Speaking negatively about Khalil Mack is a really poor decision for the Oakland Raiders. Unfortunately, Paul Guenther is throwing shade.
When the Oakland Raiders made the decision to name Jon Gruden their head coach it was only natural to expect we’d hear a lot of public comments about players from the coaching staff. Ironically, it’s not Chucky that’s talking about Khalil Mack. Instead, defensive coordinator Paul Guenther is mouthing off about his defensive star to the press.
He told reporters that Mack will have “a lot of catching up to do” after choosing to skip the team’s voluntary practices and workouts. Mack, of course, is staying away from team activities in hopes of bringing the Raiders to the negotiating table. The talented defender is set to make over $13 million in this, the fifth and final year of his rookie deal.
The simple truth is that Mack is the unquestioned leader of this Raiders defense. It would have been nice to have him in camp, but he’s not a player who will need a ton of reps. Admittedly, Oakland is trying to install a new defensive system, but that shouldn’t change a ton for Mack. He’s still going to be expected to wreak havoc up the field from his left defensive end spot.
If Guenther had stopped talking after insisting Mack would need to play catch-up things would have been much better. Instead, he chose to compliment the defenders in camp for “busting their tails every day.” The obvious inference there is that Mack is not putting in that much effort.
Negative comments like that could serve to drive a wedge between Mack and his team. That’s not a smart decision by anyone on the Raiders coaching staff. They need to find a way to secure Mack’s long-term future in Oakland. Giving him an excuse to leave the team in free agency this summer would set the defense back dramatically.
In the end, the Raiders’ defense is going to need Mack to be successful this season. Everyone in the organization should be doing whatever is possible to make him feel appreciated and wanted. Taking shots at him in the press is not going to get him into camp any faster. The organization needs to make sure Paul Guentherstops talking about Mack.