When the “Mack Daddy” of the Bears speaks, everybody lines up to hear what’s on his mind.
I’m speaking of course of Khalil Mack, who among what suddenly is a team full of stars — the Bears featured four first-team All Pros and eight players chosen for the Pro Bowl last season — is clearly the biggest star of all and one of the top three or four defensive players in all of professional football.
Unfortunately though he can be a man of few words and isn’t overly fond of cameras or microphones.
The Bears outside linebacker and former NFL Defensive Player of the Year explained: “I don’t really do much talking. I’ll let my play do that for me.”
That of course is a bit of an understatement.
After becoming a Bear literally eight days prior to the opening game last season, Mack offered up literally one of the better individual performances ever in that game against the Packers.
Mack held court briefly with the media following Wednesday’s OTA at Halas Hall for the first time since the team’s gut-wrenching loss to the Philadelphia Eagles in the wild-card round of the 2018-19 playoffs, and he acknowledged it probably wasn’t the ideal way to begin his career as a Bear.
“Two weeks, one and a half weeks before the first game of the year is not really prepared, in my opinion. But I tried to do my best last year.”
Mack is a lot more comfortable in Chicago now.
“Just schematically, just getting everything in my grasp as far as understanding the defense, this is ideal. This is what you want.
“You want a full offseason understanding the defense. But it’s a whole new year. Hopefully it’s an even better year.”
Of course one of the biggest questions surrounding Mack’s and the Bears’ ability to have an even better year in 2019 is how they will respond to the loss of the coach Mack once called an “Evil Genius,” Vic Fangio, and how they’ll fare under new defensive coordinator Chuck Pagano.
Mack expects more of the same with Pagano possessing many of the same traits as Fangio.
“Oh, man, that’s it, as well. You can tell he’s seasoned in the game. He knows everything.
“There are different intangibles that he has brought that I had never even thought about when it comes to football.
“I mean, he’s very personable, man, very real. He’s going to tell it to you how it is.
“Not only that, you look at his resume, he’s worked with some of the greatest of all-time. So, just learning from him and understanding football through his eyes has been very beneficial for me.”
What Mack does not want to hear is any talk about his club taking a step back.
“Man, ain’t no thoughts on that. The thought is to get better. And that’s what it is. Defensively, a step in the right direction is to get better. So, whether we were No. 1 already, we want to stay No. 1.”
Mack also talked about the benefits of staying here in Chicago during the offseason and what it’s like for him being a Chicagoan now.
“Everything. You talk about the camaraderie of the team and just understanding the defense —getting a deep understanding of the defense early on in the year.
“It’s something that’s definitely going to be beneficial.
“I put some roots down, yeah.
“I finally got the chance to look around, figure out what Chicago is all about.
“I’m still getting acclimated, but all in all, yeah, I’m chillin.
“You find out different things about what’s going on in the city and how things work around the city.
“I found my regular breakfast spot, all those different type of things. Yeah, so I’m chillin.”
For a guy who doesn’t like to talk all that much, Mack now seems awfully comfortable in his new “Sweet Home Chicago,” but he also did still want to draw at least a few lines.
Asked what that favorite breakfast spot is he told us, “I ain’t gonna tell you, ain’t gonna tell you.
“Last time I said something, somebody met me at Home Goods.”
We should understand his not wanting to talk about that.