Which Andy Reid understudy would you most like to start a team with? The question can be taken a myriad of ways. Are we talking current understudies? Or does this question include them all, past and present, that have moved on to bigger and better gigs leading their teams to SuperBowls? To look at all of them, we need to pull Andy Reid’s coaching tree. The most recent move for Reid coordinator has been Matt Nagy and his team up in the Chicago. While he found some success year one with ‘da Bears, he struggled last year after some offensive regression and finds himself on the hot seat in year 3. Another recent graduate who has found success elsewhere is Doug Pederson, who led his Eagles past the Pats in the 2018 Super Bowl, finding the proverbial pay dirt before his mentor Reid did this past year. One more Reid understudy was Ron Rivera, who had been with the Panthers since 2011, until he left this year to make the move north to Washinton. And possibly the most household name on Reid’s list is John Harbaugh, who has been at the helm with Baltimore since 2008, also notching a Super Bowl victory before his old head coach. And these are just the more successful head coaches that have served under Andy, with the full list revealing a whose-who of powerful HC’s and Coordinators throughout the NFL. Left off that list were the likes of Sean Mcdermott, who has had Buffalo vying for playoff contention ever since he took the job, Pat Shurmur, who spent a couple quick years in Cleveland in their never ending carousel, or even his current Defensive Coordinator, Steve Spagnuolo, who had a quick stint at the helm of the (then) St. Louis Rams.So which list do we go by? I’m going to do a bit of both.
If we go by all time understudies, I think the choice becomes a little harder. But if we are just talking about current understudies, that choice is a relatively quick one. The answer is Eric Bienemy, who probably should have gotten a job this past season if he wasn’t interviewed by so many teams without being seriously considered for a job (thanks for the interviews I guess, Rooney Rule.) Bienemy has been the man behind the NFL’s most prolific offense the past 2 seasons, with the help of Andy Reid’s play calling, although that was never a hang up for other OC’s of Andy’s to get a gig elsewhere. He also served as the RB’s coach in KC for 4 years before that. Heading into his 3rdyear at the helm of the offense, Bienemy and the boys look primed to repeat the Super Bowl run they had last year after returning 20 of 22 starters from the big game. And if you don’t go with Bienemy, you are kinda stuck with Spags, who had his shot like I said above with the Rams, and was a bit of a dumpster fire there. That or Dave Toub, who while he has been named assistant Head Coach of the Chiefs since 2018, has never been much more than a Special Teams coordinator, and with all the balls needing to be juggled by a Head Coach in the NFL, Toub strikes me as more of a specialist. But now we discussed the current list, lets get a little bit wider in scope and examine the all-time options.
This list certainly gives us more options to choose from. Do we go with a current graduate, like Nagy or McDermott, or with someone who is a little longer in the tooth, like Ron Rivera? I think the choice really come down to our two Super Bowl winning coaches, Doug Pederson and John Harbaugh. In my opinion this choice wasn’t easy, but I decided to go with the man with longer tenure and has proved himself to produce winning football year in and year out, John Harbaugh. After taking a risk on Harbaugh in 2008, it took him only 5 years to find himself atop the football mountain, winning the SuperBowl in 2013 with Joe Flacco at the helm of his offense. The fact that Harbaugh could lead the Ravens to a Super Bowl victory with Flacco under center, although he did prove himself to be on the edge of being elite in a few years at the top of his game, is impressive in itself. He has shown he can diversify his offense as currently he runs a very different type of offense, with a ton of RPO’s with the ever elusive Lamar Jackson leading things, and honestly Harbaugh leads the biggest threat to a Chiefs multiyear SB dynasty. This shows versatility in coaching style, that he can adjust to a different playing styles that will suit his players best with their varied talents. This is ultimately what led me to the decision, that he could be so successful with 2 vastly different playing styles under center for him showed me a versatility that I just didn’t see with Doug Pederson. Not that he doesn’t have the ability, he just hasn’t had the time yet, whereas Harbaugh has.