Oakland Raiders head coach Jon Gruden isn’t necessarily living under a rock. His team knows that trading former NFL Defensive Player of the Year Khalil Mack was a bitter pill for fans to swallow.
But through the first quarter of the season, no one could have envisioned just how dominant Mack would be in Chicago. After yet another brilliant performance Sunday against the Buccaneers, Mack has recorded five sacks, four forced fumbles and interception and a touchdown.
Immediately prior to his team’s game against Cleveland on Sunday, Gruden expressed shock over yet another great outing from Mack earlier in the day.
“Damn — Khalil Mack had another strip sack?” Gruden asked, via NFL Media’s Mike Silver. “Are you … kidding me?”
To be fair, what Mack has done thus far is quite astonishing. He’s an early Defensive Player of the Year candidate and a potential under-the-radar MVP candidate. Given that Mack has yet to fully understand Vic Fangio’s scheme in Chicago, this is remarkable.
The Raiders may have received a bounty in return for Mack. But they certainly are missing his presence right now. As a team, Oakland has recorded as many sacks as Mack. It has also forced one less fumble.
Gruden’s own words regarding his team’s lack of a pass rush after trading Mack has drawn instant reviews and criticism online. But no one can blame him for expressing shock over the pass rusher’s early-season domination in the Windy City. No one saw it coming this early.