ALAMEDA -- Khalil Mack hasn’t been lighting up the stat sheet early on. The Raiders edge rusher is a premier talent, easily one of the league’s best defenders despite the fact he doesn’t have a sack through three games.
Expectations are sky high for a first-team All Pro at two spots, honors earned after recording 15 sacks, eight quarterback hits and 58 other pressures in 2015. He also had 73 tackles, including 23 for a loss.
Mack has received significant attention this year, with regular double teams and chip blocks from skill players on the outside. The Raiders also didn’t cover particularly well in the first two games, providing little time to reach the quarterback.
There’s no concern about Mack’s stat sheet inside the building, nor should there be. The third-year pro didn’t have a sack in his first two games last year, yet had 11 over a six game stretch where he dominated the opposition. He didn’t have a sack until Week 11 his rookie year, but was still consider an elite edge rusher with consistently excellent play against the run and impact plays against the pass despite lower sack totals.
Raiders head coach Jack Del Rio was asked about Mack during a SiriusXM NFL Radio interview, and said he had no concerns over Mack’s lack of stats in the first three games.
“He’s a lot like Aaron Donald from the Rams, (who doesn’t have a sack and receives significant attention),” Del Rio told the satellite radio station. “You’re talking about a couple dominant players there. In our case with Khalil, he’s receiving a lot of attention that should free up other people. There were a couple times in this last game where he’s literally being tackled prior to hitting the quarterback. The results of the rushes, we’re winning 10 of 12 times (as a defense) on third down (versus Tennessee), so he’s impacting the game.
“As I keep saying, the numbers are going to come. Good players put up good numbers. His work ethic is great. Everything is going great except him being asked questions about how come he’s not steam rolling people getting sack after sack.”