Andy Reid’s Decade of Dominance Redefined the Kansas City Chiefs
You can’t always feel the exact moment when the world starts to change. The butterfly flaps its wings and everything you thought you knew has changed forever. But you would never see a butterfly, and even if you did, you would never connect the two events. Former Kansas City Royals Dan Quisenberry once said, “I’ve seen the future and it’s a lot like the present, only longer.” past, and it’s almost impossible to analyze the present as it rushes by. So how should we envision the future? Just how are we supposed to know when shorthand breaks down and the tedious, stubbornly mediocre today is about to give way to a glorious tomorrow?
These moments are at the heart of the greatest dynasties of the modern NFL. In September 1981, after the 49ers, under a new head coach who went 8–24 in his first two seasons, and a 25-year-old quarterback who barely started his first two seasons, started the season 1–2. who could have foreseen that a 21-14 victory over the Saints in Week 4 would set off a 15-game winning streak in the next 16 games and a Super Bowl championship? Did anyone—anyone—know that their coach was Bill Walsh and that their protector was Joe Montana? One of the greatest dynasties in the history of the NFL has just emerged and no one foresaw it.
Sometimes you can determine the exact moment of the change in wind direction, but only retrospectively. When the judging panel ruled out a clear fumble on January 19, 2002 that could have led to a playoff win for the Oakland Raiders, I remember being overjoyed that misfortune befell the Silvers and Blacks and that Al Davis (like any good Midwesterner, I was brought up to believe that he was Lucifer’s personal vicar on earth) deservedly screwed up. I don’t remember thinking that the Tuck Rule would shake the very foundations of football, that a young quarterback who had just received a temporary reprieve would be universally recognized as a GOAT, and that the New England Patriots are Patriots! launch the greatest success in NFL history.
But from time to time, you can almost feel the change in the sports landscape in real time. On October 12, 1989, when the Dallas Cowboys, who had lost 16 of their previous 17 games and were about to lose 10 of their next 11, traded Herschel Walker to the Minnesota Vikings for three first-round picks and three second-round picks (with other picks). and players added on both sides), the Cowboys laid the foundation for a new dynasty. It was such a massive deal that 33 years later “Herschel Walker trade” came into common use in English and meant “a completely one-sided deal.” Even then I knew that the Vikings had done something amazingly stupid.
The same goes for the Kansas City Chiefs, who are about to play in their third Super Bowl in four seasons. They have just made their fifth AFC Championship game in a row, an unprecedented feat that even the Brady’s Patriots have never managed. It is a model professional sports organization, a benchmark against which good NFL teams measure themselves and what bad teams aspire to be. The Chiefs are such a well-oiled machine that they can trade one of the best receivers in the game, 11 rookies, and get better. And you can pinpoint the exact moment when things began to turn for a franchise that was floundering in the early 2000s. Incredibly, you could even feel it happening at the time.
Even more incredible – check out my archive! — this article is not about Patrick Mahomes. The arrival of the promised quarterback was the cornerstone of the Chiefs’ resurgence, but the franchise’s revival predates it by years. Mahomes is even more a manifestation of the greatness of the Chiefs than his source. If the Chiefs become the NFL’s next great dynasty, we’ll remember January 7, 2013, when it all began.
It was on this day that they welcomed Andy Reid as their new head coach. And nothing has changed since then.
It’s no exaggeration to say that the worst time in Chiefs history was the moment before they hired Reed. From 1989, when club owner Lamar Hunt hired Marty Schottenheimer as head coach, to 2006, the Chiefs were a consistently competitive, albeit serpentine, organization: they had just four losing records in 18 years and went to nine playoffs. (They have also lost six consecutive playoff games since 1993, including home first-round losses in 1995, 1997 and 2003). once every six seasons. It wasn’t for lack of effort: after the Chiefs went 6-26 in 2007-08, Chiefs general manager Carl Peterson retired after 20 years, and Clark Hunt, who succeeded his father as owner of the team after Lamar’s death in 2006 – set off in search of the best personnel officer in the sport in order to rebuild his franchise from scratch. He believed he had found this man in New England. His name was Scott Pioli, he was Bill Belichick’s right-hand man and had already led three Super Bowl winning teams.
In Hunt’s defense, this was 2009, so it wasn’t yet clear that Belichick had seemingly placed a curse on everyone who worked for the Patriots the moment they walked out the door. Pioli was a complete disaster as CEO of the Chiefs, and by his fourth season, the organization was in disarray. The season started with expose V Kansas City Star this exposed dysfunction and it ended 2-14 after the Chiefs trailed an unfathomable 214 points. (Since then, no team in the NFL has lost more points in a season.) Between them, linebacker Jovan Belcher killed his girlfriend (who was the mother of his newborn daughter) and then committed suicide in the Chiefs’ parking lot. yards from where Pioli and head coach Romeo Krennel were trying to coax him. It was an unthinkable tragedy in the midst of the worst season in franchise history, an event that could shake the foundations of even the most established organizations.
FiveThirtyEight has a system known as “Elo rating” to rate overall quality at any given moment. While this is an admittedly rough measure, it does suggest that the lowest mark the Chiefs have ever earned with this system followed their last game of the 2012 season. The franchise was broken and it seemed like it was cursed. It was into the void of this gaping mouth that Andy Reed was asked to enter.
Reid had just completed a hugely successful 14-year career as the head coach of the Philadelphia Eagles; after going 5-11 in 1999, his first season, his Eagles won 11 games or more in each of the next five years, featured in four consecutive NFC Championship games from 2001 to 2004, and finally reached (and lost) the Super Bowl after the 2004 season. The Eagles made the playoffs nine times in 11 years, but they dropped to .500 in 2011, and Reed had his terrible year in 2012. His son Garrett, who had battled drug addiction for years, was found dead of a heroin overdose in his dorm room at the Eagles training camp. The Eagles finished that season 4–12, with Reed being fired hours after the season ended.
To Clark Hunt’s great credit, he immediately relentlessly pursued Reid. Hunt flew to Philadelphia to offer Reid a job and refused to let Reid, who was also reportedly being harassed by the Arizona Cardinals, off his plane until he got a yes. As a Chiefs fan, I have long been confused and frustrated by the dichotomy between the apparent quality of possession (high) and the team’s ability to reach the Super Bowl (low) – after that, Lamar Hunt could not win the AFC championship trophy. was literally named after him in 1983. The Hunts were members of the NFL’s royal family, and yet their team too often played like a bunch of serfs. But by going all-in to hire Reid, Clark Hunt finally lived up to the adage that the backbone of any championship organization is an owner who cares more about the next win than the next dollar.
Still, even the most optimistic Chiefs fan knew that as good as Reed and new general manager John Dorsey, who was fired from the Packers at the same time to replace Pioli, was not going to be a quick decision. You don’t turn the worst team in the NFL into an opponent overnight.
But Reid and Dorsey turned the Chiefs into a contender, seemingly overnight. Almost immediately, they traded for veteran quarterback Alex Smith and began to rebuild the roster: they used the number. 1st pick in 2013 draft for left tackle Eric Fisher, who defended Mahomes’ blind side when the Chiefs won the Super Bowl seven years later, and third-round pick for Travis Kelsey, who created the Hall of Recap in ten years in Kansas City glory. (In later years, the Chiefs continued to select elite players such as defenseman Dee Ford, cornerback Marcus Peters, center Mitch Morse, and wide receiver Tyreke Hill; while none of these players remained with the Chiefs today, they helped shore up a depleted squad. . around Smith and set the Chiefs up for success when Mahomes arrived.)
The Andy Reed era began in 2013 with nine consecutive wins en route to an 11-5 record and a playoff berth (which they lost to a 28-point lead to the Colts because they were still the Chiefs and it took a long time). time to overcome). The next year, the Chiefs went 9-7 and missed the playoffs by one game, and they…