In just three years since the Kansas City Chiefs’ Super Bowl LIV victory, the roster has had significant turnover to its starting group. Quarterback Patrick Mahomes and tight end Travis Kelce are the only offensive players that played in that game and will also play in Super Bowl LVII against the Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday.
The back end of the defense has been completely flipped upside down — but not the front. In fact, three of the Chiefs’ four starting defensive linemen in their base package have played together since that 2019 title run: defensive tackle Derrick Nnadi, defensive end Frank Clark, and defensive tackle Chris Jones.
It’d be impossible not to have a strong bond with players you’ve played that long with and have won — and lost — Super Bowls with. Yet, the latest version of the position group — one that catalyzed the unit to 55 sacks this regular season — feels different to Chris Jones.
During a Super Bowl media session on Thursday, he revealed that feeling.
“I’ve been in the league seven years,” Jones began answering. “This is probably the most complete brotherhood I’ve had. I’m very appreciative for the guys they brought in for us in this room this year.”
General manager Brett Veach added first-round draft selection George Karlaftis and veteran Carlos Dunlap to the room of defensive ends. The veteran presence of Dunlap was apparent right out of the gate, while Karlaftis’ energy was needed in the dog days of the regular season.
The newcomers’ performance gave them an opportunity to experience what the other three already have gotten to: a Super Bowl, and winning it. The close-knit group will obviously do what they can to prepare their inexperienced brothers — but there’s only so much that can be done.
“If they’ve never been through it, they can’t understand what it takes to go through it,” Jones explained to reporters. “They have to go through it themselves. If I told them I know what it feels like to lose a championship — and they never lost a championship — they can’t understand that feeling. What they can do is start a new chapter for themselves; they can kind of make their own type of journey.”
Chris Jones told me he’s under the weather. Congestion, sore throat. But said he’ll be fine. Seemed like a few #chiefs players were battling a little something today.— James Palmer (@JamesPalmerTV) February 8, 2023
This team is apparently so close that they are sharing cold symptoms, which Jones shared with NFL Network’s James Palmer on Wednesday. When asked about it Thursday, he explained what he and the team were dealing with further.
“I’m feeling okay, a little under the weather,” Jones admitted. “It’s a little dryer here... We have to get a humidifier, an air purifier, all types of stuff just to stay out here. It’s serious... I’ll be okay, just need some rest and hydration.”
Jones and the rest of the Chiefs’ defensive front will need all the rest and energy they can get going into a tough matchup. Penetrating the Eagles’ pass protection will take more than basic rush schemes.
That’s where a brotherhood built in the locker room can impact the game on the field. When he doesn’t want to use the blitz, defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo will throw stunts at the pass protection — and it takes great timing and feel for one another to execute them like they’ll need to.