CHICAGO -- The Bears’ decision to sit Khalil Mack against the New York Jets proved wise.
Without Mack, deactivated because of a right ankle injury, the Bears throttled the Jets and rookie quarterback Sam Darnold, limiting New York to just 207 total yards and 2.4 yards per rushing attempt.
Call it redemption for a defense that scuffled in losses to Miami and New England when Mack played at less than full strength.
“We're a top-10 defense, we're a top defense anyway [with or without Mack],” Bears linebacker Danny Trevathan said. “We've got some guys who can play out there. We already know Mack is an X factor out there, he just adds fuel to the fire. We've got dogs out there. Everybody around the league, they see it, but they don't see it, so it's up to us to show them.”
The question becomes whether to rest Mack again next week at Buffalo.
The Bills, like the Jets, are a very beatable team on paper. There’s even a chance the Bears could face another rookie quarterback next Sunday if Bills first-round pick Josh Allen returns from a right elbow injury. Buffalo also will be playing on a short week after hosting the New England Patriots on Monday night.
Mack will undoubtedly feel a certain degree of pressure to play in Buffalo, since he starred at the University of Buffalo.
But do the Bears really need him in Week 9?
Remember, the Bears play five division games over the final eight weeks of the regular season. They have three straight games versus NFC North teams from Nov. 11-22.
There’s simply no way the Bears (4-3) reach the playoffs without Mack having a huge impact on defense. When healthy, Mack is dominant. He was named NFC Defensive Player of the Month for September with five sacks, four forced fumbles and a pick-six.
Resting Mack for two straight weeks might benefit the Bears in the long run.
“The hope is that he can play against Buffalo,” Bears coach Matt Nagy said. “But again, this is a day-by-day, hour-by-hour situation. It's just one that I really haven't been a part of before just because of where he's at, and so, you know, it could be a similar situation, but I just think right now, that was what was best for him and what was best for us. We had guys that stepped up. I think that's the other thing that you can't get lost in this is when a great player like Khalil or another player like Allen [Robinson] doesn't play, we have guys that step up and that's -- I'm proud of our guys for doing that, and understanding that, knowing that, 'Hey, here we go, it's my time and next man up.'”