Adam Gase has faced Khalil Mack four times — twice as the Denver Broncos' offensive coordinator, once in his lone season with the Bears and once last season, his second as head coach of the Miami Dolphins.
Gase went 3-1 against Mack's Raiders, with the lone loss coming last season. Mack has one sack and one forced fumble in the four meetings.
So, as Gase prepares to face Mack for the fifth time overall and first since the reigning Defensive Player of the Month joined the Bears, his high praise for Chicago's new prize defender certainly carries weight.
One day after Gase conceded, "you're not going to slow him down," the coach's compliments of Mack continued on a teleconference with Bears reporters.
"You try and do everything you can to just get it to where he can’t destroy the game," Gase said Wednesday. "It’s always hard to stop him from affecting it in some capacity."
Mack is the first defender since Robert Mathis in 2005 with a strip-sack in four consecutive games, and he has five sacks total in addition to a pick-six for the 3-1 Bears. Suffice to say, he's destroyed a game or two so far despite arriving in Chicago less than six weeks ago.
Mack did fail to notch a sack in Oakland's 27-24 victory in Miami last November, but Gase said Mack was "pretty banged up" and still had some "really, really good pass rushes where we just happened to barely get the ball off."
Gase's Dolphins actually received some good news Wednesday. LT Laremy Tunsil practiced after his departure from Miami's Week 5 loss in Cincinnati with a concussion "shook up" Miami, which was outscored 27-0 in the final 21 minutes after pitching a 17-0 shutout through two-and-a-half quarters. The Bengals scored 14 points courtesy of their defense, which feasted on Tunsil's replacement, Sam Young, not to mention Mack's primary foe Sunday, former first-round RT Ja'Wuan James.
Now the bad news for Gase: The Bears, unlike the 2017 Raiders, aren't a one-man pass-rushing band. Of Oakland's 31 sacks last season, Mack contributed more than one-third. The Bears have 18 sacks through four games, with Mack supplying five (27.8 percent). If Mack only gets close to Ryan Tannehill on Sunday, it's possible — likely, even — one of his partners in crime will get home. After all, Gase said how hard it is to prevent Mack from making an impact. Then he took things a few steps further.
"This is probably the best I’ve ever seen him," Gase said "and I thought those early years — those first couple years in Oakland — it was impressive to watch him play.
"But right now I think he’s just playing at a different level than anybody I’ve seen."