The Defensive culture change at 1 Arrowhead Drive would not have been possible without the emotion and talent of Chris Jones. The cornerstone of the defensive line had an impressive game Sunday against the Chargers starting from the very first snap of the game.
Jones comes FLYING off the line to get into Rivers’ face and force a quick delivery. Rivers was able to get the ball off quick a few times but it would not be sustainable through the game as the pressure intensified and KC’s energy grew.
The Chargers tried to slow some of the KC pass rush by establishing their run game early. This is outstanding team football and a good call by Spags to have Ragland blitz and take away any chance of a cut back for Gordon. It all started with the early penetration by Jones who used his quickness to get past the OL and then his strength to “sit down” on the block and force Gordon back to Rags. Gordon would finish with only 46 yards rushing as the Chiefs had his number.
Jones wasn’t the only one to make a big impact on the DL, watch here as Frank Clark quickly recognizes that Gordon is leaking out of the back field to provide a check down for Rivers and gets his hands up to bat the pass down. This had the potential to be a big play if Gordon catches the ball in space, since on second and long the Chiefs were giving some cushion.
Here is a good example of why Frank Clark is getting healthy at the right time. This “head dip” of his is a little unorthodox but early in the season Clark seemed to struggle to get to the edge on his rushes. This low dip gives the OT a very bad aiming point for his punch against the much quicker Clark and with good interior pressure from Jones and Nadi, he is able to bring down Rivers. Clark is playing fast, knows his assignment, and is looking like the violent player he was last year.
The athleticism and versatility of Jones can poke and prod an offensive line into madness through the course of a game. With injuries to Ogbah and Okafor, Jones has been forced to play a little more on the edge. This time Jones gets the better of the LT, who should have been called for illegal hands to the face. The tackle is waiting for the power but Jones stops his path after the initial punch and shoots the B gap to force a quick throw from Rivers. The Chargers did get a first down on the play but having Jones be able to get pressure from the DE spot is a good sign for the Chiefs.
This play with Jones at DE combined with a mugged up look from Niemen and Sorensen causes Rivers to audible the protction toward Jones. The future Hall of Famer Suggs starts his rush to the outside but shoots back in the B gap at the last second and sacks Rivers. Spags is a master of disguise and with teams starting to worry about Jones rushing off the edge it will open up rush chances for everyone else. If Suggs is able to show a spark like this at least once a game in the playoffs the Chiefs D will be just fine.
This play turned out to be a big first down for the Chargers but it highlights just how much attention Jones can draw at any given time in the game. On this play alone he has three Chargers attempt to block him and still manages to make Rivers make a quick throw. Great catch by Henry but these are the kind of 50/50 balls the Chiefs need to win in the playoffs.
Despite the impact he had on the game Jones was only awarded two tackles in the box score but this play shows why his level of relentless play goes beyond the stat book. This play is also a good example of how team football can go a long way. Suggs absolutely blows up the play, throwing Ekeler off his lane and causing him to hesitate. Jones ,who comes from the backside, turns on the JETS to get to Ekeler. He isn’t quite able to finish the tackle and his momentum carries him past, but Hitchens is right there for the big TFL. Hitch finished the day with 10 total tackles but without the big men up front he wouldn’t have been able to have as many. This is another example of the influence that Steve Spags has had on the defense this year.
With the Chiefs having only a narrow lead on the Chargers at this point in the game this 4th down from the 5 was enormous. Jones is lined up in a 3 technique to start the play but on the snap of the ball he shoots his hands contacting and knocking the LG off the ball, and fills into the A gap where Gordon is running. Jones makes first contact but Mike Pennel beats his man and gets a hand on Gordon as Hitchens joins the party. They drive Gordon back and get off the field on a crucial 4th down. This play is important because last year the Chiefs were maybe a few third or fourth down run stops away from going to the Super Bowl. The Chargers had a good game plan coming in and were able to execute, but the relentless nature of this defense allowed them to step up and make more big plays than the Chargers could.
And with the crowd going wild as Miami won, a bye and a divisional round home game headed to Arrowhead on the horizon, all of Jones’ heart and determination pays off as he records his 9th sack of the season. Jones uses his hand speed to get off a quick swim move and with the Chargers running a deep pass concept he finally gets home for the sack. The Chiefs get a first round bye and that’s because Stone Cold said so!