Eagles offensive lineman recalls benching after being destroyed by Chiefs’ Chris Jones in 2017


PHOENIX -- Jason Kelce called it a coming-out party.

Chris Jones called it “a lot of fun.”

Isaac Seumalo did not want to recall it at all.

Five years ago, the Eagles had a dream season, winning the first Super Bowl in franchise history. But in Week 2, they traveled to Kansas City and learned a lot more than they wanted to about Jones, a second-year pass rusher out of Mississippi State who had two career sacks going into the game.


That day, despite not starting and despite playing only 32 of his team’s 72 defensive snaps, Jones had three sacks, two forced fumbles and an interception during the Chiefs’ 27-20 victory over the Eagles.

“That was like his coming-out party in the NFL,” Kelce said Monday during Super Bowl LVII Opening Night. “It was a great game for him and it was a great game for my brother (Jason). He jumped from like the 5-yard line into the end zone. I don’t like to think about that game too much. We ultimately got the bragging rights that year by winning the Super Bowl, but that game definitely went in Kansas City’s favor.”

Kelce admitted that he did not know much about Jones before the game.

“We knew he was a high pick, but you never really expect something like that from a young player,” Kelce said. “But during the game and after the game, we talked about how that guy was going to be a special player. You figured that out from that game.”

Seumalo was also in his second NFL season and making his sixth career start. He would not make his seventh career start until Week 5 of the following season after bearing the brunt of Jones’ destructive performance. Veteran Stefen Wisniewski eventually took over as the starter at left guard and was there when the Eagles beat the New England Patriots in the Super Bowl.

“Yeah, what about it?” Seumalo said when asked about Jones’ dominating day. “It was a bad game. It was probably one of the worst games of my career, if not the worst. I got benched from it. Some lessons you have to learn the hard way. It was a lesson you’d like to learn a little more privately, but sometimes that’s how this business is.”

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It took a while, but Seumalo eventually became the player the Eagles hoped he’d become when they took him in the third round out of Oregon State in 2016.

“Mentally, I had to change the way I approached the game,” Seumalo said. “I’ve definitely gotten better since then.”

According to Pro Football Focus, he was the ninth highest graded guard in the NFL this season and allowed just one sack.

Jones said he had no idea that Seumalo got benched after that game in 2017 and he didn’t really seem to care.

“All I can say is we had a lot of fun in that game and we got the win,” Jones said. “But it’s a completely different team now and we have to prepare to make sure we’re ready for this game.”

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While it’s true Seumalo has improved, it’s also true that Jones has developed into a pass-rushing star just as Jason Kelce thought he might five years ago.

“I didn’t know much about him then,” Seumalo said. “I know now. He’s one of the best in the game.”

Jones was tied for fourth in the NFL with 15.5 sacks, matching the total he put up in 2018. PFF ranked him as the best interior defender in the NFL just ahead of the Giants’ Dexter Lawrence and Aaron Donald of the Los Angeles Rams.

The Eagles, however, did a much better job against Jones a year ago when the teams played a Week 4 game in Philadelphia. The Chiefs won again, but Jones was unable to record a sack of quarterback Jalen Hurts. He did, however, have six hurries and a quarterback hit.

“I don’t know what happened,” Jones said. “They have the best offensive line. They just blocked me.”

Does Jones really think the Eagles have the best offensive line?

“That’s what they rate it as,” he said. “They’re the best. You have to give it to them, they’re the best.”

Seumalo did not play in the game last season because he had suffered a season-ending ankle injury the week before.

Now, it would seem, is his chance for redemption on the biggest stage the NFL can offer.

“I only care about winning, man,” Seumalo said. “I’m going to do my job to the best of my ability and the win is all I care about.”

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Bob Brookover can be reached at rbrookover@njadvancemedia.com.

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