This Sunday, Andy Reid will appear in his second Super Bowl as a head coach. In the 2004 NFL season, Reid led the Philadelphia Eagles to the Championship game. Reid’s team came up just short though, losing to the New England Patriots, 24-21. He now gets a second chance to hoist the Lombardi Trophy.
A lot has changed in the 15 years since Reid last coached in the Super Bowl. But what has remained constant is Reid’s ability to get the most out of his players. He knows how to take advantage of their strengths and avoids putting them in situations where their weaknesses might be exploited. That is why he is one of the winningest head coaches in NFL history. The fact that Reid has yet to win a Super Bowl however causes some to doubt his status among the all-time great coaches in the league.
As I was travelling with my family last week in Orlando, a security guard that was checking my bag noticed my Chiefs hat and asked, “What is KC going to do with Reid after the Chiefs lose the Super Bowl?” He went on to tell me that he is an Eagles fan and he got sick of watching Reid lose in the playoffs. He said, “Andy just can’t win in big games.” I politely responded that while I believe Donovan McNabb was a great QB, Patrick Mahomes is otherworldly. The guard retorted that Mahomes doesn’t have anywhere near the offensive weapons that McNabb had. It was clear to me at this point that this man knew nothing of this year’s Chiefs team and was solely basing his opinion on his past frustrations with Reid. And he is not alone. There are many NFL fans that buy into this same narrative.
The knock on Andy Reid, at least since he’s been with the Chiefs, is that he seems too often to let up on teams once he gets a lead. When Reid has a two-possession lead, he seems to take his foot off the gas. In the past, this has come back to haunt Reid. Many times, the Chiefs get an early lead then get conservative on offense. Their opponent then claws back into the game and makes it far too close in the end, sometimes even resulting in a loss.
It appears there has been a shift in coaching strategy since the week 10 loss to the Titans. Granted, the defense has been playing at a much higher level since then, but it also seems as if the offense has continued to apply pressure throughout games, keeping their foot on the gas. Specifically, in the playoffs this year, Reid appears to have the pedal to the metal. Against both the Texans and the Titans, the Chiefs never let up on offense after taking the lead. Perhaps Reid has learned from his previous losses and is not taking any more chances.
One could argue that this is the most talented team Reid has ever coached. The Chiefs offense has been extremely productive since Reid’s arrival in Kansas City. Adding Patrick Mahomes to the mix made it one of the most dangerous offenses in NFL history. When the Chiefs get hot on that side of the ball, they can score points in a hurry. And this forces their opponent out of their game plan. There are not many teams that can keep up with this Chiefs offense. Especially now that the Chiefs have a new and improved defense. Towards the latter part of the season, the Chiefs defense played at an extremely high level. This is, by far, the most balanced Chiefs team I have ever witnessed.
During last week’s press conferences, many Chiefs players and assistant coaches were asked what it would mean for them to get Andy Reid that elusive Super Bowl win. They all responded the same way; they are extremely motivated towards that end. Many even stated they would be happier for Reid than for themselves if they won. The feeling in the Chiefs’ locker room, as well as around the NFL, is that there is no one more deserving of a championship than Reid. This will be an undeniable factor when the players take the field on Sunday.
When Reid was asked how a Super Bowl win would affect his legacy, he said, “It is what it is.” He says he only focuses on the day-to-day preparation of the team for their next game and he doesn’t worry that much about the outside influences. But he has also been a head coach in this league for 21 years and this is only his second trip to the Super Bowl. So, he knows better than most how special this opportunity is for him and his players. Make no mistake, this game means more to Reid than he will admit to the media and he will have his team well prepared.
Even though he didn’t win, the experience of playing in the Super Bowl gives Andy Reid an advantage this week. He is familiar with what it takes to prepare, what distractions the team will face, and what mistakes he may have previously made. He knows how difficult it is to make it to this stage. He will be more prepared this time. That experience, coupled with an ultra-talented roster, led by the best player in the NFL, and a team motivated to get a ring for their coach, make the Chiefs a dangerous team heading into the Super Bowl. And I can’t wait to watch!