Chiefs credit ‘relaxed, rock-solid’ coach Andy Reid for leading the way – The Athletic

By Vic TafurFeb 10, 2024

Follow live coverage of Super Bowl LVIII between San Francisco 49ers and Kansas City Chiefs

LAS VEGAS — At some point Sunday afternoon, Andy Reid will look over to one of his Kansas City Chiefs assistants and remark how quickly the players are moving.

“It’s crazy how in the playoffs every game is a little faster the higher you go up in the playoffs,” Reid said Thursday.

Reid’s path to a possible fourth Super Bowl ring (third as head coach) has not sped up too much. It’s been a slow, deliberate path this season to Sunday’s game against the San Francisco 49ers. Actually, since Reid arrived in Kansas City.

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“I have been here (11) years with him and he’s never got off track,” tight end Travis Kelce said Thursday. “This has been a constant incline of greatness, and I have been very fortunate to have him overlooking my career and helping me out both on and off the field, as a professional and as a human being.

“I owe so much to him and his success, and to be able to build this thing like this.”

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Reid is ready for his rematch with coach Kyle Shanahan after Reid and the Chiefs beat the 49ers 31-20 in the Super Bowl four years ago. This will be the fourth rematch of Super Bowl coaches, and the loser has never gotten revenge.

Of course, those losing teams didn’t have offenses with Christian McCaffrey, Deebo Samuel, George Kittle and Trent Williams, four of the best players in the league.

“The 49ers have a lot of talent,” Reid said. “They’re a better team than the one we played (in 2020).”

Reid, 65, is trying to become the fifth person to win three Super Bowls as a head coach. He won with the Chiefs in the 2019 and 2022 seasons (as well as when he was an assistant with the Packers in the 1996 season).

Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce and coach Andy Reid celebrate after winning Super Bowl LVII against the Eagles last February. (Mark J. Rebilas / USA Today)

Reid couldn’t win the big one when he was younger. He led the Eagles to nine playoff appearances and five NFC Championship Games in 13 years but lost his only Super Bowl appearance with them before leaving in 2012 when his contract was not renewed.

There are some similarities to Reid then and Shanahan now. Shanahan, 44, is 2-2 in NFC Championship Games and 0-2 in Super Bowls — the loss with the 49ers and the blown lead as Falcons offensive coordinator in Super Bowl LI seven years ago.

“He’s a great football coach,” Reid said of Shanahan. “Great guy, great football coach. His dad (Mike) was a great football coach, likewise, so he grew up around it. He’s got a heck of a feel for the game, both sides of the ball, special teams. There’s a reason why (the 49ers are) here, and he’s a big part of that.

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“Listen, he’s a great offensive mind. But he also is a great head coach. So he does — he knows everything.”

While trading up to draft Patrick Mahomes in 2017 was a big part of the Chiefs’ rise, Reid also developed him, called innovative plays and led the entire roster with a steady hand

“(Reid) hasn’t really changed much,” Kelce said. “He does a great job of channeling the focus and the energy and the challenges.”

His approach to the Super Bowl also hasn’t changed: Work hard on a creative script of plays — the Chiefs will save certain plays for the postseason — oversee some chippy practices before the players take their foot off the pedal Friday and enjoy their families Saturday.

“Coach Reid is a very relaxed, rock-solid guy,” defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo said Thursday. “He wants guys to let their personalities show, he wants us to be us. Don’t change. Keep the same routine. Do what you’ve been doing the prior 20 weeks.”

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As for the offensive play calling, Reid has had total control and has been hands-off a couple of years in his time as a head coach. Mahomes guessed that right now Reid owns about 51 percent of the responsibility.

“It’s a unique dynamic,” offensive coordinator Matt Nagy said Thursday. “It’s fascinating. Every year, it could be slightly different. Coach does such a great job of calling plays, but he also does a phenomenal job throughout the week of being able to allow the coaches to have input with the game plan and talk with each coach about what plays they like. ‘How would you rank these five plays?’

“He takes all that and spins it together.”

And then Reid deflects the credit.

“I have been blessed in my career to have a lot of great players,” Reid said Thursday. “They make your plays look good.”

Niners cornerback Charvarius Ward played for the Chiefs when they beat Shanahan’s crew for the Lombardi Trophy four years ago. Now he’s on the other side and best able to list the two coaches’ similarities.

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“They’re both really smart, great offensive minds,” Ward said Wednesday. “Great play callers. Great innovators. They know a defense’s weaknesses and they know who to target on defense.”

Reid and Shanahan couldn’t be more different personality-wise.

“Coach Reid, he’s quiet, but he’s also the life of the party and the funny guy at the same time,” Ward said. “He cracks a lot of jokes, tells a lot of stories. He talks a little bit more than coach Shanahan.

“Coach Shanahan is a little more laid back, more reserved, but both are great coaches.”

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Reid said he is better able to handle the game’s ups and downs — there were more than usual this season for the Chiefs — than he was when he was Shanahan’s age.

“You try and cover every situation possible with your players,” Reid said. “The ones you don’t get to, hopefully you’ve narrowed it down and it fits somewhere in there or is close to something that you’ve thought about. …

“Maybe when I had more red hair — or any red hair — I had more of a temper, but in this world, I just try to get it done and stay cool. If I am going crazy, then everyone is going crazy and that’s not good.”

Shanahan knows he is up against it Sunday.

“I think the quarterback is as hard to beat as anyone who’s ever played the game,” Shanahan said Thursday. “The things he can do from a talent standpoint and then you pair that up with his scheme with Andy, how Andy runs a team with Mahomes’ experience now …

“That’s why no matter what type of game it is, whether it’s low-scoring, high-scoring, whether they’re struggling or not, they always have a chance.”

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(Top photo: Rob Carr / Getty Images)

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Vic Tafur is a senior writer for The Athletic covering the Las Vegas Raiders and the NFL. He previously worked for 12 years at the San Francisco Chronicle and also writes about boxing and mixed martial arts. Follow Vic on Twitter @VicTafur

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