The Kansas City Chiefs had their final training camp practice at Missouri Western State University on Thursday, August 18 before heading back to Arrowhead Stadium for the remainder of the season.
After the final practice of the 2022 season in St. Joseph, Missouri, quarterback Patrick Mahomes was asked which Chiefs played stood out the most on either side of the football during training camp. Mahomes went with a defensive player that shouldn’t surprise anyone.
“Chris Jones. I mean, he was dominant,” Mahomes said during his press conference. “He’s the first one that I think of, and I think it’ll be the same with Chris this year, from what I saw it was the run and the pass. I mean, he was down there dominating stuff, making tackles on run game just as much as he was getting to the quarterback and getting around me, affecting how I threw the ball.”
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Mahomes also noted some other standouts from camp.
“I thought Noah Gray had a great camp, making stuff happen. I thought Jody (Fortson), up until the injury, but he was having a great camp and I thought (he) kind of bounced back as he got back involved, so I think a lot of guys had great camps out here. You expect guys like Chris, Travis (Kelce), all (of) them to have great camps, but seeing the other guys have great camps is always a good thing.”
Jones Projected to Be KC’s Non-QB MVP for 2022
With several elite playmakers on the team, it’s not easy to project who will be the Chiefs’ most valuable player outside of the quarterback position for the 2022 season. But one analyst took a stab at it.
Kevin Patra of NFL.com projected the non-QB MVP for every NFL team for the 2022 NFL season and predicted that Kansas City defensive tackle Chris Jones will be the winner of the award for the reigning AFC West champions.
“With the offense breaking in new faces, let’s look at the defensive side of the ball,” Patra wrote on July 7. “Jones is the keystone player for the Chiefs’ D. After the failed experiment with the DT on the edge last season, Jones proved how vital he is in wrecking opposing offenses from the interior down the stretch as the K.C. defense coalesced.
“Since 2018, Jones ranks second among all interior linemen with 41.0 sacks and 257 pressures, behind only Aaron Donald. The Chiefs continue to have questions at edge rusher, making Jones’ presence much more vital. The 27-year-old owns the potential to be a game-wrecking difference-maker in a rugged AFC West.”
To add to the accolades already mentioned by Patra, Jones has earned Pro Bowl nods in three consecutive seasons, and last season he was the Chiefs’ highest-graded defensive player, according to PFF (83.4).
The only other non-QB that had a strong case to be named the projected MVP for the 2022 season was tight end Travis Kelce. Players such as linebacker Nick Bolton and safety Justin Reid could also have cases made for them. But Kansas City’s defense would be in a much worse situation if they didn’t have Jones in the trenches as opposed to Kelce on offense. So, Jones is the rightful projected winner of the award.
Cullen: Expect ‘Career Years’ from Jones, Clark
Chiefs defensive line coach Joe Cullen, who joined Kansas City’s coaching staff this offseason after being the Jacksonville Jaguars defensive coordinator, made a bold claim involving Chris Jones and defensive end Frank Clark.
“Well, I’ll tell you what, those are two of my favorite guys,” Cullen explained on June 2. “I was at another place when they were coming out. I mean, I expect those guys to have career years and play the best they have in their career. And if we do that, that will elevate the whole team. And I expect that. Those guys who work — and this is voluntary — this is not mandatory. I’ve been in touch with both of those guys and love the way they play and love what they’re all about.”
Kansas City experimented with Jones off the edge in 2021 but found that he was better suited in the defensive interior come the second half of the season. When asked what Jones’ role will be next season, Cullen hinted at Jones resuming his full-time role at defensive tackle.
“Well, I think when Chris (Jones) is on his game, there is not a better defensive tackle in the NFL,” Cullen said. “You saw that in the championship run. I mean, there will be different spots. He’ll move around within the nature of the scheme, but I’m excited to get him in here and get rolling.”