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Grading Andy Reid: Chiefs coach pulls an A vs. the Houston Texans

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Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports

Kansas City Chiefs coach Andy Reid is one of the most successful coaches in the history of the NFL but his coaching style has left many fans not only ecstatic but also befuddled and downright upset. Offensively, Reid is touted as an innovative and brilliant coaching mind. At the same time, he has also been known to make head scratching game management decisions.

What if we were to create a grading scale to evaluate Reid and use it throughout the season? It may shed some insight into some of Reid's decisions. If we do this every week, we could see some trends come up. Or we could see nothing. However, it's worth a shot to try and track.

Since this is the first week of the Reid evaluation, let's lay down the grading scale. As a professor at a major university, I do have some grading skills but there is always room for improvement. In fact, I'll go ahead and be honest and say I've never graded an NFL head coach before - let alone a potential HOF head coach. So take these grades as they are and let's have a little fun evaluating Reid.

Here is the grading scale we will be using this season. (If we find flaws / improvements with our grading scale as the season goes we can adjust.)

Grading Criteria Points Possible
Player Preparedness/Discipline 10
Challenges 15
Offensive Play Calling 25
Game Altering Decisions 30
Clock Management 20

There are a total of 100 points possible per game (how convenient.) Let's describe these in a little more detail.

Player Preparedness / Discipline: Some games the players come out flat (see: Titans, 2014 season opener). Some games players commit a number of sloppy penalties. These are all items that would fall under the Player Preparedness / Discipline criteria.

Challenges: This is simply an evaluation of Reid's success with coaching challenges.

Offensive Play Calling: Since Reid is calling the plays on offense, this is a very important factor for his coaching grade. Some games Reid seems to be on fire with his calls (see: Texans, first half) and other games the offense appears to have a hard time getting the offense to put points on the board  (see: Texans, second half). Compared to other head coaches Reid is one of the best offensive play callers but the grade for the offensive play calling will be based on Reid's ability and results.

Game Altering Decisions: These include decisions that seriously alter the outcome of the game. The "big" plays each game. Choosing to punt on 4th and 1 instead of going for it, choosing to go for two instead of the extra point or deciding to kick a long field goal would all fall under this criteria.

Clock Management: Clock management has been one of Reid's biggest criticisms throughout his career. This grade will be based on his use of time outs.

Now that we have an explanation of all the grading criteria, let's take a look at how Reid performed in Week 1 against the Texans.

Player Preparedness/Discipline

The Chiefs came out focused and well prepared for this game. Here are factors that show they were well prepared:

  1. The Chiefs did not turn the ball over.
  2. The Chiefs committed two penalties. One of the penalties was a fairly common pass interference The other was a holding call on Jah Reid who was facing JJ Watt - you're excused Jah, can't say we blame you. There were no sloppy penalties, false starts, offsides, etc. The team was prepared.
  3. The entire team came out passionately and played with visible high effort on both offense and defense.
  4. They also executed the offense well enough for a three score lead and appeared highly focused.
Player Preparedness/Discipline Grade: 10/10

Challenges

Reid made one challenge in the game on a play where Derrick Johnson tackled Ryan Mallett right at the first down marker. Reid ultimately lost the challenge. It was a bit of an awkward play where Mallett appeared to be entering a sideways slide. The play was on a third down and overturning the ruling could have been a very good outcome for the Chiefs so it was worth the risk. It was a good risk but Reid lost the challenge so some points had to be taken off.

Challenges Grade:  12/15

Offensive Play Calling

Reid was dialing them up in the first half as the offense looked like world beaters against a very good Houston defense. The 42 yard pass play to Kelce (loved the Falcon punch celebration by the way) was a brilliant play call that left Kelce unbelievably wide open. The second half was a completely different story however. The offense focused on running the ball and even though the score did get a tiny bit close, the Chiefs were unable to score in the second half. There are a couple of reasons why this may have happened: 1) Reid was content with just running down the clock and not piling up on the score and 2) Reid didn't want to tip any more plays than he had to before a big game and short week against Denver. All things considered, there was a brilliant first half and a 'safe' second half that didn't output any points - so Reid has to be deducted some for the second half.

Offensive Play Calling Grade:  20/25

Game Altering Decisions

Below are a list of key plays in the game where Reid could have made a number of decisions as well as the outcomes. As the season progresses we will total these decisions and see if we can't find consistencies in Reid's decision making.
  • 4th and 8 - 1st Quarter 11:23 on the HOU 43: This is borderline go for it land. Going for a 4th and 8 would have not been a great decision. Another alternative would have been a 60 yard field goal by Santos - also not a great idea. Ultimately Colquitt made an amazing punt and the ball was downed at the seven yard line. Reid made the right decision.
  • Extra Point - 1st Quarter 10:27.  With the Chiefs leading 6 - 0 Reid goes for the extra point and not the 2 point conversion. Makes sense.
  • Extra Point - 1st Quarter 4:39. With the Chiefs leading 13 - 0 Reid once again makes the right decision by kicking the extra point.
  • 4th and 7 - 2nd Quarter 10:29. The Chiefs led 14 - 6 and the FG was a 27 yard attempt. This is also an easy decision for Reid. The Chiefs made the FG to push it to two scores.
  • 4th and 8 - 2nd Quarter 6:25. Leading 17 - 6 Reid chose to attempt a 48 yard FG. Santos makes the kick. This was once again an easy decision.
  • Extra Point - 2nd Quarter 5:01. Up 26 - 6 the extra point attempt is a no-brainer.
  • 4th and 7 - 3rd Quarter 8:25 on the HOU 37:  This is once again a play in go for it land. Reid chose to punt the ball over going for it. He also chose to punt the ball over a 54 yard FG attempt by Santos. Colquitt punted and put the ball in a good spot but the play ended in a touchback. Choosing not to go with the FG may show Reid has limited faith in Santos (who did miss a 51-yard FG later), or maybe he didn't want to take a risk with a 27 - 9 lead.
  • 4th and 1 - 4th Quarter 6:16 on the HOU 32. With the score 27 - 9 Reid chose to go with the FG. In a closer game Reid may have chosen to go for it. Ultimately Santos missed the FG. If Reid chooses to go for it and converted it would have put Houston in a bad spot. We'll take off a point for this because the results were not good.
  • 4th and 1 - 4th Quarter 2:55 on the KAN 44. Once again Reid chose to be conservative with a 27 - 17 lead and punted the ball. Outcome: Houston starts on their own 10 yard line. Good decision with that defense and that lead.
Game Altering Decisions Grade:  29/30

Clock Management

The Chiefs used three time outs on defense. Most of these were likely used for getting the right call on defense. The other time out was called on the offensive side of the ball. Reid chose to run the clock down with a number of run plays in the second half. Overall there were no issues with Reid's clock management.

Clock Management Grade:  20/20

Overall Grade:  91/100

Reid did great in the first week against Houston. He gets an A according to our grading scale. Hopefully the trend continues against Denver.

Below are some more statistics that we will compile throughout the year to get an idea of Reid's decision making process. As the data grows we'll use more visually pleasing graphs.

A few notes:
  • 'Go for it' represents going for it on a 4th and short in no mans land (anywhere between the opposing 30 and 45-yard line).
  • Only punts where the field goal was between 50 to 55 yards were considered.
  • FGs less than 50 yards are assumed to be taken.
  • A two point conversion should be taken in instances where two points puts the team within a single score, or above a single score. For instance if the Chiefs are up by one point and have the choice for an extra point or to go for two - the score should dictate the Chiefs to go for two.

Season Stats

Chose to 'go for it' - 0 out of 2 opportunities
Chose to 'go for it' with the lead - 0 out of 2 opportunities
Chose to 'go for it' while behind or tied - 0 out of 0 opportunities
Chose to punt within FG range - 1 out of 2 opportunities
Chose to punt within FG range with the lead - 1 out of 2 opportunities
Chose to punt within FG range without the lead - 0 out of 0 opportunities.
Chose to kick 50+ yard FG vs punt - 1 out of 2 opportunities
Chose to kick 50+ yard FG vs punt with the lead - 1 out of 2 opportunities
Chose to kick 50+ yard FG vs punt without the lead - 0 out of 0 opportunities
Chose to go for two when the score dictated to do so - 0 out of 0 opportunities