The Chiefs defense played its best game of the season with a 19-9 win over the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday. Chris Jones was a game wrecker, playing the best game of his career while sending a message to the rest of the NFL.
Headed into the month of November the Kansas City Chiefs were below .500 and seemed to be a shell of the team we had seen play the last three seasons. Obviously the main issue of the struggles revolved around the offense, a struggling Patrick Mahomes, and a league-leading amount of turnovers. In the same stretch, the defense struggled, but somewhere around mid-October, the unit started to turn its performance around.
By the time November rolled around it had become a unit that was putting things together, and they made themselves known on a national stage by blanketing the number one offense in the NFL and holding them out of the endzone, allowing just nine points to the Dallas Cowboys. The big reason for this impressive turnaround is the emergence of a defensive line that was dormant to start the season. The pass rush has come alive, and the main reason for this is that Chris Jones is back playing on the interior defensive line.
Jones was awarded the AFC Defensive player of the week for his tremendous effort, coming up with three and a half sacks, a forced fumble, a fumble recovery, and one tipped pass that lead to a game-sealing interception from L’Jarius Sneed.
Dallas was missing two starting offensive linemen on the left side of the line of scrimmage, but Jones was able to beat starting right tackle La’el Collins, as well as perennial All-Pro starting right guard Zack Martin. His hand fighting was lethal, winning with power to speed, speed to power, and a few nice swim moves. He has the power to be a lethal bull rush and had been using it against Martin for a majority of the game, but then he picked a great play on the third down to use his swim and get Martin off balance.
Jones moving back to the inside was allowed due to the Chiefs trading for defensive end Melvin Ingram, which allowed him to mostly return to the inside full time. Opposite of Ingram, Frank Clark has played energized since returning from injury. The pass rush has looked explosive, the effort relentless, and it seems the Chiefs have also found a way to get the football out.
As the right guard looked to anchor in and bull rush Jones uses the swat and swim to knock the hands away, and then pushes the pocket into Prescott who was about to step up and throw the football. These big plays came on third and long situations, obvious passing downs, and allowed the Chiefs to let Jones dominate the line of scrimmage.
On a few of the plays where Jones created pressure KC show walkups on the line of scrimmage. The Chiefs had used walkup blitzes at a high rate to combat the lack of pressure they were creating with four men early on in the season. Now with the pass rush looking better, they use this as a decoy, making the QB think that he will have pressure on him quickly, but then dropping the walkups into coverage. This caused hesitation with reads, which allowed the Chiefs DL more time to get into the backfield.
The defense as a whole put together an excellent month of football, stepping up and providing energy for a struggling offense, and returning the confidence of a championship-caliber football team. The defensive line ignited the spark, which in turn allowed the linebackers to make quicker decisions, and allowed the secondary to get back into playing physical man-to-man coverage downfield.
With Jones punctuating the defense’s incredible turnaround, it has added another element to this Chiefs team. If (and when) the offense finally and fully clicks this team is going to be dangerous. Last week the offense had their best performance blowing out the Raiders, and as I noted in my review of the game they put the league on notice. This week the defense put the league on notice following several strong performances. As the weather is starting to turn cold the Chiefs defense find themselves red hot, and a dominant pass rusher like Chris Jones will strike fear into opposing teams as the push for the postseason and the Super Bowl draws closer.