How Pass Rusher George Karlaftis – AKA Furious George – Helped Catalyze a Young Chiefs Defense

Furious George -- Kansas City Chiefs pass rusher George Karlaftis -- didn't help get this defense into a fearsome unit by monkeying around.

LAKE LAS VEGAS — On Super Bowl 58’s Opening Night, Kansas City Chiefs All-Pro DT Chris Jones gave credit to the young guys on defense. When it came to a tougher, defensive-minded Chiefs identity, the veteran offered up names like George Karlaftis as the transformative source. Karlaftis shared his thoughts with Pro Football Network on how the defense took shape.

How Did the Chiefs’ Defensive Growth Happen?

For Furious George, it started at OTAs. “We came together in OTAs and challenged each other to become better. We had a challenge from our coaches, and we knew we were capable of it at the end of the day. I think there’s a reason we’re in this position right now.”

Karlaftis, Trent McDuffie, Nick Bolton, Willie Gay — the Chiefs have complementary young defenders at every level of the defense.

Karlaftis continued: “We had a lot of guys that were first-year starters, not even necessarily rookies. And the biggest thing is making that leap being a first-year starter, (going from) a rookie to that next level, if you will.”

In one fewer game played, Karlaftis — the Grecian Goliath, as my colleague Oli Hodgkinson affectionately refers to him — nearly doubled his sack total from his rookie season.

MORE: Chris Jones Emphasizes Chiefs’ Difficult Postseason Journey to Super Bowl 58

The Chiefs ranked No. 2 in sacks this year, on top of being No. 2 in both scoring and yardage. They have effectively limited the Miami Dolphins, Buffalo Bills, and Baltimore Ravens in the playoffs (including a combined 11 of 37 on third-down conversions). Two of those victories and staunch defensive game plans came on the road.

It’s a defense that has unquestionably gone to “that next level.”

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