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Silverman: Chiefs Have Pass-Rush, Relentlessness To Derail Vick's Debut

By Steve Silverman
» More Columns

We know that there's a high level of gratitude coming from Michael Vick to his old coach, Andy Reid. We also know that Reid has a tremendous amount of respect for Vick's athleticism, arm strength and ability to create highlight-film plays on the football field.

But what we also know is that Vick is walking into one of the most difficult assignments he could possibly have when he takes the field at Arrowhead Stadium on Sunday.

It should be a time to celebrate for Jets fans, because Rex Ryan made the only decision he could possibly make and still have any self-respect. He benched the backsliding Geno Smith because he wanted to give his team a legitimate chance to win games the rest of the season.

But it's almost certainly not going to happen this week when the Jets face their former American Football League brethren. The Chiefs have been going through the same miserable march through the championship desert that the Jets have been on for lo these many years.

While the Jets have not won a Super Bowl since Jan. 12, 1969 -- when Joe Namath, Matt Snell, Don Maynard and Weeb Ewbank defeated Don Shula and the Baltimore Colts in Super Bowl III -- the Chiefs have not earned a Super Bowl title since Jan. 11, 1970.

A year (minus one day) after the Jets registered the greatest upset in professional sports history, the Chiefs had their day in the sun. They confirmed the viability of the old AFL and took the "fluke" label off of the Jets. Len Dawson, Otis Taylor, Buck Buchanan and the loquacious Hank Stram defeated Bud Grant and the Minnesota Vikings.

Both teams have been held short of a championship since then, and neither one has even been back to the Super Bowl in a losing role.

But while the Jets suffer from the brutal leadership of John Idzik and the inadequate coaching of Ryan, the Chiefs are moving in the right direction.

They probably don't have enough to beat a team like Denver because they are lacking talent at the wide-receiver position, but Reid has everything else needed to get the Chiefs on track.

The Chiefs have the No. 1 pass-defense in the league, and much of that is due to outside linebackers Justin Houston and Tamba Hali. Both men can get after the quarterback in a heartbeat and are about to make life miserable for Vick. Houston has 10.0 sacks, a deflected pass and a forced fumble, while Hali has 4.0 sacks, three forced fumbles and a fumble recovery.

Aside from those two, the Chiefs have nose tackle Dontari Poe clogging the middle, cornerback Sean Smith doing a relentless job in coverage and inside linebacker Josh Mauga stopping the run.

Reid knows all of Vick's tendencies and tells, and he relayed all of that information to his troops a year ago when the Chiefs pummeled Vick and his former Philadelphia teammates, 26-16. It will almost certainly be even more difficult for Vick this time around because he doesn't have the team he did with the Eagles.

Reid's team is brimming with confidence. Remember, the Chiefs took apart Tom Brady and the Patriots at the end of September, and they are clearly capable of doing the same thing to the Jets.

They have the most explosive running game in the league with Jamaal Charles and Knile Davis. Both of them have game-breaking speed, and Charles is so quick through the gaps that he can turn a trap play up the middle or an off-tackle run into a 40-yard gain. Davis is good enough to start for many other teams and is also a dynamic return man.

Alex Smith may not get respect from the media or the fans, but he is the kind of quarterback who can win games. He is an accurate passer with a strong enough arm and he remains quite athletic for the position. Travis Kelce is a mini-Gronk at tight end, but the receivers are pedestrian.

The Jets' biggest hope is that Reid and Smith make Dwayne Bowe a big part of the game plan. Bowe is in Kansas City because he likes getting paid an NFL salary, but he is not going to pay the price to help his team win.

He's got the talent, but he will go through the motions about three games out of every four, and then turn it on once a month so he can continue to get paid.

It's shocking that the Chiefs haven't figured this out and gotten rid of this imposter.

Kansas City is a winning team and it is fighting for a playoff berth. The Chiefs are not about to have any sympathy for their old AFL brothers.

And as much as Reid is sympathetic to Vick's cause, this could be one difficult day for the Jets' new starting quarterback.

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