Things aren’t going well at Halas Hall right now, and that’s putting it lightly. The Chicago Bears are in the midst of a mini-COVID-19 outbreak, one that’s forced coach Matt Nagy out of the facility with a positive test, and on Wednesday, news broke that star pass-rusher Khalil Mack will miss Sunday’s game against the San Francisco 49ers with a lingering foot injury.
According to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport, a trip to injured reserve hasn’t been ruled out.
Mack is off to a great start this season with six sacks through seven games. He was tracking for his most productive year since 2018 when he registered 12.5 sacks in his first season with the Bears. Now, it’s anyone’s guess when he’ll be back on the field.
Mack’s injury, combined with Robert Quinn still being on the Reserve/COVID-19 list, has flipped Chicago’s vaunted pass-rush into one of the team’s weaknesses entering Week 8. Quinn, who missed last Sunday’s loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, has 5.5 sacks, which is already nearly triple the amount he had in 2020. Mack and Quinn are a big reason why the Bears are tied for first in the NFL with 21 sacks, and it’s possible neither are on the field this week.
So where will the Bears get a pass rush from if both stars are out? The most logical option is Trevis Gipson, the second-year player from Tulsa, who’s having a breakout season in the shadows of the starting lineup. He’s the Bears’ highest-graded defender with an 81.1 score and has the same mark for his pass-rushing grade, which also tops any player on Chicago’s defense. Sure, he only has two sacks in 2021, but he’s had just half the number of snaps as Quinn, and even fewer than that compared to Mack.
The bigger question facing the Bears, if Mack does indeed land on injured reserve and misses extended time, is whether Chicago should punt on the 2021 season and become ‘sellers’ at the trade deadline. Moving a guy like Allen Robinson would make sense, as would fielding offers on Eddie Jackson, who despite a contract that might dissuade potential trade partners still profiles as a former All-Pro who can upgrade a contender-ready defense.
It feels like the proverbial ship is sinking in Chicago, with Nagy resembling a violin player continuing his song while the Titanic descends into the abyss. The embarrassing loss to the Buccaneers followed by more positive COVID-19 tests and an injury to the team’s most irreplaceable star combine for a gloomy outlook, at best.