In September 2013, Andy Reid brought the Kansas City Chiefs to Philadelphia for the third game of the second act of his coaching career. That was an emotionally charged meeting, billed as Reid’s return to the place he coached for 14 years.
Time has a way of healing wounds, and both sides are in different places. Reid has had a better post-firing life than his former employers, who have not won a playoff game since Reid departed and are now on their second coach – one that came with Reid’s recommendation. Meanwhile, Reid has had four winning seasons in Kansas City, three playoff appearances, and is just a week removed from a dominating win over the defending Super Bowl champions. So don’t expect much bitterness from Reid. Life is good in Kansas City.
“Well, I love the city of Philadelphia, first of all,” Reid said. “I love my time there with the organization. I still talk to Jeffrey [Lurie] and Howie [Roseman] and Doug [Pederson] and a lot of the people there. You don’t stay some place for 14 years and not have a fondness for a place. And I always wish them the best, except when we play them. So it’s one of those deals. But I’m always pulling for the Eagles. Always pulling for them.”
Reid inherited a roster in Kansas City with more talent than their 2-14 2012 campaign would suggest. But he’s clearly made them better, reaching the playoffs in three of the past four years. Reid didn’t identify many differences with how he’s handled the job in Kansas City compared to Philadelphia.
“Not much, other than [the media],” Reid said. “You guys were rough, you know that? You’ve really calloused me over the years.”
The difference between this game and the first meeting is the coach on the opposing sideline. Pederson is a Reid protégé, coming to the Eagles after three years as the Chiefs’ offensive coordinator. Before Kansas City, he worked under Reid in Philadelphia. And he played for Reid in Green Bay and Philadelphia.
“He can bring the player perspective to it,” Reid said of Pederson. “He knows when to crank on the guys, he knows when the pull off. He wants his guys to make sure they enjoy the game. So that goes a long way. I’ll tell you that side of being a player, being in the locker room, he understands it.”
Reid said during the first three years in Kansas City, he spent more time around Pederson than anyone else. That’s because the two were putting the offensive gameplan together. Now that the two are on opposing sidelines, Pederson said he knows Reid “wants to kick my tail and I want to kick his.”
Reid usually does that to his former assistants. He has won eight of 11 games against his assistant coaches who became head coaches. The Chiefs are favored to make it nine in 12 meetings.
“Obviously, it’s a tough task,” Pederson said. “His teams are always well-prepared. They’re a disciplined group. You see that, very consistent in how they go about their preparation during the week. And listen, it just comes down to the preparation and hard work for them, and that’s what he’s done in his past. And I think sometimes, in my position, I don’t want to put any added stress or pressure on myself to go perform. I have to continue to study the tape and plan accordingly and then put our team in positions, again, just like last week. It’s that chess match and moving our pieces against their pieces. And for me, I just can’t get caught up in that record. I can’t get caught up on who’s on the other sideline, things of that nature. I just have to focus on my job and getting our team ready to play.”
The reason Pederson thinks Reid has had this success is that Reid spends the necessary time game-planning. Reid always has been praised for his Monday-to-Saturday coaching ability, and Pederson said Reid doesn’t take shortcuts and puts time into presenting the game plan to players.
That’s why Reid was considered one of the NFL’s best coaches even before going to Kansas City in 2013. He has more wins than any coach in Eagles history, and that mark might remain for a long time. One day, Reid will be enshrined into the team’s Hall of Fame. He said he’s not focused on that while in Kansas City, but admitted it would be an honor.
“There’s some pretty good people in that Hall of Fame,” Reid said.