ALAMEDA, Calif. -- While Khalil Mack may not be racking up the stats, especially sacks, like he was last year, the reigning NFL defensive player of the year is still commanding respect.
Along with double- and triple-teams.
In fact, Mack, who has 4.5 of the Oakland Raiders' league-low 13 sacks, is the team's highest-graded player with a Pro Football Focus grade of 91.2. And that 91.2 ranks fourth in the NFL among edge defenders, behind the Denver Broncos' Von Miller (92.6), the Philadelphia Eagles' Brandon Graham (92.1) and the Los Angeles Chargers' Melvin Ingram (91.4).
But if it seems as though Mack has disappeared from the stat sheet of late, well, he has only half of one sack in his last five games. Which begs the question: Who needs to step up on the Raiders defense to give Mack some help?
"Everybody," said Raiders coach Jack Del Rio. "The game of football is a team game. Khalil is a special player. He needs to continue to bring great energy, which he does. If the quarterback is going to throw the ball in less than two seconds, it's going to be tough to get there. So when the quarterback is throwing the ball quick like that, we've got to tackle and have their punt team come out.
"They'll get tired of punting or turning the ball over and they'll sit and hold the ball a little bit and Khalil can get there. If they're throwing the ball in two seconds or less, it's going to be hard to get sacks."
Then there's this: Besides the Raiders being tied with the New York Giants for the fewest sacks in the NFL, Oakland is also the first team since at least 1933 to go the first nine games of a season without an interception.
And Mack is always talking about pass-rush and coverage working together.
Oh, and the Raiders were last in sacks last season, as Mack accounted for 11 of their 25. At least this season, a healthy Mario Edwards Jr. is second in Oakland with 3.5 sacks.
"I was getting frustrated," Mack said after the Dolphins game, in which he was shut out in the sack department for the fourth time in five games. "But at the end of the day, it's a team game -- team ball -- and we came out with the win."
If Mack was frustrated by Jay Cutler, how flummoxed might Tom Brady and the New England Patriots have him Sunday in Mexico City? Especially with Brady's short and quick passing game and the Raiders' secondary more than suspect?
"Winning definitely helps," Mack said. "But like coach said, getting that mojo back and knowing our identity and going out and getting the win is what we needed."