The story for the Kansas City Chiefs pass rush for the past few years has been “the pass-rush goes as Chris Jones goes”. We know that’s an area in which the Chiefs have struggled as of late, and they went to great lengths this offseason to address it with moves like signing Carlos Dunlap in free agency and taking George Karlaftis in the draft.
Despite that, the Chiefs were still going to need a big year from Chris Jones in order for the pass-rush to take a step forward.
It wasn’t that long ago the fan base was down on Jones for failing to bring down quarterback Joe Burrow against the Cincinnati Bengals in the AFC Championship game on a play that may have sealed the game for Kansas City. Fans were debating whether or not Jones should be traded or questioning if he was the guy mostly because of a stat floating around that Jones has 0 career playoff sacks.
In a game where the Chiefs needed their pass-rush to rise to the occasion, Chris Jones led the charge (no pun intended) against Los Angeles.
Usually, when someone is at the head of something, they get credit for when things are going well and blame when things are going bad, for better or worse. Jones has been the self-proclaimed CEO of “Sack Nation”, the nickname for Kansas City’s pass-rush, and generally speaking, he’s seen as the leader of that defensive line, so as the ability to generate sacks and pressure has declined for the Chiefs the last several years, Jones has gotten a lot of the flak.
Whether it was fair or not, it was clear Jones needed help and the Chiefs certainly made an effort to get Chris Jones to help along the defensive line. In the past, asking Jones to do most of the work while the edges didn’t hold up their end of the bargain was a recipe for failure. Adding Dunlap and Karlaftis now meant Jones could do his thing in the middle and not have to play out of position or be the only true threat that offenses had to worry about.
In a game where the Chiefs needed their pass-rush to rise to the occasion, Chris Jones led the charge (no pun intended) against Los Angeles. Against Justin Herbert who is one of the best young quarterbacks in the league, the Chiefs needed to apply pressure in an early-season AFC West showdown.
Jones did not disappoint as he put together a fantastic game where he put up 2 tackles for loss, 2 QB hits, 2 sacks, and a pass batted down at the line of scrimmage that forded the Chargers to give up possession at a critical point in the game. The rest of the pass-rush also appeared to elevate their play once Jones got things going. George Karlaftis even made a nice play that forced Justin Herbert to throw the ball away right before one of Jones’ sacks that forced the Chargers to punt out of their own endzone.
It was exactly the game the team needed from Jones and the rest of the defensive front. Jones had always been great at getting pressure but fans wanted to see production and more sacks. Jones delivered on that last Thursday and reminded Chiefs fans just how much of a force he can be and he is still second to only Aaron Donald as an interior pass-rusher.
Now, the concern is that Jones only appeared to turn it up once starting center Corey Linsley came out of the game due to injury for the Chargers, however, he still made plays when the team needed them and helped the Chiefs to get critical stops which made up for the lack of an explosive offense that night.
Wanting more from Jones is one thing, but to ever suggest the Chiefs should have moved on from him last offseason was foolish. There was no scenario in which the Chiefs pass-rush was going to improve from last year without Chris Jones. He proved again against Los Angeles how essential he is to the Chiefs’ success.