While Andy Reid, Eric Bieniemey, and Steve Spagnuolo get the limelight, the entire Chiefs coaching staff shows week in and week out why they are the best in the NFL.
It’s been just over eight years since football in Kansas City changed forever, but on January 4th, 2013 the Chiefs hired Andy Reid, and the rest has been history. A 93-37 regular-season record is indicative of a culture change for the better, but appearing in three straight AFC Championship games, winning two of them, and winning a Super Bowl shows a much larger change.
While Reid has been revolutionary with the offense he has called and helped Patrick Mahomes reach superstardom, he hasn’t been able to do it alone. He has the best coaching tree in the NFL for a reason, and his ability to turn out championship-winning head coaches is in large part due to his ability to look into the future, but much like he can develop great players he can do the same with coaches.
His coordinators have been at the top of the league in almost every statistical category over the past few seasons and the most high-profile coach of that group has been Offensive Coordinator Eric Bieniemy. Coming in as a running backs coach in 2013 Bieniemy has worked his way up the coaching tree, and now helps lead one of the best offenses of all time.
As the running back coach, he has worked with players like Jamaal Charles, Kareem Hunt, and most certainly has had some impact on the development of Clyde Edwards-Helaire, and Darrel Williams. As an OC his units have been top ten in the NFL every season. While he isn’t the play-caller and doesn’t design most of the plays the Chiefs run, it’s still apparent every week how much his players respect him and what kind of a leader he is.
Eventually, he will leave the Chiefs to take over as a head coach somewhere, but right now adding another Super Bowl to his resume can only help. Eight years is a long time to stay anywhere as an NFL assistant. Reid trusts him with one of the most critical positions on his staff, and together they have created an expectation to score points (a lot of them) and win games.
Defensive Coordinator Steve Spagnuolo was fortunate enough to join a team on the verge of greatness, but would not receive the luxury of time. When most coordinators take over in a new situation they are usually coaching a team in the middle of a rebuild, and given a few years to implement their system and find the personnel they like. Spag’s didn’t have the luxury of time, and in fact was under immense pressure to win right away, while going to a completely different 4-3 defense with almost all new players.
If there is one thing he has proven in his two short seasons it’s that his defense will step up on the biggest stage, and he isn’t afraid to blitz the quarterback. This was apparent when his defense made massive stops to end the Super Bowl last year, and the way his unit came out and dominated the Buffalo Bills in this past week’s AFCCG.
The Chiefs were able to win a Super Bowl in just one year, where his defense ranked 7th in total points allowed, and with the development of players like L’Jarius Sneed the unit looks like it could be set for a while. This season the unit was the best defense in the NFL at defending passes over ten yards, with ten touchdowns to fifteen interceptions, and allowing a completion percentage of 41%. His unit is just now hitting its stride.
Dave Toub has been another cornerstone of Reid’s roster serving as both the Assistant Head Coach and Special Teams coordinator. His units have consistently ranked high in the NFL, and he has worked with some great talent since taking over in 2013.
His unit has 12 kickoff return touchdowns in that time which leads the league over the time frame, and he has also played a big role in the development of kicker Harrison Butker and new punter Tommy Townsend. It was also his units where Tyreek Hill took the league by storm as a rookie in 2016. Toub has been a staple of the Chiefs since Reid took over, and in large part has played a huge role in the continuity of the staff.
While Reid and his coordinators have been outstanding they have also been able to gather a staff of up and comers on both sides of the football, all of whom have potential coordinator ability as well as the possibility of being future head coaches.
The most decorated assistant coach is defensive line coach Brendan Daly, who has not only won the Super Bowl in his first year as the Chief DL coach but three others as the New England Patriots defensive line coach. he has had a chance to coach under Andy Reid, Bill Belichick, and steve Spagnuolo. His units have had successes as well. Top ten in defense every year in New England, and has helped Chris Jones become one of the elite players at his position in the NFL.
Quarterbacks Coach Mike Kafka has already drawn interest this offseason as a possible head coach candidate for the work he has done with Patrick Mahomes and Andy Reid. A former Reid QB in Philadelphia Kafka has been a fast riser through Reids ranks, with only five years total coaching, four of them with the Chiefs. If Bieniemy leaves Kaffka will be next in line to be the Chiefs offensive coordinator and be on the fast track to being an NFL head coach.
Receivers coach Greg Lewis and run running backs coach Deland McCullough have had a chance to not only be surrounded by great coaches but have coached some of the most explosive talents in the NFL. Last year, in particular, McCullough was able to work with a thin Chiefs backfield to find production, which culminated in Damien William’s big performance in the last two postseasons.
Defensive Backs coach Greg Lewis and linebackers coach Matt House have the important task of developing the next line of superstars. Lewis can continue to work with rising stars like Juan Thornhill, and L’Jarius Sneed, while House will have a chance to help Willie Gay turn into a potentially game-breaking player. House and Lewis should also be credited with helping veteran players like Bashaud Breeland, and Anthony Hitchens to career years in 2020.
No team is complete without an offensive line, and every team needs an offensive line coach. Andy Heck has been one of the best in the NFL for a long time and has coached some fantastic players in his time in Kansas City, as well as playing a role in helping the Chiefs’ offense be so explosive. That being said the Chiefs offense having so much success in 2020 has been a miracle considering most of the offensive line at this point are backups. This upcoming game the against a very good Tampa Bay front seven Heck is going to have to find a way to help Reid come up with a protection plan, with backups at nearly every position.
Winning a Super Bowl is a team effort, but going back a year after winning is an effort for the entire organization. Coaching for the Chiefs is going to be critical moving forward. The Chiefs have serious money locked up in just a few players, including the Mahomes mega-deal, Travis Kelce, Tyreek Hill, Chris Jones, Frank Clark, Anthony Hitchens for just one more year, and a potential extension for Tyrann Mathieu on the horizon.
This means drafting and developing their own talent is key moving forward, and not for just high round draft picks who are expected to come in and contribute. A part of what has made the Chiefs so good has been their ability to take mid to late-round draft picks, or undrafted players and turn them into contributors.
On this team alone look no further than L’Jarius Sneed, Charvarious Ward, Rashad Fenton, Byron Pringle, Darrel Williams, Nick Allegretti, and Tershawn Wharton to name a few. These players have long outplayed their contractual value or draft value, now they are just adding value. This is the result of great coaching, taking players with talent and putting them in positions to win reps, pays, and games. This team is special, and this coaching staff is a major reason why.