With September officially upon us and still no Chris Jones, Kansas City Chiefs fans have to be sweating a little. The defending Super Bowl champions kick off the 2023-24 NFL season at home against the Detroit Lions next Thursday, but it is looking less likely that their All-Pro defensive tackle will be suiting up.

Despite an optimistic stance from general manager Brett Veach, Jones has yet to end his contract holdout. KC's head coach had no concrete answer about his Week 1 playing status. “I'm just working with the guys we have & making sure we're set there,” Andy Reid said on Friday, according to The Athletic's Nate Taylor.

Fans are hoping that $2 million in fines that the 29-year-old has already accrued, along with the millions to come, is enough to incentivize a swift resolution. Jones, who is entering the final year of his contract, has said that he is willing to sit out until Week 8 if necessary. The Chiefs have done an exemplary job at replacing top-tier talent on offense, but they have had the luxury of relying on the four-time Pro Bowler on defense.

Asking quarterback Patrick Mahomes to shoulder more responsibilities is not ideal, even if he is more than up to the task. This team still needs the healthy balance that Chris Jones provides on a weekly basis. His continued absence affects Kansas City in the present but potentially in the future as well. Even reigning champs need some time to re-develop on-field chemistry.

Without their premiere pass-rusher, the Chiefs cannot afford a Super Bowl hangover. They must be completely focused on the dangerous Lions, Jones or no Jones.