ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — The Broncos have lost 13 consecutive games to the Kansas City Chiefs and their familiar cast of villains, starting with Patrick Mahomes, Travis Kelce and Andy Reid.
“He’s one of the greatest coaches to ever coach the game,” Broncos head coach Nathaniel Hackett said. “I always judge it off of coaches being with different quarterbacks, different teams and showing success at all those different places with different people. His ability to adjust, his ability to plan for the guys that he has is amazing. He’s done it continually over and over.”
The offense is the Chiefs’ calling card—which makes sense considering they lead the NFL in points and yardage—but a pair of pass rushers might be just as important when they take on the Broncos in Denver on Sunday.
“Those two guys are absolutely spectacular,” Hackett said.
Chris Jones, 28, already has nine sacks this season, the second-most of his career. That’s especially impressive considering he’s a three-time Pro Bowler. He’s the unanimous second-best interior pass rusher in the NFL and he’ll be No. 1 the day that Aaron Donald retires.
“He’s a jack of all trades who can do everything,” Broncos offensive coordinator Justin Outten said. “You’ve got to have a better plan because throughout the game he just feels like he gets stronger. That’s pretty rare for a guy his size.”
Broncos guard Quinn Meinerz lined up across from Jones for the first time last year as a rookie. It was his fourth start, and first in a road game.
“It was my first time in a primetime game and also my first game going silent count,” Meinerz said.
Between that Sunday Night matchup and the season-ending loss to the Chiefs, Meinerz played about 30 snaps lineup up in front of Jones.
“He’s a really good player. He’s been playing a long time. He’s crafty; that’s one of the things I learned in the first game,” Meinerz said. “Using that information this year will help a lot.”
And Jones isn’t the only pass-rushing threat.
“At the same time, you have ‘55,'” Hackett said. “Frank is playing at a high level.”
While Jones is the headliner in the Chiefs’ defensive front, he has a solid wingman in edge rusher Frank Clark. The 29-year-old only has three sacks this season, but 15 of his 32 pressures and nine of his 17 tackles have come in the last three weeks.
The Broncos gave up three pressures last week, their fewest of the season. They spent more time under center and averaged 1.7 tight ends on the field per snap.
“We always want to be multiple in our personnel,” Hackett said. “We’ve decided that is a good combination. We’ve done good in the run game, we’ve done good in the play-pass, and with some of the drop back that we’ve done with that grouping. We always want to try to keep it as multiple as we possibly can.”
The Ravens game was also the first time since Week 5 that the Broncos used the same starting offensive line in consecutive games. The streak could extend to three if Dalton Risner’s shoulder leaves him in good enough shape to play. He participated in practice for the first time this week on Friday but was limited. He is questionable for Sunday. (Risner also won the Broncos’ nomination for Walter Payton Man of the Year this week.)
“It’s nice to have the same five guys to keep working,” Meinerz said. “Looking forward to battle with those guys every week.”