The first preseason game didn't end in a Kansas City Chiefs victory, but football is officially back. The Chiefs lost to the Bears in Chicago, but there were a lot of positives to take away from the exhibition.
The defense played salty in the first half, forcing five punts and holding the Justin Fields-led offense scoreless throughout the first two quarters. The defensive line's efforts were vital in the overall defensive performance, and that was spearheaded by a brief-but-strong outing from former All-Pro defensive tackle Chris Jones, who sacked Fields on the first drive. If the glimpse we received of Jones against the Bears is any indication, he and the rest of the defense could be one of the best front sevens in the league.
The defensive line was one of general manager Brett Veach's top priorities entering the 2022 offseason, and even though there was no big splash, he added some new faces to shore up the trenches. That includes defensive ends Carlos Dunlap and George Karlaftis — along with interior defensive tackles Taylor Stallworth and Danny Shelton (whose transaction wasn't completed until after the game).
Let's go to the film
Chris Jones completely collapses the left side of the offensive line by bull-rushing the left guard. That disrupts the running back's path and forces him to cut it up where Willie Gay makes the tackle.
We see some more from Jones, this time displaying his dominance over the right guard this time. His hands stay active as he slips past the blocker. He wraps the quarterback up around the elbows to prevent a late throw and eventually brings him down for the sack.
This play won't pop off the stat book page, but on third down, Tershawn Wharton and George Karlaftis both get in the throwing lane, but it looks like Wharton gets more of the actual contact on the ball. The impact causes the pass to fall incomplete and gets the defense off the field.
Karlaftis does a great job setting the edge, causing the running back to cut back inside to the arms of Gay and Mike Danna and Wharton, who stop the ball carrier for minimal gain on second down. Karlaftis' efforts were as expected following a summer of hearing about how hard he plays. It is a positive knowing good football fundamentals go hand-in-hand with his motor.
Khalen Saunders makes one of the game's best plays with this tackle-for-loss. He evades the block with a swim move and then turns on the burners as he chases down Trestan Ebner before he reaches the line of scrimmage.
It's the first sack of George Karlaftis' career, even if it doesn't count.
The former Purdue Boilermaker gives a sneak peek of what he could bring to the table as a first-year pro for Kansas City. He gets into the chest of the left tackle before maneuvering off the block. The quarterback scrambles left, but the rookie shows off his change-of-direction ability and ends his pursuit of the signal caller with a sack.
The bottom line
The defense showed out in the first half, and the starters were absolutely flying around, making play after play. Granted, the Bears are not rolling out a world-beating offense, but the Chiefs did their job to start the game out. The defensive line as a group notched three of the five total sacks for the game.
The top end of the depth chart looks nice, but they should build upon that success as they take on the Commanders on Saturday at Arrowhead Stadium.