In the Kansas City Chiefs’ 21-14 victory over the Miami Dolphins in Frankfurt, Germany, Kansas City defensive lineman Chris Jones had one sack — but what probably drew more notice was the unsportsmanlike conduct penalty called on him after the defense had forced a fourth down during the third quarter. That ultimately led to a Dolphins touchdown — along with plenty of criticism for Jones.
Defensive line coach Joe Cullen was later seen giving Jones “tough love” on the sidelines. Speaking on Friday, Cullen acknowledged that on the field, heightened emotions can lead to unwanted penalties.
“Chris is obviously a very smart, intelligent player,” the coach told reporters, “and sometimes your emotions — [you have to] just try to keep them in check. But I’m grateful that it didn’t hurt us — and it could have. [It’s] just a learning lesson.”
Defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo agreed.
“I think his emotions just got the better of him,” said Spagnuolo. “Hopefully, going forward, we’ll be better at that.”
Cullen reminded his listeners that Jones’ emotional intensity is also part of what makes him one of the team’s leaders, noting that the veteran has taken young defensive ends George Karlaftis and Mike Danna “under his wing.”
“Chris has been a great leader this year,” said the coach. “He loves that room. Chris is the piston that drives the engine.”
His leadership seems to be working well, because all three of those players are on pace to record double-digit sack numbers this season. But Cullen was careful to point out that his players aren’t focused on individual statistics.
“It’s the unit that gets the sack,” he insisted. “It’s the Kansas City Chiefs — and when that happens, good things happen as a defense.”