mack jumped offsides and gave up an easy 5 yards to the Jets, but I was actually quite excited about that. What I saw was a guy who was trying to anticipate and was timing up the offensive snap count. On the radio broadcast, Lincoln Kennedy said that Mack was timing up the Jets' center's head bob to try to get a great jump. You can see it very clearly on the play here :
Try to recall the last time Mack was timing up the offense and tried to jump the count. It’s hard right? That’s because it really has not happened. In fact, one of the (very few) minor nits to pick on Mack is that he's just a touch slow getting off the ball, as if his reaction time is just a half-tick off. He still demolished guys but that half-step to the outside speed rush could be the difference between another strip sack and getting run by the QB.
For those who remember Chiefs' stud outside LB Derrick Thomas, his anticipation and resulting explosive pass rush was unbelievable. Demarcus Ware and Von Miller are the modern equivalents, but (imho) neither had quite that level of ESP.
Mack is already at that level, but he's doing it with a different array of attacks and it's clear that Mack is determined to take another major step forward. He's going to do it by improving that outside speed attack, using the dip/rip move, and by really starting to "get the feel" of these offenses and their timings.
He's going to become even more of a terror when he's getting off the ball and able to scream off the edge. Just imagine what that's going to do for his speed-to-power and his inside counter moves.
Once Mack won the Defensive MVP award last year, many people started to talk of him as a “finished product”, as if he has hit his ceiling. That is very far from the truth; Mack is really just scratching the surface. Physically and technique-wise, he can still make some improvements, but the big steps ahead of him are going to be mental and here we are starting to see evidence that Mack is putting in the time and effort to make that leap.
That offsides penalty may have been a minor annoying footnote for most, but for me, it was a real exciting indicator of great things to come.