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Chris Jones, Charles Omenihu lead an ‘interchangeable’ Chiefs pass rush

When opponents drop back to pass, Kansas City’s defensive linemen could be coming from anywhere.

NFL: Los Angeles Chargers at Kansas City Chiefs Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

In the Kansas City Chiefs' first game with defensive lineman Charles Omenihu on the field, the team set a season-high with five sacks of Los Angeles Chargers quarterback Justin Herbert, who entered the game as one of the NFL's least-sacked signal callers.

Omenihu was one of five players who earned a sack, and none of them were star pass rusher Chris Jones. The unit's depth had as strong a performance as it has had all season, which impressed Omenihu in his first full-speed action with his new team.

"It's coming from all angles," Omenihu told reporters in the locker room before Wednesday's practice. "If teams want to make it to where me and Chris can't get off, you got Mike [Danna] and George [Karlaftis] that are just as good. It's four guys coming strong, and it's going to continue developing and be nice."

Omenihu lined up in multiple spots. On his sack, he burst off the edge of the formation. When he batted up an eventual interception, he was an interior rusher. This fits right in with how the rest of the defensive line is used.

"There are interchangeable pieces," Omenihu emphasized. "Guys can rush anywhere, guys don't have to be in one locked in spot, so you move guys around and create matchup troubles."

NFL: Los Angeles Chargers at Kansas City Chiefs Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

Chris Jones helped facilitate Omenihu's sack by bull rushing the guard and forcing Herbert to step into a vulnerable spot. His streak of five consecutive games earning a sack came to an end, but that just speaks to how little he needed to be depended on. It speaks to a strong group around him.

"We're building chemistry along the defensive line," Jones noted. "Having Charles in there, having Mike Danna who can play three-technique or bump to the outside, and George is getting accustomed to getting moved around. Every guy in the room is interchangeable in the pass rush, so it's a plus for our defensive line."

"Charles being able to play inside and outside... he's going to be a guy we use all over the place," Jones envisioned. "He's big, he's tall, he's faster than he looks... I was telling Joe Cullen, 'I never think you can have enough pass rushers in one group.'"

Jones and Omenihu aligned next to each other on the sack. While Omenihu was the edge rusher that time, Jones has expressed his preference to rush over the offensive tackle rather than inside, where he can be more easily double-teamed.

That pairs well with Omenihu's preference, which he revealed on Wednesday.

"I feel a lot more comfortable rushing inside," Omenihu admitted. "I'm able to use my length and quickness; I have a very good sense of protections. I like it. I like it a lot."

NFL: Denver Broncos at Kansas City Chiefs Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

The addition of Omenihu to an ascending unit, one that ranks top 10 — even top 5 — in many statistical categories, begs the question: can the Chiefs have the best defense in the NFL?

When asked, Jones answered with a very logical answer, being the true veteran leader of the unit.

"It's more about being better than we were last week; we don't want to put that weight on anyone's shoulders," Jones explained. "We still have a lot of young guys, a lot of guys accruing, so as a whole, you just want to be better than you were last week.

"At the end of the year, if we continue to do that, we have the potential to be one of the best defenses in this league."

When the pass rush can have its best game of the season without its best player contributing to the sack total, it's a positive indication that the Chiefs have depth, in one of the areas of the game you need it the most.

It will only be more important as the fatigue of a season creeps in, down the stretch — where the bulk of the team's strength in the schedule lies.

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