Chiefs believe in Andy Reid
PHILADELPHIA -- Andy Reid has fixed the Kansas City Chiefs.
The reclamation project from 2-14 a season ago to a playoff contender this year is far from finished, but the early results have proven that one man, one mind, one vision and a consistency of purpose can produce positive results.
Three games the Chiefs have played. Three times they have walked away victorious. More will undoubtedly come. The only question is, how many?
The latest win was Thursday night, and what happened in the final seconds spoke volumes about the effect Reid has had on the Kansas City organization and its players. This was Reid's homecoming, his return to the city where he cut his teeth as a head coach, where he won a lot of games and built a powerhouse and then slid down the backside of the mountain. All week, Reid downplayed the significance of playing at Lincoln Financial Field against the Philadelphia Eagles, the team he coached for 14 seasons and took to five NFC Championship Games. It was just another game, he said. No big deal.
But as the final seconds ticked down on the Chiefs' 26-16 win over the Eagles, wide receivers Dwayne Bowe and Donnie Avery grabbed the cooler of Gatorade. They snuck behind Reid, who was standing on the sideline, watching and savoring and hearing the Chiefs' fans in the stands behind him chant his name. Bowe and Avery drenched Reid. They gave him the glorified Gatorade shower.
It is Week 3. The Chiefs didn't just win the division. They didn't just qualify for the playoffs. They won a game in September. And yet it was huge for Reid, and not only did the players know it, but they cared enough to celebrate it with him. Already, the team has come to love their coach because he is consistent, he is real, he has capital from having won 130 regular-season games in Philadelphia, and he doesn't throw anyone under the bus, ever. There is no situation or problem that Reid has not encountered. There are no surprises, no competing agendas and no unpredictability.
The players feed off that. They believe in Reid. The results, so far, have proven him right.
"He really approached this game as if it was just a regular game," cornerback Brandon Flowers said. "It was the guys in the locker room rallying around him. We were like, 'Man, we've got to go to Philly and get this win for coach.' When you go from one situation to the next, you appreciate a good thing."
The Chiefs know the flip side. Those who were on the roster in 2009, guys like Flowers and running back Jamaal Charles and linebacker Tamba Hali, know the difference. They lived through the craziness of Todd Haley and then, after Haley was fired during the 2011 season, the unpredictability of Romeo Crennel. They worked in an environment former general manager Scott Pioli made toxic with his paranoid ways.
The players have seen unrest and now they have seen the stability, the calm and the plan.
Reid had it before he ever accepted the job. In his interview with team owner Clark Hunt and president Mark Donovan, Reid said what he was going to do. He would hire Doug Pederson to be his offensive coordinator, but Reid would call the plays. He wouldn't be in charge of personnel. No discussion. That's the way it was going to be.
And it has worked swimmingly thus far. The Chiefs are 3-0 for the eighth time in franchise history and the second time this century. Of the previous seven times the Chiefs were undefeated after three games, they went to the playoffs six times.
The playoffs certainly look like a viable option at this point. Kansas City is 2-0 against the NFC East, a division that Reid dominated for years. Four of the Chiefs' next five games are at home, starting next week against the New York Giants. They travel to Buffalo in Week 9 before a Week 10 bye. After that, the bulk of their AFC West schedule remains, including two games against Denver in three weeks.
At 3-0, it is all moving in the right direction.
Now this game is out of the way. It is merely the view from the plane heading home. Reid came to Philadelphia and he outcoached his successor, who would be wise to study the way Reid comports himself and realize that he's not in Oregon anymore. Chip Kelly's offense has worked for all of two of 12 quarters. It is one thing to think outside the box and yet another to kill your team's momentum by going for an unnecessary two-point conversion when trailing 10-6 in the first quarter. There are things Kelly must learn, like rules on substitutions and how to manage the clock.
Reid makes his share of mistakes, too, but his game plan against the Eagles was sound. At the end of the game, Philadelphia quarterback Michael Vick sought out Reid and embraced him. Left tackle Jason Peters and wide receiver Jason Avant did, too. As Reid jogged off the field following the victory, a fan in the stands yelled, "Thank you, Andy." Before ducking into the tunnel that led to the visitor's locker room, Reid pumped his fist toward the stands above and smiled.
"After the game is where you felt it, when the players were coming up," Reid told me in a hallway off the locker room. "After the game, I just appreciated what the guys were all about. ... Every game is so important in this league, you try to put [beating the Eagles] out of your mind. I love those kids over there. That's not how I look at it. I look at it is it's a game, and you've got to cut through all of that other stuff. I've been doing it too long to feel all of that."
Reid's players felt it. They feel him. They play for him. They believe in him. They have tasted success, and with Reid at the helm, there is more of that to come.