After three games, Khalil Mack has no sacks.
Now, the questions are being asked. What’s wrong with the Oakland Raiders’ edge rusher that most NFL observers consider to be one of the most dominant defensive players in the game? If he’s so great, why aren’t there numbers to back it up?
‘A couple of dominant players getting an awful lot of attention’
“He’s probably a lot like maybe a guy like Aaron Donald for the Rams,” Raiders coach Jack Del Rio told Jim Miller and Pat Kirwan on Movin’ The Chains. Donald, a defensive tackle, also doesn’t have a sack.
“You’re talking about a couple dominant players that, in our case, with Khalil, he’s getting an awful lot of attention,” Del Rio said. “That’s going to free up opportunities for other people.
“There were a couple of times in this past game (the Raiders’ 17-10 victory at Tennessee) where he was literally being tackled prior to hitting the quarterback. And the results of the rushes were winning 10 out of the 12 on third down and things like that. So he’s impacting the game.
‘Good players are going to end up putting up good numbers’
“And what I keep saying is the numbers will come. Good players are going to end up putting up good numbers. His effort is great. Everything is great except having to really answer to questions about how come he’s not just steamrolling people and getting sack after sack.”
Bill Polian to Jaguars: ‘The era of excuses is over’
Bill Polian doesn’t accept the premise that the Jacksonville Jaguars are too young to figure out how to win games.
For that matter, he doesn’t accept any excuses for their 0-3 start.
‘You’ve finished growing up’
“There are no longer excuses; I’m talking about (from) the players,” Polian said while co-hosting Late Hits with Alex Marvez. “You’ve finished growing up. Yeah, there’s some growing to do on the defense and there’ll be a little while before they’re as cohesive as you want them to be. But on the offense? On special teams? It’s time to grow up. It’s time to become pros. It’s time to make the plays to win the game.”
Polian pointed to the Jaguars’ 19-17 loss to the Baltimore Ravens Sunday as a perfect example of his assessment.
‘Enough is enough. Go win the football game’
“I’ll point to two instances last week,” the former NFL general manager said. “Four minute. You have to run the ball, you have to get two first downs, you have to make the opposition use their times out. And you do that with your running backs and with your offensive line. That’s a mindset: go run the ball, get two first downs, bleed the clock, end the game.
“Enough is enough. Go win the football game. If I were talking to the team, I would say to them, ‘Men, the era of excuses is over. It’s time to win games. It’s time to finish in four minute. It’s time to kick field goals to win games, to ice the game. And don’t put the blame on the quarterback all the time. Don’t put the onus on the quarterback all the time.’ He’s got to be better with the ball, and that means they’ve got to protect him better.”
Nelson: It was time for Raiders’ D to put offense on its back
For two weeks, the Oakland Raiders hardly showed the defensive muscle that was expected to be a large part of their identity this season.
They didn’t merely have to raise their performance level on that side of the ball. They had to take a game over.
And that was exactly what happened in Sunday’s 17-10 victory against the Titans at Tennessee.
‘Just all about us knuckling down’
“I mean, it was just all about us knuckling down and playing our defense,” Raiders safety Reggie Nelson told Alex Marvez and Bill Polian on Late Hits. “The first couple of weeks, that wasn’t us at all. We knew that and everybody in the building knew that. We were way better than we performed the first two weeks.
“And we definitely wanted to come out and make a statement and put our team on our back, put the offense on our back because they’ve been carrying us the first two weeks.”
‘We just came out and played team ball’
“We just came out and played team ball, and that’s what it’s about,” Nelson said. “That’s coming together as a team and putting together a good game plan.”