Randy LangeSenior Reporter, newyorkjets.com
Sunday’s Jets-Chiefs game has many angles, and one of them is the relationship between the two head coaches. When Kansas City coach Andy Reid was with Philadelphia, he brought in Jets coach Todd Bowles as his secondary coach in 2012, and Bowles has never forgotten.
“Andy taught me a lot,” Bowles recalled of that season, which began with Reid dealing with his son’s death and ended with his firing by the Eagles. “For him to be the same guy every day really taught you a lot about the other side of coaching and how you have to carry yourself, whether you played good or played bad.”
“Todd’s very intelligent, has a great football mind, he’s a good person, he relates well to players, he relates well to people,” Reid said this week. “He knows people, not just players. He gets it.”
One thing that both coaches can’t get Sunday is the win. All feelings of mutual admiration go out the window when they kick it off, knowing that the winner will go to 2-1 overall and in the AFC while the loser will drop to 1-2 and 1-2.
Who will enjoy a KC masterpiece? Here are seven points for the Jets-Chiefs game:
1. Chiefly Even
Flip a coin in this rivalry. The Jets and Chiefs are 17-17-1 against each other, including 1-1 in the playoffs — KC’s win at windy Shea in 1969 and the Jets’ wild-card victory in ’86. Will this game follow recent trends at Arrowhead? Then the Chiefs, who beat the Jets in their last two visits in ’05 and ’14 and have won seven straight against all visitors, hold the upper hand. Or will the overall direction of the rivalry prevail? Then it’s the Jets, who’ve won three of the last four.
2. Driving Ambition
One way to hold the Arrowhead faithful to a dull roar is to keep the red team’s offense off the field.Ryan Fitzpatrick, Matt Forté (about whom Bowles said, “30 is the new 25, I guess”) and the Jets offense have been up to the task, grinding out 10 drives of 50-plus yards in their first two games and seven alone at Buffalo — only the third game with that many half-field marches in franchise history. A spinoff of that ball control is that the Jets have averaged 37:03 in possession time, second in the NFL only to the Eagles’ 37:43.
3. Productive but Pained
How healthy will Fitz’s targets be? WR Eric Decker, who has seven straight games with a TD catch, has a sore shoulder. Brandon Marshall, who has seven TDs in his last five games against KC, has his twisted knee. Both did not practice Wednesday. Quincy Enunwa, coming off his career-high 92-yard game at BUF and with 13 receptions on 14 targets this year, racked his ribs. Those three plus rookie Jalin Marshall supplied 364 of Fitzpatrick’s 374 passing yards vs. the Bills. Call us cockeyed optimists, but we suspect all will be available.
4. The Charles Factor
While Forté is thriving on his workload (59 touches, tied for 2nd in the league), Jamaal Charles’ work has been all of the rehab variety since October, when he underwent his second ACL surgery. Reid won’t say if he’s starting vs. the Jets but Charles was limited Wednesday. When he does return, will he be as good as before the injury? “Yeah, I think so,” Reid said, “I think so.” That would be exceptionally good — Charles’ 5.5 yards/carry is a half-yard better than all other NFL backs all-time with at least 1,000 carries. In his stead, Spencer Ware has averaged 6.0 yards/carry and 10.5 yards/catch this season.
5. Dueling Marcuses
Over the past two seasons, the two NFL corners with the most interceptions are the Chiefs’ Marcus Peters and the Jets’ Marcus Williams. Williams had his second INT of the season and his eighth in 2015-16 — a key pick that turned the Bills away in Jets territory on the first play of the fourth quarter. So far those are the only two takeaways for the Jets’ defense this season. Peters, meanwhile, leads the NFL in ’15-16 with 10 picks, including two in the loss at Houston. He also gave up two big plays and was flagged for taunting vs. the Texans, and he had a similar hot-and-cold game in the opener. The Jets wouldn’t mind one more in Game 3.
6. Turning Up the Pressure
Even with no sacks of Tyrod Taylor (one was wiped out by a Bills hold, another by a Jets hold), the Green & White still are third in the NFL in sack rate and have a number of players — Muhammad Wilkerson,Leonard Williams, Sheldon Richardson, Lorenzo Mauldin — who want QB pelts for their walls. “They’re good,” QB Alex Smith said. “Every guy out there can go and get after it, run and pass.” Perhaps Smith will cooperate? He’s been hit 16 times (10 by the Texans), sacked seven times, and has lost a strip sack plus another aborted fumble.
7. Keeping Hill from the Hoop
This could be an early referendum on coordinator Brant Boyer’s specialists. Confident J.Marshall has a 24.8-yard kickoff-return average for the Jets, seventh in the NFL. But the Jets’ coverage team will be challenged by Chiefs rookie Tyreek Hill, who’s fourth at 27.7 and turned on his 4.3 speed for a would-be game-tying 105-yard return at Houston that was wiped by what Reid felt was a phantom holding call: “If it was basketball, it probably would’ve been ruled a flop.” The Jets will try to kick it deep and keep Hill from taking it to the hoop … er, house.