Make Mack drop into coverage
While the Minnesota Vikings didn’t pick up a victory against the Chicago Bears, two teams that did could contain an answer to slowing down Mack. In Weeks 6 and 7, the Bears played two teams from the AFC East that did an excellent job of forcing Mack to drop back into coverage. While the Miami Dolphins might not be a team you expect that from, the New England Patriots were able to execute their gameplan to perfection.
In the Patriots’ win over the Bears last season, New England came out with a game plan to spread the Bears out and force Mack into coverage. This included plenty of five receiver sets and forced Mack to drop into coverage for a season-high 18 snaps. While is Mack is solid in coverage (1.07 yards per coverage snap in 2018), the Bears would rather have him rush the passer where he’s posted a 10.0 pass rusher productivity rating according to Pro Football Focus this season.
The issue here is that the Vikings offense hasn’t exactly been willing to open things up this season. With the Vikings’ depth issues at receiver, it’s unlikely they’ll throw a couple tight ends out wide to complete a five-receiver set. With a majority of the Vikings sets also coming out of two tight end formations, this may not be a possibility.
Instead, Stefanski may have to get creative. Much like when Sean McVay gave the Viking fan base a coronary when Anthony Barr was matched up with Robert Woods at this time last year, changing his offense to force Mack into coverage will keep him away from his quarterback.