Three keys to success for Kansas City Chiefs against Jacksonville Jaguars

Defensive end Frank Clark #55 of the Kansas City Chiefs celebrates with defensive end Chris Jones #95 (Photo by Peter Aiken/Getty Images)
Defensive end Frank Clark #55 of the Kansas City Chiefs celebrates with defensive end Chris Jones #95 (Photo by Peter Aiken/Getty Images) /
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KANSAS CITY, MO – DECEMBER 16: Defensive end Chris Jones
KANSAS CITY, MO – DECEMBER 16: Defensive end Chris Jones /

Chiefs Defensive Line vs. Jaguars Offensive Line

Kansas City spent a great deal of the offseason revamping the defensive line to fit new defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo’s system. Trading for defensive end Frank Clark was the biggest acquisition with notable mentions including Alex Okafor, Emmanuel Ogbah, and rookie Khalen Saunders. Between the changes in coaching, scheme, and personnel, this group will not only be a huge factor in rushing the passer again but looks to be much better against the run than previous seasons under Bob Sutton.

Spagnuolo’s scheme revolves around bigger defensive ends that can stop the running game first. While some fans are still fuming about the trading of linebacker Dee Ford and how he will be playing the same position for the San Francisco 49ers this season, Ford would not be able to play the role that Clark is being asked to play in 2019.

Ford was continually a liability against the run game along with most of the defensive front the past couple of seasons. This season the starting lineup looks to be defensive ends Frank Clark and Alex Okafor, with defensive tackles Chris Jones and Derrick Nnadi along the interior. If you’re not excited about the looks of that on paper and the glimpse you got in the third preseason game of what they can do, I don’t have anything for you.

The Jaguars also have plenty of changes along the offensive line as well. Former 2017 second-round draft pick Cam Robinson is likely out at left tackle this Sunday, which means Will Richardson will make his first career start—not that Robinson was all that experienced. Jacksonville looks to start rookie second-round pick Jawaan Taylor at right tackle.

Along the interior of the offensive line will be center Brandon Linder and left guard Andrew Norwell who both missed significant time during the second half of the 2018 season and right guard A.J. Cann, who surprised many Jags fans by earning the starting spot here over Richardson.

Looking at these two lineups, I would be terrified if I was Jaguars quarterback Nick Foles. For a quarterback that needs good protection to deliver balls accurately, and yes that’s not just a cliche but an actual issue for Foles whose accuracy drops precipitously when he cannot set his feet in the pocket, it’s not a good start for the former backup QB turned Super Bowl MVP.

This matchup will likely be the most crucial considering that the Chiefs defense has struggled tremendously against the run game for many years and the Jaguars have failed to catch up with the times as they want to continue to ground and pound their way down the field. That all failed last season with Leonard Fournette‘s significant decline in production between injuries, suspensions, and tempers flared in Jacksonville including vice president of football operations Tom Coughlin publicly scolding Fournette last season.

While the Chiefs defensive line will be able to find a rotation to help with the weather conditions, the Jaguars have nothing behind Fournette who is the only big name on this offense. If the Chiefs defensive line and linebackers continue to look better against the run on Sunday, it could mean disastrous things for the Jacksonville offense.