Now in his sixth consecutive AFC Title game, Andy Reid is making up for lost time after struggling to get over the hump during his decade and change in Philadelphia. The venerable Chiefs coach is a virtuoso play caller who has shepherded Kansas City to three Super Bowls, two Lombardi Trophies and has them on the verge of a fourth Super Bowl. Patrick Mahomes is chasing his own Brady ghosts, but Reid is the brains behind the operation. It took a while, but as Bill Belichick lobbies for a new job where he’ll have to develop a quarterback, Reid has finally constructed his football utopia.
The Chiefs offense may have entered its McNabb years. Kansas City’s divestment in receivers through the draft bears a resemblance to Philadelphia fielding practice-squad bodies at receiver for years. Mahomes is throwing to an assortment of stone-handed receivers, a rookie in Rashee Rice and a sunsetting Travis Kelce. This time, Reid has a quarterback capable of uplifting their makeshift offense.
Reid is a diamond who has shined on the field through multiple generations. From Don Shula to Belichick, Vince Lombardi, Bill Walsh, Jimmy Johnson, Chuck Noll, John Madden and Tom Landry, dynasties used to be a young coach’s game.
Belichick began winning Super Bowls with Brady when he had 51 trips around the sun on his ledger. On the verge of his 72nd birthday, it remains to be seen if Belichick has it in him to build another winner. Pete Carroll is the Patron Saint of Late Bloomers, getting canned by the Patriots and being hired as the last option for a dying USC program as he kicked off his early 50s. Reid won his first ring with Mahomes four years ago at the age of 61.
Now, he’s the head of a football chimera in his 60s. Most coaches’ careers peak early. For comparison’s sake, Noll coached the Steelers before his 50th birthday. Don Shula is the closest Reid analogue, reaching Super Bowls in three consecutive years in his early 40s and spearheading the first undefeated season at the age of 42 with the ‘72 Dolphins. At age of 50, Shula reinvented himself to fit the strengths of Dan Marino. But even he retired without winning another Super Bowl before he was eligible to collect social security benefits.
Landry developed the 4-3 defense while he was still in his 30s and won the bulk of Dallas’ NFL Championships, Super Bowls and NFC title before he’d turned 60. Vince Lombardi passed away at the age of 57 before he could develop any momentum in his second stop with Washington, but he did enough to have the Super Bowl’s prestigious trophy be named after him. Joe Gibbs was a key stakeholder in the advent of the Air Coryell offense in his 30s, then retired the first time with three Super Bowls on his resume at the age of 52. Bill Walsh is the oldest coaching gem, taking over the Niners at the age of 48, then won four titles over the course of a decade.
Reid, 65, could theoretically keep winning into his 70s. Over in a different league, Greg Popovich has been rejuvenated after the San Antonio Spurs drafted Victor Wembanyama. Mahomes has been equally instrumental to Reid’s legacy. His coaching prime is surpassing Landry levels of longevity and Mahomes has emerged as the golden ticket who can push him into the Belichick tier
Place Reid in a pickle and he’ll scheme his way out. Sure, he’s had some game management miscues over the years, but his aptitude for crafting explosive offenses outweighs his defects. Belichick has a chance to top the all-time wins list, but Reid is nipping at his heels. Reid is 44 victories behind Belichick in the regular-season win column. Including the postseason, Belichick’s margin over Reid extends to 51 wins, but Mahomes and Reid are gaining ground quickly.
Reid already has one advantage over Belichick: He’s never failed at any stop as a head coach. His only losing seasons were a 5-11 campaign during his inaugural season at the helm of Philadelphia and his 4-12 post-Dream Team debacle.
At two stops, he’s accumulated winning percentages above 60 percent and become the most revered coach in both franchises’ histories. Belichick still has a failed tenure in Cleveland on his resume, and the four post-Brady seasons he endured muddle his legacy. Both Reid and Belichick are averaging a touch more than 11 wins a season, but the latter has coached four more seasons and is six years older. Reid also has his golden ticket to a late career surge.
By then, Reid could be the first septuagenarian head coach of a Super Bowl champion and continue making an assault on the record books and Belichick’s legacy.
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