On the premise that one man’s trash is another’s treasure, Chiefs’ defensive lineman Chris Jones on Wednesday repurposed the neon green Christmas sweater that former teammate Dontari Poe had rejected.
“It takes a certain type of individual to pull this off and actually look good in it,” said Jones, 6-foot-6, 310 pounds, preening near his corner of the locker room and adding, “How do I look?”
Well, most of all like a guy with a mega-personality who couldn’t be more comfortable in his own skin as he meandered around in a getup bearing the words “Birthday Boy.”
Meaning Jesus Christ, that is, not Jones — who was born on a July 3 that apparently had resonance of its own.
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“When I was born, fireworks were popping and everything,” he said, with his nearly perpetual look of bemusement and adding, “It was a day of independence, and this beautiful spirit came into the world to not only change this world but do it in such a way that he brightens things around him.”
To be anywhere near his aura, you’d be hard-pressed to think he doesn’t.
From the corner of the locker room, where his defensive linemates swear he helps them get through the grind … to Arrowhead Stadium, where his demonstrative antics crank up fans … to defensive coordinator Bob Sutton’s appreciation of his sense of humor.
Then again …
“Fun,” Sutton says with a smile, “doesn’t mean you’re always doing the right thing.”
Luckily for all of us, Sutton isn’t suggesting Jones’ playfulness is at odds with his play.
And that’s been particularly evident in the Chiefs’ back-to-back wins over the Oakland Raiders and Los Angeles Chargers to put them in position to clinch the AFC West on Sunday when Miami visits Arrowhead Stadium.
Jones, a second-round pick in the 2016 NFL Draft, made what Sutton called “some very disruptive” plays in that span, including two of his 5 1/2 sacks this season, three his five tackles for loss and four of his 12 quarterback hurries.
Noting how nimble Jones is for his size, Sutton calls him a “unique” talent who has such unusual gifts as to be able to move inside or outside, and such instincts as to be able to block a pass as he’s rushing a quarterback.
“That arrow’s pointing up, and I’m not sure how high it can go,” Sutton said. “It can go pretty high.”
It can … if Jones can become more consistent.
That’s his greatest challenge now, Sutton says.
And that’s less a matter of motor or effort than concentration and attention to detail.
It’s about focus and “doing the mundane multiple times,” Sutton adds, and the grit to do a repetitive task with fresh energy and enthusiasm all the time.
It’s even more purely fundamental than understanding assignments: It’s how from small things big things one day come.
“Channeling might be the best word,” Sutton said. “It’s channeling all this to get this product on a consistent basis.”
This is less a complaint than an observation from Sutton, whom Jones trusts deeply and adds, “How can you not love Bob?”
And the upside to it all is that Sutton believes Jones has come to understand what it will take for him to realize his potential — and that he’s on the cusp of it in many ways.
“That much,” Sutton said, his thumb and forefinger centimeters apart. “Not quantum leaps.”
More of the upside:
Audacious as Jones might be, he really does seem to get it.
“I go into practice looking for things I can get better at,” he said. “The little things in this game mean the most: footwork and hand placement …
“And now that I’ve had an accountable amount of (game plays), I see things I didn’t see my first year.”
Or as teammate Rakeem Nunez-Roches put it: “I would say right now he’s just becoming comfortable with who he is.”
Asked to clarify that he meant on the field, Nunez-Roches laughed. Because to the delight of many, no doubt Jones is plenty comfortable with who he is off it.
Thankfully, too, the Chiefs have done nothing to suppress that.
“They let me accumulate my attitude,” he said, perhaps with a malapropism, to the amusement of teammates listening around him.
So in one moment he can talk sincerely about embracing Sutton’s tutelage while in another he might use some of the same terms to talk about his fondest wish: to have an offensive play drawn up for him.
“Trust the process. Understand. Be patient,” he said. “And your turn will come.”
Until then, though, his time seems to be coming anyway.
“Chris,” Sutton said, “can be about anything he’d like to be in this league.”