A week of revisiting Kansas City’s 27-17 win in Week 10 has shown a healthy respect for a young Jaguars defense. Wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster expressed his admiration for the unit after Thursday’s practice. Jacksonville’s come-from-behind Wild Card win against the Los Angeles Chargers only amplified his opinion.
“You’re talking about a defense that’s an aggressive defense,” he explained. “They play hard, they attack the ball, and that’s something that happened [in] the last game. And even this past game — them playing against the Chargers — you could see that. They’re not going to quit. They have a high-powered offense — just as we do. It’s going to be a good game.”
Of all Chiefs, Smith-Schuster has the most reason to describe the Jacksonville defense as aggressive. Safety Andre Cisco delivered a brutal hit to the receiver in the second quarter of the first meeting. Smith-Schuster left the game in concussion protocol and went on the miss Week 11’s game against the Chargers.
Cisco was not flagged on the play — but the league office reportedly fined him the following week. Regardless, Smith-Schuster appears to hold no grudge.
“I just play ball, at the end of the day,” he reiterated. “I think everything’s set up how it’s meant to be. I don’t think about the past. I think Cisco’s a great player — he’s an aggressive guy. He plays hard [and] he has those big hits.
“That just goes to say that I’ve just got to play harder. That his no-respect game that he brings to the table — and just what we have to bring to the table. As far as just going out there and just playing ball, it’s just what I’m used to.”
Cisco also took steps to make amends.
“I got a DM from him — he slid in my DMs,” Smith-Schuster recalled. “He apologized [and] it’s all good. I said, ‘I appreciate it.’ I know him. He’s been in the league for quite some time — I know his game. He plays hard. He’s a good player. There’s nothing wrong with that.”
This season brought new concerns with head injuries — as Miami Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa reportedly suffered multiple concussions. Smith-Schuster acknowledged how a play such as Cisco’s hit could affect teammates’ emotions. Even so, he maintains the focus should be on the upcoming opponent rather than one player.
“When someone goes down like that — you look around the league, it’s been a tough subject,” he admitted. “When players get hit, and they go down, everyone should be emotional. One of my family friends — Tua — he’s going through a situation.
“For me, everyone around me is very emotional, but I guess — going into this game — we’re so pumped and ready. We haven’t played ball for two weeks now. So it’s more so for us to go out there and just showcase for our fans.”
This weekend will mark Smith-Schuster’s second consecutive playoff game in Kansas City — though only his first actually dressing in red and gold. The former Pittsburgh Steeler notably returned from what was believed to be a season-ending shoulder injury to play in a Wild Card game against Kansas City a year ago.
The Chiefs won 42-21. Smith-Schuster looks forward to seeing the other side of playoffs at Arrowhead.
“I’ll say this — it feels good to be on this side of the ball,” he claimed. “It’s amazing. I would say yeah — last year was a tough situation coming in here and playing a great team. Now that I’m here, I’m going into this game and playing against another good team. But like I said, it just feels good to be on this side of the ball.”