KC Chiefs need Chris Jones if they want to win in 2023

Cincinnati Bengals v Kansas City Chiefs
Cincinnati Bengals v Kansas City Chiefs / David Eulitt/GettyImages

The discourse surrounding Kansas City Chiefs defensive tackle Chris Jones' contract extension this offseason has taken many twists and turns over the last few months.

Not too long ago, Jones was tweeting about how much he loved Kansas City after the team's second Super Bowl victory in five years. Fans were ready to build him a statue and put him in the Ring of Honor.

Fast forward a few months later, and the tone has shifted entirely. Jones went from saying he would be a Chief for life and would never play for another franchise to saying that he wouldn't show up by Week 8 of the regular season.

This is even a massive change in tune from just a few weeks ago when Jones seemed candid about an extension getting done, but reassured Chiefs fans by saying he still had a year left on his deal. he also said, "Let's enjoy this year".

The KC Chiefs aren't winning anything in 2023 without Chris Jones— regardless of fans' emotions.

With the recent drama and development surrounding the situation, many fans are fed up with Jones' refusal to take part in team activities. "We don't need Chris Jones" or "He's becoming a team cancer" are the typical phrases that are getting thrown around, phrases that usually follow when he becomes disgruntled.

While the holdout is frustrating, fans have to be able to put their emotions aside and look at what the loss of Jones could mean for this team and this season. You can be upset or angry, but it's not worth it to pretend that the Chiefs don't need Jones in the heart of the defense.

Emotions aside, the Kansas City Chiefs are not winning anything in 2023 without Chris Jones. He is far too important to what the Chiefs defense wants to do to act like his loss wouldn't make a difference. Everyone should be hoping that Jones reports by the regular season and that we don't have to think about the possibility of not having him for this season or a large portion of 2023.

We've already gotten glimpses of what this defense as a whole looks like without Jones in the lineup in the preseason and the first team defense has struggled mightily to disrupt the passer. The Chiefs have some young and talented pieces to be excited about on the defensive line, but they don't have enough if you take Jones out of it.

A large part of what the Chiefs pass rush is predicated on is Jones eating double teams to make things easier for players like George Karlaftis and Felix Anudike-Uzomah. If Jones isn't there to draw attention, then the pass rush gets significantly worse. There isn't any other defensive tackle on the Chiefs roster that is drawing anything near the attention Jones does. In fact, the depth chart behind Chris Jones is pretty rough. Rookie Keondre Coburn, Tershawn Wharton coming off a torn ACL, Danny Shelton, and Derrick Nnadi. That's pretty much what we're looking at.

The defensive line as a whole needs Jones to be there because they go from one of the better units in the league all the way to one of the worst if Jones isn't on it and probably becomes a bottom ten defensive unit. Factor in that Charles Omenihu is slated to miss the first six games of the year due to suspension and the Chiefs could be in a lot of trouble if they can't make something work with Jones.

This front four without a defensive player of the year candidate simply isn't going to generate enough pressure for this defense to perform the way people want it to. You have to be able to get pressure on the quarterback to win and win and January and Jones led the way for the Chiefs last year, totaling a quarter of the team's pressures last year by himself. The other two guys that were behind him are no longer here either. Who is stepping up in their absences? A sophomore and a rookie edge rusher?

Fans can't expect things to be the same if they move on from Jones. People will argue that the Chiefs' offense did it with Tyreek Hill when everyone thought moving on from him would spell death for the dynasty. However, Jones' situation is a little different. Strictly talking 2023, the Chiefs can't afford to lose Jones because there was no prior preparation to playing without him.

If this was earlier in the offseason and the team decided to move on from Jones, then the idea would make more sense. The Chiefs didn't do that. There's no signing anyone or trading Jones for anybody that can help them this year at this point in the offseason.

Secondly, Jones is a player of greater importance than even Hill. There are dozens of quality receivers, some in which the Chiefs found, that can allow you to move on from Hill. There isn't many players you can realistically acquire that can supplement the loss of Jones. You often hear Jones referred to as "the Mahomes of the defense". That's for good reason. Jones is the leader of defense and far and away the best player on it.

All you have to do is turn on the tape from last season's AFC Championship game to see why this team isn't going anywhere without Jones. They don't win the AFC Championship or the Super Bowl without his performance. To think you can simply move on without him being a part of the team in 2023 and still realistically compete for a title is ridiculous. There are not many players that if they were to go down the Chiefs would be taken out of championship contention, but Jones is on that short list.

The Chiefs' defense was second in the league in sacks next year, mostly thanks to the team-high 15.5 sacks from Jones. The defense's strength was the pass rush, which took a lot of time to build it up to where it's at now. The Chiefs have made massive strides in recent years to acquire help for Jones on the defensive line that struggled when he was the only threat on it. Now, we're supposed to pretend that this team wouldn't be taking a massive step backwards if he isn't present?

This is not to say the Chiefs won't be "contenders" to a degree if Jones doesn't ever report. They'll still make the playoffs and compete with the best as long as Mahomes is upright. However, Mahomes is not God, and as much as it seems like he may be, he can't overcome everything. The whole "scoring 40 points a game" thing isn't really a sustainable model, especially not with the way other teams have improved since the last time the Chiefs tried that. Asking him to overcome the absence of the heart and soul of the defense is unfair.

It's completely acceptable to be frustrated with Jones and his apparent intentions to not show up. It's okay to feel like he is letting the team down in a way. Nevertheless, you have to be able to think logically and take your emotions out of it when discussing Chris Jones' absense. The Chiefs neeed Jones if they have championship aspirations in 2023. Don't allow yourself to think that the Chiefs "don't need Chris Jones". Every Chiefs fans should be hoping that Jones is ready to play for the Chiefs as soon as possible and that this situation gets resolved.