Thursday, January 3, 2013
Can Andy Reid succeed in Kansas City?
By Dan Graziano
It looks as though the Kansas City Chiefs will be the first of the seven teams that fired their head coaches to hire a new one, and it appears the man they will hire will be former Philadelphia Eagles coach Andy Reid. I know Eagles fans are more interested in reading about Reid's replacement in Philadelphia, but that process appears to have a long way to go yet and I assume there's some residual interest in Reid, so a short post on this is worthwhile before we turn Big Red over to Bill Williamson's blog.
Reid will have a lot going for him in Kansas City. He'll have the No. 1 pick in this year's draft, three Pro Bowlers on defense and one on offense, Jamaal Charles, who's a speedy big-play threat at running back. He goes to a place where the fan base has just as much passion without the same ... (how to put this without offending too many people?) ... "edge." He'll be a fresh voice who commands respect based on his reputation and the success he had in Philadelphia, and his reputation as a coach for whom players enjoy playing is likely to make his transition easy.
But the question is whether he can be successful with the Chiefs, and to answer that we need at least two more bits of information:
1. Who's the quarterback? Shaky quarterback play was the common thread this Black Monday. By and large the coaches who got fired, including Reid, had teams with bad or unreliable performances at quarterback this season. One of those coaches was Kansas City's Romeo Crennel, who found himself bouncing back and forth between Matt Cassel and Brady Quinn. That's the quarterback situation Reid inherits, and it's a bad one. And while the Chiefs do have the No. 1 pick in the draft, there does not appear to be a franchise-level Andrew Luck or Robert Griffin III type to take this year. Can Reid fix Cassel or Quinn? Can he find a solution on the free-agent market, such as Alex Smith or Matt Flynn, and turn that into something? Does he bring Michael Vick along with him? None of the potential solutions is perfect. Each challenge Reid's reputation as a quarterback-maker. And Reid's ability to find and implement the appropriate solution is likely to determine whether he can succeed in his new job.
2. Who's running the defense? Reid's defenses in Philadelphia were at best inconsistent and at worst terrible in the four years since the late Jim Johnson held the job. Reid tried three defensive coordinators in that time, and the problems were evident. Reid's going to need to bring a strong and effective defensive coordinator with him if he's going to succeed as head coach in Kansas City. And if he's looking for innovation, he should leave it in the hands of the coordinator and not the defensive line coach.