Over the past few weeks, a lot of words have been written and spoken about why the Kansas City Chiefs have lost three games out of the last four. One of the most exotic theories we’ve seen put forward — at least in regard to the three home losses — is one saying that it’s because the upper deck seating was replaced this year.
We’re not sure the new seats have played a role — but there has been one common thread in the last four games: the loss of defensive tackle Chris Jones.
Sidelined with a groin injury he suffered during the Week 5 loss to the Indianapolis Colts, Jones returned to practice as a limited participant on Wednesday — and a full participant on Thursday. The subject of his return came up when defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo met with the news media on Thursday.
”Listen, Chris has got size and he’s disruptive,” said Spagnuolo. “It’s been games ago — feels like forever ago — that he played, but I do recall in those games where he did play that there were always two or three plays in there... I remember the Jacksonville game — in the red zone, third-and-1, maybe — he came through. That kind of play. You miss that. Hopefully, we can get that back.”
Spagnuolo’s memory of the play appears to be a little flawed. There was no such play against the Jacksonville Jaguars — but there was one against the Oakland Raiders in Week 2. On a third-and-1 at the Chiefs 10-yard line, Jones stuffed Raiders running back Josh Jacobs for no gain, forcing a field goal instead of a first-and-goal opportunity for Oakland.
There’s even some thought that Jones might play some snaps at defensive end upon his return — which Spagnuolo also addressed.
”He’s done that,” he said. “I don’t know which way we’ll go with that. When you lose all that time — I want to say it’s been three weeks of practice right now — it might take a little bit of time just getting caught up with being a tackle again. The system is still new to him. Don’t forget: it wasn’t an offseason for Chris. It was just training camp.”
Prior to his injury, that might have been why Jones had not been as productive as we might have expected — considering he was coming off such a dominant season and is angling for a new contract; through Week 5, he had accumulated only a pair of sacks, 11 tackles (eight solo, two for loss) and 11 quarterback hits.
But if nothing else, upon his return he’ll be able to get back in the defensive line rotation, which will help the line do something it hasn’t been able to do in recent games: stay fresh for four full quarters.
And if he can get closer to his 2018 form — when he had not only 15.5 sacks, but also an interception and a pair of forced fumbles — he might be able to do more.
”What we weren’t able to do last week that we need to be able to do in every game is create turnovers,” said Spagnuolo on Thursday. “So hopefully, we can get a couple of those.”