Khalil Mack didn’t mean to be boastful. He wasn’t trying to set a public goal so outrageously high that his chances of reaching it would seem impossible.
Yet Mack isn’t backing away from the fact he believes he can have a 30-sack season.
This week, Raiders quarterback Derek Carr told reporters his teammate, the All-Pro defensive end/outside linebacker, is shooting for that number of sacks in a season, which would shatter the NFL record of 22½ set by Michael Strahan of the Giants in 2001.
“That’s the number I shoot for, but I didn’t want him to tell everybody else,” Mack told Paul Gutierrez of ESPN.com at training camp Thursday. “But at the same time, D.C., he knows how hard we work, what kind of work we put in, and he knows what I want. Realistically, we just want to get the record at least. At least.”
Meanwhile, Von Miller of the Broncos also is shooting for the 30-sack mark.
“I think it is doable,” Miller said Wednesday.
Miller, in fact, has broken it down, saying it’s important to come out fast, getting 10 in the first month, then keeping up the pressure all season long.
As Conor Orr of NFL.com noted, both Mack and Miller haven’t come close to 30 sacks. Mack’s season best is 15, three fewer than Miller’s best year.
And, Orr notes, the NFL game has changed since Strahan played, with quarterbacks focused on getting rid of the ball more quickly and blocking schemes being more sophisticated to protect passers.
Orr wrote that Mack or Miller would have to be healthy and fortunate to break Strahan’s sack record and come close to 30. The Raiders’ and Broncos’ defensive coordinators would have to find creative ways to get the two players into the backfield, and teammates would have to step up, too.
“That being said,” wrote Orr, “if anyone is going to do it, the safe money is on either Miller or Mack. Miller almost single-handedly destroyed the league’s best offense en route to a Super Bowl MVP award in 2015. Mack will soon be paid like the best defensive player in the league. Could either of them go down in NFL history as unquestionably the greatest?”
Mack and Miller spent time with one another at Miller’s “Pass Rush Summit” at Stanford this summer, where elite pass rushers such as DeMarcus Ware and Vic Beasley Jr. traded tips and tutored younger players.
Mack says he learned a few things he’ll put to use in 2017, but wouldn’t tell reporters at training camp Thursday what they were.
“I’m not going to tell y’all, but it was a lot of stuff that I did learn that is going to help my game for sure,” Mack said, according to Gutierrez. “Just pulling for each other’s mindset and figuring out what it is that we’re good at and sharing with everybody else. It was dope.”
The Raiders are set to open their exhibition season Aug. 12 vs. the Cardinals in Arizona.