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Making the cases for the greatest head coaches in Chiefs history

Reid certainly has the resume — but two other coaching legends have cases, too.

Super Bowl LIV - San Francisco 49ers v Kansas City Chiefs Photo by Focus on Sport/Getty Images

In his 21st season as an NFL head coach, Kansas City Chiefs head coach Andy Reid finally achieved his ultimate goal: winning his first Super Bowl championship. His legendary career has now firmly cemented him as an all-time great head coach — and the impact he’s had over his 28 years in the NFL should eventually be commemorated with a bust in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

With recency bias in full effect for some fans, Reid might have cemented another title during his 2020 championship run: the greatest head coach in Chiefs history.

In the week following the Super Bowl win, I was one of those fans:

Well, this is me backtracking. There is absolutely a debate on the topic. There are two other candidates who provide competition for the top spot in franchise history.

Starting with Reid, I looked at three Chiefs head coaches who have a case to be the best of all time:

Andy Reid

Super Bowl LIV - San Francisco 49ers v Kansas City Chiefs Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images
  • Seven seasons in Kansas City (122 total games)
  • Average regular-season record: 11-5
  • 68.8% regular-season win percentage
  • Seven winning seasons
  • Six postseason appearances
  • Four AFC West titles
  • 50% postseason win percentage
  • Two AFC title games
  • One Super Bowl ring

The case for Reid: It starts with the consistency. Before you can think about winning the Lombardi trophy, you have to earn your way into the postseason. Reid has gotten Kansas City into the playoffs in all but one year — and they still finished with a 9-7 record in that 2014 season. The consistency has also led to the team’s dominance of the division. After finishing out of first place during his first three years, Reid has won the AFC West in four consecutive seasons. Since 2015, he has an unbelievable 27-3 record against division rivals.

The case against Reid: Longevity should be factored into this debate. Compared to the other two candidates, Reid hasn’t had a long stay in Kansas City. Yes, he won a Super Bowl, but so did another candidate on this list. He also had some ugly home losses in prior playoff runs. He should get credit for developing Patrick Mahomes — possibly the greatest quarterback talent ever — but the star gunslinger may have also covered some of Reid’s blemishes.

Marty Schottenheimer

Kansas City Chiefs Photo by Focus on Sport/Getty Images
  • 10 seasons in Kansas City (170 total games)
  • Average regular-season record: 10.1 - 5.8
  • 63.1% regular-season win percentage
  • Nine winning seasons
  • Seven postseason appearances
  • Three AFC West titles
  • 30% postseason win percentage
  • One AFC title game

The case for Schottenheimer: It may be more of an intangible, but there is no downplaying the impact Schottenheimer had on Arrowhead Stadium becoming a place where opponents were terrorized. He won 77.5% of his regular-season home games, finishing two regular seasons undefeated in Arrowhead. His run-heavy, defensively-tough game plans needed crowd noise to affect opposing offenses. He was a consistent winner in general — but he made sure his team knew they had to beat the Oakland Raiders. As coach of the Chiefs, Schottenheimer finished with an 18-3 record against the Raiders.

The case against Schottenheimer: If you winced when I mentioned his record in home games, I understand. You can’t think of that without remembering Schottenheimer’s heartbreaking postseason losses in Arrowhead. The failure to reach a Super Bowl in the very promising 1995 and 1997 seasons that ended with home playoff losses is all that needs to be said for the case against Schottenheimer — unless you want to mention that he was unable to find a franchise quarterback during his tenure.

Hank Stram

Kansas City Chiefs Photo by Focus on Sport/Getty Images
  • 15 seasons in Dallas/Kansas City (218 total games)
  • Average regular-season record: 8.3 - 5.1
  • 62% regular-season win percentage
  • 11 winning seasons
  • Five postseason appearances
  • Four division titles
  • 63% postseason win percentage
  • Three AFL Championships
  • Two Super Bowl appearances
  • One Super Bowl ring

The case for Stram: The number of championships Stram won with the Chiefs makes a strong case. While there were obviously fewer teams in the 1960s, three league championships and a Super Bowl victory in a seven-year span is still impressive. He developed the Chiefs into one of the AFL’s elite teams, turning quarterback Len Dawson — an NFL bust — into a Pro Football Hall of Famer.

The case against Stram: His Kansas City career may have gone on too long. The three years after his last postseason appearance may have brought down the significance of the 10-season run leading to Super Bowl IV. The lack of teams in the 1960s may also have hurt Stram; he had six winning seasons that didn’t result in a postseason berth. That — plus the shortened playoff bracket — prevented Stram from padding his postseason resume.


The final verdict: I have officially changed my mind. After looking into these three great coaches, I couldn’t help but be swayed by Hall of Famer Hank Stram’s resume. Not only was he part of the process in bringing professional football to Kansas City, but he’s also responsible for giving legendary players — like Dawson, Bobby Bell, Willie Lanier, and so many others — the opportunity to become all-time greats.

He also won three league championships. For me, that’s the final point in the debate. While Reid is probably one season away from ending this conversation for good, I believe that for now, Stram still deserves the title.

Poll

Which Chiefs head coach is the greatest in franchise history?

This poll is closed

  • 41%
    Hank Stram
    (434 votes)
  • 3%
    Marty Schottenheimer
    (33 votes)
  • 54%
    Andy Reid
    (573 votes)
  • 0%
    Someone else
    (7 votes)
1047 votes total Vote Now

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