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Chris Jones
Kansas City Chiefs

Chris Jones Will Be Key Cog To Chiefs’ Playoff Run

  • Jack McKessy
  • January 15, 2022
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The Kansas City Chiefs will take on the Pittsburgh Steelers in primetime on Sunday night, beginning their playoff campaign to win a third straight AFC title. The offense will have some work cut out for them with Pittsburgh’s strong passing defense, but the defense that has especially struggled lately will really need someone to step up on Sunday. The X-factor for them there is defensive tackle Chris Jones. Of all defensive tackles in the NFL, only Aaron Donald has a better pass rush win rate than Jones. The Kansas City defender has been a dominant force on the defensive front this season, tallying nine sacks, five passes defended, 17 QB hits, and 34 pressures in just 14 games. The Chiefs began the season experimenting with Jones rushing off the edge as a defensive end or outside linebacker. After a two-sack game in the season opener, Jones’ production as a pass rusher slowed. Then the team brought in Melvin Ingram in a trade with Pittsburgh, and Jones moved back inside. Right away, the defensive tackle began to put up better pressure numbers and add more sacks to his 2021 résumé. Jones’ impact matters more than what it might say in his personal box score on a week-by-week basis. For one thing, the Chiefs were 4-4 before Jones moved back to his native place at defensive tackle. A big reason for some of those losses was a lack of a good pass rush, allowing opposing teams to pass the ball and score points at will. The Chiefs won seven of their last eight games in which Jones played after moving back inside. The only games that Jones didn’t have a QB hit in after he reverted to tackle were against the Steelers in Week 16—one week after coming back from the COVID-19 list and playing in less than half of the Chiefs’ defensive snaps—and in Week 18 against the Denver Broncos. What’s more, the Chiefs had at least one sack as a team in all but three games this season—the three games Jones missed. What has made Jones so successful is his size, physicality, and closing speed. In truth, Jones’ only competition at the top of the NFL rankings in 3-technique rushers is Donald. The Chiefs’ defensive lineman towers over most at his position at 6-foot-6 and 310 pounds. He’s a bully in the trenches, using his size and strength to shove his way through blockers. Jones also has enough speed and agility to jump off the line of scrimmage, sometimes beating blockers either with his quick jump or with spin moves before closing in on the quarterback or running back in the backfield. He’s a superb athlete and a total monster on the defensive front. With a lot of discussion on how the Chiefs’ offense will fare in the playoffs, it can be easy to overlook the issues Kansas City has faced with their defense. Jones played a big role in helping the defense turn around their early-season woes after moving back to his normal position at tackle. And while there’s some discussion to be had about Ingram and his potential revenge game against his former team, it’s Jones who seems to be the key to the Chiefs’ pass rush. That could especially be the case going forward, considering some of his most productive games were against playoff teams—the Dallas Cowboys and Cincinnati Bengals specifically. That bodes well for the immediate future of Kansas City’s defense in their playoff run this postseason.

Written By

Jack McKessy