SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — The Chiefs know all about the Eagles’ vaunted offensive line.
They know there are three Pro Bowlers and two Pro Bowl alternates in that starting five. They know that the Eagles’ unit, led by Jeff Stoutland, is widely considered to be the best in the NFL. And they don’t disagree.
But the Chiefs are also looking forward to that challenge.
“Absolutely. Why wouldn’t you?” defensive lineman Khalen Saunders said. “If you go against the best of the best and you win, what does that make you?”
He’s not alone.
The star of the Chiefs defensive line is All-Pro Chris Jones, who has been a one-man wrecking crew all season. He’ll be the toughest test on that Chiefs defense for the Eagles in Super Bowl LVII.
But Jones know the Eagles will be a test for him too. Like the rest of his teammates, he’s looking forward to facing the top offensive line in the NFL.
“Always, man,” Jones said. “When you’re going against the best, you always look forward to it. That’s how I think you’d rather have it done, beating the best, going against the best. I know it’s going to be a big challenge. I’m excited about it. I can’t wait for the opportunity.”
Jones is a unique player because he’s a disruptive defensive tackle but he does more than play the 3-technique. In fact, the Chiefs early in games try to move Jones up and down the line to figure out how the opponent is playing him and to find his most advantageous matchup.
“See how they want to block, see what their plan is for me,” Jones said. “We gotta attack them.”
Of course, the problem with this Eagles offensive line is that there isn’t a weak link. From left to right, Jordan Mailata, Landon Dickerson, Jason Kelce, Isaac Seumalo and Lane Johnson are all very good alone. Together, they form one of the best position units — not just offensive lines — in the entire NFL.
That’s what the Chiefs said stands out most about this Eagles line. They work so incredibly well together and in unison. Those guys up front have played a lot of football together and it shows on tape.
What stands out most about the Eagles’ O-line?
“Their chemistry,” Jones said. “How they work and mesh so well together, how they’re able to work together. When you play collectively like that, it’s hard for people to get to your quarterback.”
“They know how to complement each other,” veteran defensive end Frank Clark said.
That’s high praise for Stoutland and assistant offensive line coach Roy Istvan. Because that’s the goal. It’s one thing to have five talented players but getting those five to play in harmony is like listening to a symphony.
Because once they’re on the same page, the athleticism of that unit really starts to take over.
“Then the speed, it’s unbelievable,” Saunders said. “Everybody knows what they’re doing before the snap and they go out and execute it at a really high level. They’re really fast.”
Many folks clearly think the Eagles have a big advantage in these trenches and it sounds like the Chiefs are playing that up internally this week. The Chiefs this season ranked 16th in run defense but did finish the year second in sacks with 55 (just 15 off the incredible 70 from the Eagles).
It’s not like no one thinks the Chiefs' D-line can do it but they’re telling themselves that.
Especially the guys who aren’t All-Pros.
“Everybody knows they have a really good O-line and when you think of the Chiefs’ D-line, you’re like ‘Oh they have Chris,’” Saunders said. “I love it though. I love it. It’s always fun. It’s always a good challenge. It makes it that much better. When you do something, they’re like ‘Who is that?’ It’s all good with me.”
But even the All-Pro and Defensive Player of the Year finalist is happy in an underdog role for the Super Bowl.
“Two high-powered offenses and one good defense with the Philadelphia Eagles and us,” Jones said. “So we shall see.”
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