On Tuesday, Pro Football Focus’ Eric Eagar published his ranking of the NFL’s head coaches coming into the 2021 season. Not for the first time, Kansas City Chiefs head coach Andy Reid tops his list — followed by John Harbaugh of the Baltimore Ravens, Matt LaFleur of the Green Bay Packers, the Buffalo Bills’ Sean McDermott and the New Orleans Saints’ Sean Payton.
1. Andy Reid, Kansas City Chiefs
Prior to Super Bowl 54 in 2019, I wrote about how Andy Reid was the best head coach in football. Since then, he went on to win his first title, navigated a pandemic offseason, helped his team to a 14-2 record during the 2020 regular season, won a playoff game with his backup quarterback playing the second half and reached the third Super Bowl of his career. Andy Reid’s Chiefs have never gone under their market season win total, and they are again the Super Bowl favorites going into the 2021 regular season. Reid is now the standard by which the rest of the league is evaluated.
Now, he was thoroughly outwitted in Tampa Bay by [defensive coordinator] Todd Bowles in Super Bowl 55 last season, as the debts associated with playing much of the season with a banged-up offensive line, and failing to develop a third option behind Travis Kelce and Tyreek Hill, came due.
But that loss represented the first time the Chiefs fell by multiple scores since 2017 and the first time they failed to score a touchdown since 2014. Long derided as a coach who struggled in the two- and four-minute offenses, and one who was better at winning blowouts than close games, Reid propelled his Chiefs to a 9-1 record in one-score games in 2020, including winning the last seven games of the regular season by one score (not counting Week 17’s game of backups).
With a rebuilt offensive line, and Steve Spagnuolo back to run the defense, look for the Chiefs to flirt with the 12.5 wins they are projected to receive by the market this fall.
Obviously, there’s not much of Eager’s assessment of Reid with which we can take issue. His record since arriving in Kansas City is obvious — and his success since Patrick Mahomes arrived is even more so.
As we so often see, the “he can’t win the big game” narrative only lasts until the big game is won; finally getting his Super Bowl victory in 2019 closed out that narrative. But becoming the only head coach in NFL history to lead two different teams to three consecutive conference championships should cement his place as one of the best ever — even if he never wins another Super Bowl.
But hardly anyone is betting that will happen.