After another stellar season, Coach Reid has entered the conversation regarding who is the best-of-the-best in NFL coaching history. Is he worthy enough to be on the proverbial mountaintop just yet?
Andy Reid has certainly had one of the most illustrious careers in NFL history up to this point and after coaching a 14-win regular season, hosting his third straight Conference Championship game, and making his second straight trip to the Super Bowl the argument could be made that he is a top-five head coach of all-time…but could he be in the top four?
While some of his career has been darkened due to a bad season or his particularly bad record in Conference Championship games (3-5) he is still one of the best coaches to ever perform the job, and here’s why:
Reid’s 14 years in Philadelphia as head coach ended with a 130-93-1 record (.583 win %) with 10 more wins coming from his nine playoff runs where Philly went 10-9 (.526%). Also in Philadelphia he helped 19 different Eagles make 44 total Pro Bowls–the most of any head coach for any team during that period–and reached five NFC Championship games, with four of them coming consecutively from ’01-’04.
Since leaving Philadelphia and joining Kansas City in 2013 Reid has done nothing but great things: he’s won at least 10 games in all-but-one season (’14), he’s won 91 out of KC’s 128 regular-season games (.711%), and he’s broken almost every record in the franchise’s history books, including–but not limited to–best regular-season record (14-2), longest winning streak (13), and the best start to a season (9-0).
Before Reid came to Kansas City the Chiefs had not had a first-round bye since 2003, they had not won a playoff game since 1993, and they had not won a Super Bowl since 1969, but over the course of the past three seasons, Andy Reid has made all of those long-standing records seem like a distant memory with his postseason success.
On top of all of this, he is also the only coach to take two separate teams to three straight conference title games and has a 31-5 record over the AFC West division since 2015–something that the Chiefs social media acknowledged in a hilarious response to the Raiders’ and Chargers’ tweets.
So where do all these statistics land Reid on the spectrum of “greatest head coach of all time”? Would his stats and legacy up to now land him on the ‘Mount Rushmore’ of NFL head coaches? Or does he still have a ways to go before reaching the likes of Bill Belichick, Don Shula, Bill Walsh, or Chuck Noll?
Just like comparing M.J. to LeBron, or Ronaldo to Messi, it all starts with the win column and how many victories they bring their team. For Reid (238) the magic number is 32, that’s two seasons’ worth of wins before Reid ties legendary Dallas HC Tom Landry for 4th all-time in total wins (270) including playoffs.
Surely wins are important, but they can also be misleading considering how long some coaches have stayed in the NFL, for instance, it’s easy to think that Shula might be the best coach of all time thanks to the undefeated season and the 347(!) total wins but he also coached for 33 years so there were bound to be more victories than Reid could even attain in his time as a coach so far.
But at this very moment, Reid is about to enter his 23rd season as a head coach and is currently 6th on the all-time regular-season win list (221) with only six wins separating him from passing legendary Green Bay coach Curly Lambeau (226).
Reid also has a higher winning percentage (.629%) in the regular season than nine of the 14 head coaches who have coached at least 300 games, not only that he has a higher postseason winning percentage (.531%) than five of them as well.
Speaking of winning in the postseason, Reid is already in the top four of all NFL coaches with regards to playoff victories (17), which is tied with Washington’s historic head coach Joe Gibbs and only two behind Shula (19), and only three behind Landry (20).
So, if the Mount Rushmore of NFL coaches was based solely on wins–both regular season and postseason–then Reid would soon be closing in on the coveted #4 spot after the 2021 season concludes, behind the likes of Shula (347), George Halas (324), Bill Belichick (311 & counting), and Landry (270).
Championships seem to be the basis for almost every argument about who’s the G.O.A.T. of their sport or who’s top-5 in their field, and because of that Reid will seemingly fall short to the big names like Bill Walsh (3), Chuck Noll (4), Halas (6), Belichick (6) or Paul Brown (7) every time.
While Reid has only won one of his three Super Bowls as a head coach (LIV) he has gone to four total, winning the only one he went to as an assistant coach (XXXI), and with those games comes experience that you simply cannot teach; if he can continue his dominance over the AFC in the coming years he should easily have at least one more Super Bowl appearance–if not a plethora more–and hopefully more rings to bring home to KC.
Now it goes without saying that sometimes a coach can be great but have a poor QB (and vice versa), but when looking at the NFL coaches in history with more Championship/Super Bowl trophies than Reid it’s not hard to think they might have fewer championships if it weren’t for the talent they had under center.
For example, Belichick showed this past season that Tom Brady was the glue that held the Patriots above everyone else for the past two decades as Brady was Belichick’s QB for all six of his Super Bowl victories. Same for Vince Lombardi and Bart Starr with their five total championships. And for Shula and Bob Griese. Oh, and all of Paul Brown’s seven championships came with Otto Graham quarterbacking for him.
Do you see the pattern here…?
What I’m getting at is that Reid has seemingly never had the best QB in the league playing for him (before Mahomes) and even though Donovan McNabb, Michael Vick, and Alex Smith were all great in their own way they were never better than all 31 other QBs while playing for him.
(*Note: Brett Favre played for Reid and won a Super Bowl with him but never when Reid was a head coach, only as an offensive assistant and QB coach*)
Another aspect of coaching that is usually brought up when conceptualizing the Mount Rushmore of NFL coaches is their coaching tree, which Reid has definitely watered and nurtured into one of the best that the league has ever seen.
Reid has shown that he is one of, if not the, most innovative offensive minds that the NFL has ever seen (no offense to Walsh or Shula) and he has continually stayed ahead of the curve when it comes to the ever-changing look of NFL offenses, something that shows every week when Mahomes and KC’s offense dazzle everyone, but it also shows when Reid’s offensive coordinators move on and begin coaching another team.
Reid’s tree is filled with notable names like John Harbaugh (129-79), Ron Rivera (83-72-1), and recently retired Brad Childress (39-35), but when Reid’s tree is compared to the likes of those above him it stands out among the rest, especially when it comes to Super Bowls/Championships.
So far three of Reid’s previous coordinators or assistants have gone on to coach a team in the Super Bowl (Harbaugh, Rivera, Doug Pederson) and two have won it (SBs 47 & 52). Now put…let’s say, Bill Belichick’s tree next to Reid’s and one can see that Belichick’s tree doesn’t have a branch to stand on (I’m sorry, I couldn’t help myself).
Reid’s tree is currently 21-23 in the playoffs and has a collection of five total Super Bowl wins–two from head coaches (Harbaugh, Pederson) and three from Defensive Coordinators Todd Bowles’ (’21), Leslie Frazier (’07), and Steve Spagnuolo (’08)–which is far better than Belichick’s tree (2-6) or almost any other coach’s tree other than, perhaps, Paul Brown.
What this should symbolize when placing the best four NFL head coaches on a pedestal is that although the coach themselves may not have the most wins, or the most Super Bowl trophies, or the most “Coach of the Year” awards (Reid only has one from 2002), their coaching tree’s success is an indication of their skill as a coach and their eye for talent.
So in the end it doesn’t appear that Andy Reid may be in the top four of all time right now, especially considering the coaches who set the bar so high (Brown, Shula, Landry, etc.) were all coaching in a different era with fewer games, fewer teams, and fewer rules.
But that does not mean he’s not extremely close, if anything there is just the argument of Super Bowl victories and appearances versus everything else under Reid’s belt, both of which will likely be corrected with the way that Mahomes and the Chiefs have looked for the past three seasons.
But what does Reid need before he makes the mustache a permanent part of the NFL coaching Mount Rushmore?
Time, simple as that. He needs time to build Mahomes into the perfect soldier (if he isn’t already), he needs time to bring Kansas City to more Super Bowls, and he needs time to collect more victories as he has throughout most of his career.
But at the moment it is my belief that the Mount Rushmore of NFL Head Coaches should be:
-Don Shula (for changing the face of NFL defenses and going undefeated in ’72)
-Paul Brown (for the sheer insanity of winning 7 championships in 10 seasons)
-Tom Landry (for basically creating pre-snap motion and re-introducing the shotgun formation which has led to the game we know today)
-Vince Lombardi (for the dominance that he held over the league during his 10-year career where he won five championships–including the first two Super Bowls–which led to the trophy that everyone dreams of holding to be named after him)
*Honorable mentions: Bill Belichick, Chuck Noll, George Halas, and Curly Lambeau