It all starts in the trenches
The Chiefs’ defensive linemen have become an absolute problem for opposing offenses. The Chiefs’ best defensive player, Chris “Stone Cold” Jones, is finally back at his natural position in the interior, after placing him on the edge didn’t yield his most productive play. After suffering a wrist injury earlier in the season, Jones has returned to peak form.
Since his return to form, the ambassador of Sack Nation has been nothing short of a wrecking ball, racking up 29 pressures since Week 8, the most of any player in that span. Whether it’s crushing the pocket from the middle, overcoming double teams, or batting down balls, Jones appears to be the best defensive tackle in football not named Aaron Donald. The positive note? Jones is entering his prime while Donald’s best days may be behind him.
Likewise, Frank Clark has returned from injury and, over the win streak, has put together some of the best performances of his career. This run started against the Giants in Week 8 in which Clark earned a PFF grade of 91.7, the highest of any game in his career. Chiefs Kingdom knows what he is fully capable of come playoff time, as he currently is tied for the most total pressures in the postseason with 22. If the Chiefs maintain their momentum Clark will be sure to deliver once again.
Though his name didn’t get called very often to start the year, Jarran Reed has come into his own and has been a stout member of the interior alongside Jones. He may not get the glory of his fellow linemen but he is without a doubt making a significant impact by sucking up blocks and allowing Jones to get free. He has also been stout against the run, earning a 90.3 run defense grade from PFF in the Week 13 victory against the Broncos.
In addition, former Charger Melvin Ingram, who was added as a result of a trade with the Steelers has been fantastic on the edge against both the run and the pass. A player who was once a thorn in the Chiefs side has turned into an asset. His speed off the edge has come up big when stopping opposing running backs in the backfield, and also lends itself to getting consistent pressure in passing situations. This guy has a motor that won’t quit.
Together, these four impact players along the defensive line have been sufficient, at times dominant, in limiting big runs while living rent-free in the backfield as they rush opposing quarterbacks. Simply put, Sack Nation is back.