On the second day of the second month and in his second Super Bowl as a head coach, Andy Reid won his 222nd game and in doing so clinched his first Lombardi Trophy. Turns out that second time’s a charm for Big Red.
For the first time in fifty years, the Kansas City Chiefs are Super Bowl champions. After two decades in which the NFL has been dominated by the evil empire in Foxborough, seeing the Patriots compete in 8 straight AFC Championship games (winning 5 of them), the Chiefs represent a popular change from the norm. A lot of that is down to the uber popular coach at the helm in western Missouri.
Andrew Walter Reid has been a hugely popular and respected figure in the NFL for over twenty years, since his first head coaching gig in Philadelphia began in 1999. He built a program with the Eagles that was exceptionally competitive. Over the course of his 14 year tenure, the Eagles won six division titles, went to the NFC Championship game five times and made the playoffs nine times.
Despite this success, Reid was unable to lead the Eagles to a title. In 2013, Reid made the move to Kansas City and set to work on leading the Chiefs to the playoffs in five out of the first six years of his reign. History continued to repeat itself however, as the Chiefs fell short again and again in the postseason. In the 2013 playoffs the Chiefs surrendered a 28 point lead to the Colts and lost 45-44. Just two years later Reid was criticised for poor clock management in a loss to the Patriots, as he refused to use timeouts on a TD drive in the fourth quarter that left just over a minute on the clock and his team down 7 on the scoreboard. Widely revered as a play caller and an innovator, Reid was also beginning to be tagged with the bridesmaid status in the NFL. Nonetheless, in much the same way Belichick got Brady and Walsh had Montana, Reid needed some help at the most important position in sports.
Along came Patrick Mahomes.
Donovan McNabb was a top quality quarterback in his pomp. Alex Smith was good but never great. In just three seasons in the NFL, Mahomes has established himself as elite, becoming the first QB to win an MVP and a Super Bowl before reaching the age of 25.
Mahomes is a generational talent and he has clicked with the always fresh, always explosive offensive scheming of his coach in Kansas. In a majestic first season as a starter, Mahomes erupted for 50 TDs and 5000 yards but was ultimately halted by a defence that simply couldn’t get stops.
Mahomes erupted again in the postseason this year but in the Super Bowl, he spent three quarters looking flustered by a ferocious San Francisco 49ers defensive line. Despite question marks lingering over Reid’s decision making in big moments, the Chiefs coach got them absolutely right in this game when his team needed him to. The huge fourth down conversion on only the second drive of the game for the Chiefs allowed them to score a TD and change the complexion of the game early on. Reid showed the aggression that is needed to win Super Bowls, putting points on the board and taking the initiative from your opponent.
Andy Reid has been “loved” in the NFL for a long time now, but that “love” was almost beginning to feel like a patronising pat on the head for one of the best coaches of his generation. Yes, it is great thing to be loved and respected as a terrific innovator. It is great to be acknowledged as being ahead of the curve schematically especially when young guns such as McVay and Shanahan seem to be taking over the game.
But it is even better to be loved and respected without having an unwanted asterisk next to your name. That asterisk represented Reid being the winningest coach in NFL history whilst never having won a Super Bowl. The asterisk is gone and Reid has now punched his ticket to Canton for sure. It was always unfair to compare him to Bill Belichick, as it is unfair to compare almost any coach to the Pats overlord. But, Reid is the second best coach of his generation, without doubt. It took him a while, but the doubters are now silenced as he finally got his hands on the Lombardi Trophy. And with Mahomes as his right hand man for the foreseeable future, you wouldn’t bet against Reid and his Chiefs adding more glory to the legend of Big Red.