Kansas City Chiefs defensive tackle Chris Jones was the unquestioned leader of a dominant defensive performance in Sunday’s 19-9 win over the Dallas Cowboys. The Cowboys had no answer for Jones, who ended the game with 3.5 sacks of quarterback Dak Prescott. Even with that impressive total, Jones was not satisfied.
“What are we doing? We got to talk to the guys upstairs,” Jones jokingly pondered of half of a sack being credited to fellow defensive tackle Jarran Reed. “Listen — I love Jarran — but I think I had four. Let’s double-check, let’s watch the film again. If he earned it, I’m all for giving it to him. But I think I had four. Either way, I’ll settle for 3.5, but we can check the tape again.”
While the narrative of this game will be that the Chiefs defensive line looked unstoppable against the heralded Cowboys offensive line, Jones commended the equally impressive performance of the secondary.
“The back end played exceptional today,” he observed. “I think the game ball should go to the back end. They made the quarterback hold the ball, and we were able to affect the quarterback because he couldn’t go to his first read.”
After a much-criticized move to defensive end to start the season, Jones has looked much stronger taking more of his snaps inside following the acquisition of edge rusher Melvin Ingram. Jones deferred to Chiefs defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo to decide where he plays.
“Spags does this thing where he moves me around,” he explained. “I benefit off of it. Offenses just can’t slide to me every series knowing where I’m going to go. It puts me in position to make plays.”
Though labeled historically bad during the team’s disappointing 3-4 start, the defense has now given up just 47 total points during the current four-game winning streak. Jones stressed patience before making quick judgments about teams — and offered context for why his teammates are playing so much better.
“It’s never how you start; it’s how you finish,” he declared. “It’s a marathon — not a sprint — you’re going to go through adversity along the way. We went through a little adversity. We had a lot of guys hurt. We’re finally building the chemistry back on this defense. Getting everyone healthy and being able to play together.
“I think this is the first time within four weeks where we had all out guys healthy and able to mesh and play together. That’s a huge part for us as a defense.”
Jones also touched on the narrative that, while the Chiefs are continuing to win, circumstances have prevented the opponents from playing at full strength. In this case, starting Cowboys wide receiver Amari Cooper was added to the COVID-19 reserve list late in the week. Wide receiver CeeDee Lamb also did not play the second half after entering the concussion protocol.
“Listen, they’re going to talk about us regardless,” Jones acknowledged. “We can beat the Cowboys. They’re going to say the Cowboys was off — they didn’t have their top receiver. So every week, we’ve got something coming. But it’s OK. It’s a little adversity. It’s good for us — it’s a challenge.
“We listen to everything. We hear it. ‘We still suck.’ We can use that as a building point. Continue to build as a defense, as a team. Build chemistry and continue to put up points and win.”
In addition to the sacks, Jones was credited with a forced fumble and a fumble recovery. He also tipped Prescott’s pass on the Cowboys’ final offensive play, leading to cornerback L’Jarius Sneed’s game-sealing interception.
This game made it difficult to remember that Jones has played most of this season with torn ligaments in his wrist.
“I give all the props to the training staff,” Jones explained. “(Chiefs vice president of sports medicine and performance) Rick Burkholder and his group have been doing an exceptional job of making sure I’m ready to play on Sunday. The practice plan they have for me — been protecting my wrist and making sure I don’t get banged up in practice. So I give a lot of props to those guys (for) preparing me mentally and physically and being able to play on Sunday.”
Jones ended his remarks with some advice to his teammates going into their bye week — before a critical stretch of three straight games against AFC West opponents.
“Take advantage of this time off,” he urged. “Watch a little film (but) take a break also. But also stay engaged. Watch who you’re with — make sure you don’t put yourself or the team in a bad situation. And if you’re going through something, make sure you’re taking this time to get healthy. Most importantly.”