It's early, but Chris Jones and the Chiefs defense are looking scary
The offense has its issues to work out, but Steve Spagnuolo's group looks tough, especially with its closer returning.
So about that Chiefs defense.
With Chris Jones returning from his holdout (I’m done discussing that topic at this point. His agents failed him, he’s an incredibly player, I’m glad he’s back, full stop), Steve Spagnuolo’s group had a big matchup following a strong start (on their part) in Week 1; Trevor Lawrence and an impressive Jaguars offense coming off a very good performance last week. And to make matters significantly tougher, for the second week in a row Kansas City’s offense struggled to get out of its own way with penalties (some ridiculous, others not) and turnovers.
In short, the Chiefs ended up in a place that has been rare during the Patrick Mahomes era; The offense needing the defense to bail them out for almost the entirety of the game. And man, did Jones and the fellas respond.
In a game where they were asked to get stop after stop after stop (and then a few more stops after that), Kansas City’s defense played lights out against a tough opponent. And at the forefront of that was Chris Jones, who seemed to have absolutely zero rust and came in just as dominant as he was all of last season.
Last year I started calling Jones the Chiefs’ closer due to his penchant for making huge plays in close games that either protected a lead late or gave the offense the ball back to try for a comeback. And this week, he was right back to it in the 4th quarter against Jacksonville. On 3rd and 12, with the Chiefs hanging on to an 8-point lead late, it was Jones who completely obliterated the right tackle to bring down Lawrence and force a lateral (I think it should be scored as a sack and forced fumble, but whatever).
Plays like this to help close out a game are nothing new for Jones, but it’s a fantastic reminder that his stats don’t do justice to the impact he has by making plays like this in crucial moments (they also don’t do justice to the way the attention he gets helps others, but we’ll talk about that shortly). However, to have a dominant defensive performance overall requires more than just one player. It requires a bunch of guys showing out (and a little luck, generally, in today’s NFL).
And that’s where Spags’ defense, at least through the first two weeks, feels a little different this year. Because guys even without Charles Omenihu (who is now two games through his six-game suspension), the pass-rushing group of George Karlaftis, Mike Danna, and Felix Anudike-Uzomah (alongside Spags’ usual games) is already starting to look like the sort of complementary pass rush we were hoping to see this season.
Let’s talk about the Chiefs pass rush, Jones’ impact, and how strong play from Karlaftis in particular helped Kansas City hold Lawrence and company to 9 points despite getting little help from the offense.