Vic Fangio explains why Khalil Mack dropped into coverage so much against the Patriots

Bears defensive coordinator Vic Fangio said Thursday Khalil Mack’s ankle was not a determining factor in why the outside linebacker dropped into coverage more than he rushed Tom Brady during Sunday’s loss to the New England Patriots.

Mack dropped into pass coverage 18 times while rushing Brady 16 times, according to Pro Football Focus. In the Bears’ first five games of 2018, Mack dropped into coverage 20 times, while totaling 25 pressures and five sacks on 157 pass rushing snaps.

But for what it’s worth, Leonard Floyd dropped into coverage 13 times and rushed Brady 13 times, too. Floyd had 121 pass rushing snaps and 32 coverage snaps prior to the Patriots game, per PFF.

“We had the plan to mix in some three-man rush with maximum drop because (Brady) likes to get the ball out quick and try to inter-mix that in there with everything else we do,” Fangio said. “We rushed three, four, five even six a few times. Just part of the plan to mix it against a good quarterback.”

Fangio pointed out the Bears didn’t allow any big plays when Mack was dropped into coverage, at least not to any of the guys Mack covered. Josh Gordon’s 55-yarder in the fourth quarter came on a play on which Mack rushed Brady, for what it’s worth.

“Not too bad, obviously not good enough,” Fangio summed up when asked how he thought dropping Mack worked. “But we didn’t give up any big plays in it. It could’ve been better.”

Still, Mack had opportunities to rush Brady and didn’t hit home on any of them. But if the blueprint for opposing offenses is to make as many quick throws as possible, the counter, Fangio said, needs to be having “good, tight coverage” from defensive backs.

Also, if a team is getting the ball out quick, it’s incumbent on the Bears to make their tackles and do what they can to get opposing offenses into third-and-long situations. It’s on those plays where Mack, Floyd and the Bears’ pass rush will have its best chance of hitting home.

“We only had one third-and-7 in the whole game, and the rest of them were third-and-1s and 2s primarily, and then there were one or two third-and-3 and then the other third-and-6 we had was their last play, when they were trying to run the ball out,” Fangio said. “We didn’t get them in third down and obvious pass situations.”

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