In today’s pass-happy NFL, the running game is often overlooked in favor of big-play schemes that make the game more exciting and provide every-down threats against defenses that struggle to keep up.
As the opening kickoff of the Kansas City Chiefs season approaches, an underrated aspect of their matchup against Cleveland is the Browns’ unique one-two punch on the ground with Kareem Hunt and Nick Chubb, which could prove to be a deciding factor in what many predict will be a close game.
Speaking to reporters after Thursday’s practice, newly converted defensive end Chris Jones said that Cleveland’s offense was constructed to thrive on the ground. Their offense is a unique challenge given the need to stop the run paired with the talent they’ve assembled at receiver.
“The overall team is built to run the ball,” Jones said of the Browns’ offense, “We used to have Kareem Hunt who was very aggressive, and Nick Chubb and those guys set the standard. They’ve got elite wide receivers with Odell Beckham Jr. and Jarvis Landry, so they present all types of challenges for our defense. So, you have to play fast, physical and try to match the physicality they’re giving us.”
He continued, saying that for him and his role personally, the game plan is practically the same as when he played defensive tackle.
“(I’ve) still got the same mentality—do your job plus one,” he said. “Doing my job, whether it’s setting the edge or whatever the play is designed for me to do and do plus that.”
Jones seemed confident in Kansas City’s ability to win,pushing back a bit when asked if Cleveland was a perceived threat after the Chiefs’ close victory against the Browns in the divisional round of the playoffs last season. He noted that every team is highly motivated in the first week of the season.
“(When) you’re playing in the NFL, every game I feel is a statement piece,” Jones explained. “You can’t worry about last year. Every team is different going into this year and every team’s mindset is different. Everyone is 0-0 right now, so you’re still fighting for 1-0. So, that’s how we will present it and that’s how we’re going to go into it.”
That fight for 1-0 will start at 3:25 p.m. Arrowhead time on Sunday, and anticipation is mounting as the kickoff draws nearer. Jones looked exceptionally good at his new position in the preseason and will be a key figure in the Chiefs’ pursuit of another championship. A big game against Cleveland would provide crucial positive momentum for the star defensive lineman as he seeks to redefine his game.