Why Chiefs’ Chris Jones could get his sacks from a different position – NFL Nation
KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Chris Jones is seventh in the NFL in sacks over the past three seasons with 32, all but one of them coming from his primary position, defensive tackle.
But during recent offseason practices, the Kansas City Chiefs have toyed with the idea of trying to invigorate their slumping pass rush by moving Jones to a new position, defensive end.
“He is an imposing player inside,” defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo said. “We all know that. … Hopefully, we will gain something on the edge. When somebody changes a position, obviously the first part of it is the mental part of it. Chris is working through that. That’s important when you change a position. It’s just not that easy to pick up a whole new spot. There are some different things with a defensive end.
“He’ll play out there a little bit. We’ll move him back inside when we have to.”
Since the start of offseason practice, the Chiefs have not allowed Jones to answer media questions and discuss the potential position change. But a move to the edge wouldn’t be completely new for Jones. Last year, Jones played 616 snaps at tackle, 42 snaps at end. In 2019, he played 513 snaps on the interior, 82 on the end.
All of his 16.5 sacks over those two seasons came from an inside position. Jones’ pass rush win rate last season was about the same inside or out, 20.3% as a tackle and 20.9% as an end. His win rate in 2019 with a bigger edge sample size, was 19.2% as a tackle and 12% as an end.
“Maybe it will come down to who we’re playing and where maybe we can find a weakness and expose that weakness in the five offensive linemen,” Spagnuolo said. “We’ve just got to get him used to playing the two spots right now and figure out the rest of it.”
The Chiefs’ pass rush production dropped last season. They had 32 sacks, down 13 from 2019. Jones had 9 sacks in 2019, 7.5 last year.
Putting Jones on the edge is one way for the Chiefs to possibly awaken their pass rush. But they only felt comfortable in doing so on a consistent basis after their offseason signing of another defensive tackle, Jarran Reed.
“That signing right there was a really good get and I think will pay off for us in a real big way this season,” Chiefs coach Andy Reid said. “It gives us some flexibility with what we can do with Chris, so I like that addition. You’re talking about a Pro Bowl-caliber player and just plugging him in, and not much has been said about it. I’m excited to see him once we kick this thing off.”
But Reed gives them a top-level interior pass-rusher and the freedom to move Jones to the outside. Reed had 19 sacks over the past three seasons with the Seattle Seahawks, including 10.5 in 2018 and 6.5 last year.
“We’re really trying to figure that out, to be quite honest with you, and it’s going to take a little bit of time,” Spagnuolo said when asked what Reed brings to the defensive line. “I just really like the way he handles himself here at practice. He’s serious about football, he knows when to lighten it up. Right now, in the short amount of time I’ve had with him, I really love the personality, the attitude and what he gives us as a football player.”
Reed said last week that when he was with the Seahawks, he admired Jones’ game from afar.
“His game is immaculate,” Reed said. “It’s self-explanatory how he plays. One of the best there is in the league and of course we all watch each other and everything he’s done, I see why. He puts in the work and he works hard every day.
“When you’re that caliber of a player, you should be able to move all along on the defensive line and I’m actually liking that [part], staying at [tackle] and he stays a [defensive end].”