The Dolphins looked to be on their way to a strong come back performance against the Cincinnati Bengals last week, but went on to give up a 17-point second half lead en route to starting the season at 3-2. This week, the team’s ailing offensive line will have to handle Chicago’s revamped defense, and one menacing pass rusher is sure to cause havoc.
Each week of the 2018 season, I’m highlighting one player on the opposing team that Dolphins fans should be watching out for. This week, that player is Chicago Bears outside linebacker Khalil Mack.
Experience: 5th season
Height/Weight: 6’3”, 252 lbs
Mack is one of the best defensive players in the NFL. Period. There’s no question he’s had unbelievable production over the course of his career and during his rise to stardom in Oakland, but since been traded to the Bears, Mack has turned it up to a level we didn’t even know existed.
In three games and four starts in Chi Town, Mack has accumulated 17 tackles, five sacks, four forced fumbles, two passes defended, and even an interception for good measure. He’s been an absolute monster. There’s really no other word to describe that level of chaos-causing wreckage from a pass rusher. Mack is on pace for a ridiculous 20 sacks and 16 forced fumbles. While it’s difficult to believe he’ll reach that level of fumbles caused, I have no doubt he can reach 20+ QB takedowns if he stays healthy, something that he’s managed to do over the course of his young career.
Miami’s o-line, a unit that was supposed to be a strength of the team going into the season (and it was in Week 1) has taken a beating. Starting left guard Josh Sitton and starting center Daniel Kilgore are both out for the season with shoulder and arm injuries respectively, and while fill-ins Ted Larsen and Travis Swanson are serviceable, the team’s running game and pass protection have both clearly taken a hit. Now, it appears the Dolphins may be going into Sunday’s game against the Bears without a starting left tackle as well.
Blind side blocker Laremy Tunsil suffered a head injury in last week’s game against the Bengals and may not be cleared to play by the time Khalil Mack and the Bears come down to Hard Rock this weekend. If Tunsil doesn’t suit up, journeyman backup Sam Young will start in his place, and while Young has plenty of experience, he is no match for Mack. For the sake of Ryan Tannehill’s safety and the morale of Dolphins fans everywhere, here’s to hoping Tunsil is healthy enough to give it a go.