KANSAS CITY, Missouri – Chris Jones returned to his old position as defensive tackle for the Kansas City Chiefs in last week’s game against the Green Bay Packers and his teammates, something felt comfortable. For the first time this season, something felt right.
“That’s where home has been [for Jones]”said defensive end Frank Clark.” I feel like it’s an automatic mismatch for him. Those guys just slide one person on him and hope for the best when they have him running against a single guard. It also opens the game for the other players.
“We started the season with Chris at the end. [With] just that, the scheme is different now. What you get from opposing offenses is different. Going back to what we know best and Chris going back to [playing on the interior] and him being dominant there and me doing what I have to do to the limit, I feel that everything works hand in hand “.
The Packers had the lowest scoring total of the season against the Chiefs, who won the game 13-7. Not all of that can be attributed to Jones playing primarily at tackle for the first time all season. Green Bay, after all, had Jordan Love playing for Aaron Rodgers and making his first career start at quarterback.
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But Jones had a season high in tackle plays against the Packers at 40. He also had a season low in plays at the end with two. Those numbers, combined with the addition of veteran wing Melvin Ingram, made the Chiefs feel good about his passing career.
“Having all those guys on the line, it felt strong,” defensive tackle Derrick Nnadi said. “It’s fun when we do the work. It’s kind of frustrating when we lose it.”
The Chiefs had a sack against the Packers, and it came from safety, Tyrann Mathieu. But the Chiefs were happy with the amount of pressure they were able to put on Love.
After acquiring tackle Jarran Reed in the offseason, the Chiefs felt comfortable trading Jones, who for years has been one of their best defensive players from inside position, to finish. The idea was that Reed could replace Jones’ production on the inside, while Jones and Clark would be a dynamic group of fighters.
Jones supported the idea.
“My favorite gap is any gap that I can get to the quarterback,” Jones said during training camp. “But I feel good running over the edge.”
The idea did not work out as planned. Reed hasn’t done much with eight solo tackles and no sacks. Among Jones and Clark’s injuries that kept them out of the lineup for at least two games, the Chiefs’ passing run was one of the least productive in the league. The Chiefs heading into the Green Bay game had 11 sacks, the second-lowest total in the league.
“There are a lot of things that go into rushing the passer – hand placement, eye coordination, skill, a little luck, a little play,” Jones said. “When all of that comes together, when it all works together for you, then you can get to the quarterback. Sometimes it doesn’t work, sometimes it does.”
It wasn’t working for the Chiefs, so they traded for Ingram, who first played against the Packers. Ingram and Clark were the lead runners with Jones moving in.
“We talked to Chris and he just wants to do his best and help where he can,” said coach Andy Reid. “He sure did a good job there … and I appreciate his attitude about it as he goes along.”
Defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo did not commit to Jones playing exclusively at tackle in Sunday night’s game at the Las Vegas Raiders (8:20 pm ET, NBC).
“We’re still going to have some flexibility with Chris,” he said. “I don’t think we are going to lose that … We are not going to restrict it to one place.”
But with Ingram and Clark, there is little room for Jones on the edge, at least in fast pass situations. Spagnuolo also recognized what Jones is capable of from an inside position.
“We know that when he’s there, he can do some dominant things,” Spagnuolo said.