In 2022, Kansas City Chiefs head coach Andy Reid begins his 10th season with the team. After 14 years with the Philadelphia Eagles, Reid accepted the challenge of turning the Chiefs around, bringing them from having the league's worst record to being perennial Super Bowl contenders.
With 23 seasons as a head coach behind him, Reid is ranked fifth in career wins with 233 — one of seven NFL coaches who have passed 200 victories. But he has won Coach of the Year honors only once: after leading the 2002 Eagles to a 12-4 record and a division title.
Playoff wins aren't a factor in Coach of the Year honors, but Andy Reid is starting to pile them up. Here's a stat that I couldn't believe: in the 44 years between 1969's Super Bowl victory and the 2013 season, Kansas City had won only three playoff games. Since Reid took over, the Chiefs have had nine playoff wins. It's hard to overlook that.
But for all that Reid has accomplished in Kansas City, he has never finished better than second in the Coach of the Year voting.
- Even after turning the 2-14 Chiefs into an 11-5 playoff team, Reid did not win in 2013. That honor went to his former assistant Ron Rivera for his efforts with the Carolina Panthers.
- Reid was also passed over in 2015 — when Rivera won again after taking his Panthers to 15-1.
- In 2018 — as quarterback Patrick Mahomes became the new face of NFL highlight packages — Reid took finished fourth to another former assistant: Chicago Bears head coach Matt Nagy.
For 2022, DraftKings Sportsbook lists Reid (along with Rivera, the Tennessee Titans' Matt Vrabel, the Baltimore Ravens' John Harbaugh, the Arizona Cardinals' Kliff Kingsbury and the Green Bay Packers' Matt Lafleur) with only the 18th-best chance to win the honor. (The Los Angeles Chargers' Brandon Staley is ranked first at +1400, followed by the Denver Broncos' Nathaniel Hackett and the Miami Dolphins' Mike McDaniel at +1600, three others at +1800 and 11 more at +2000. Reid and the others are listed at +2500).
But I believe this season is setting up to be the year that Reid should be considered a favorite. Here's why.
1. Roster turnover
Coaches often win the award after taking a bottom-five team and making them a playoff contender — usually by turning over the roster and getting key contributions from the remaining veterans.
While the Chiefs are obviously not a bottom-five team, they will see plenty of turnover in the coming season.
Running back Darrel Williams signed with the Cardinals after gaining 1,010 yards from scrimmage last season. Secondary playmakers Tyrann Mathieu and Charvarius Ward left for bigger deals. All-Pro wide receiver Tyreek Hill — along with Demarcus Robinson and Byron Pringle — are all on different teams.
So the snaps that need to be replaced aren't only from back-of-the-roster players. Instead, many are from key contributors. Considering that it is a team that recently touted "running it back" as its strategy — bringing back 20 of 22 Super Bowl starters — Kansas City will experience a high level of turnover in the middle of a championship window. All in all, the Chiefs will be replacing nearly 50% of the offensive production (along with 50% of the defensive production) in the same offseason.
This is where Reid is going to shine. The accumulation of new talent is one piece of the offseason, but the more significant part is fitting it all together and having it make sense on the football field. Reid is known as a great teacher who can evolve his scheme from year to year, but he is also an expert at understanding what a player does well — and finding a way to use them in that way. After offseason rankings have put the team closer to being out of the top 10 (rather than solidly in the top 3), the media will no longer be able to say, "the roster is too good for Reid to fail."
2. Strength of schedule
By now, it's been well documented. In 2022, the Chiefs will have the NFL's most challenging schedule.
NEW: NFL strength of schedule for 2022!— Warren Sharp (@SharpFootball) March 31, 2022
5 easiest schedules:
5 hardest schedules:
1-32 with insight & analysis:https://t.co/vsnYUpH4tr
For the Chiefs, this isn't anything new. Winning six straight AFC West titles (let's not ever let that get old) will bring always bring the best from the rest of the AFC.
But the 2022 offseason saw more teams push their chips in, looking to win this year and capitalize on their own championship windows. Division rivals made big trades for players like Russell Wilson, Davante Adams and Khalil Mack.
The AFC West — the best division in the NFL— Pete Sweeney (@pgsween) March 8, 2022
Other AFC contenders were also players in free agency. The Buffalo Bills brought in Von Miller, and the Cleveland Browns gambled on Deshaun Watson — not to mention the AFC champion Cincinnati Bengals, who got better this offseason after embarrassing Kansas City twice in 2021.
The schedule makers didn't provide the Chiefs any favors, either. It will be Week 10 (against the Jacksonville Jaguars) before Kansas City plays a team that didn't have a winning record in 2021. Then the Chiefs will go on to what is arguably the toughest part of the schedule: on the road against Chargers, home versus the Super Bowl champion Los Angeles Rams and then on the road against the Bengals and a motivated Broncos team trying to end its long losing streak against the Chiefs in primetime.
If Reid can get his young talent to play well against this gauntlet, he will have earned Coach of the Year honors.
3. Patrick Mahomes 2.0
The team's star quarterback is actually a positive in Reid's resume for Coach of the Year. Having the league's best quarterback usually gets your name mentioned at voting time, but that just hasn't been the case in the four seasons in which Mahomes has been the starter. Even when Mahomes threw 50 touchdowns and more than 5,000 yards during his 2018 MVP season, Reid was barely even considered.
So why will it be different this year? Because Mahomes is going to go nuclear on the rest of the league.
Another year with his top-5 offensive line — and a sour taste in his mouth from how last season ended — will have Mahomes motivated. If he can gel with the playmakers who were brought in this offseason — and Reid can orchestrate the symphony that is his offense — it will reach new heights that defenses simply won't be able to plan against.
Arrowheadlines: Patrick Mahomes is the ‘scariest’ quarterback going into 2022 https://t.co/HRZEuSuWgl— Arrowhead Pride (@ArrowheadPride) June 25, 2022
I'm not saying there won't be some bumps in the road. Considering the new playmakers (and likely some adjustments in the team's offensive scheme), there will be some. But if Mahomes can elevate his game to a new standard for elite quarterbacks, it's not going to matter.
The bottom line
Oddsmakers (and even Kansas City fans) have become a little numb to Reid's greatness. Many have forgotten what he accomplished in 2013: taking over a lost team with no direction and cultivating it into a powerhouse contender with a target on its back each week. But this season, I believe the pieces are in place for Reid will fully demonstrate why he deserves to be mentioned among the greatest coaches of all time, pulling the strings needed to make his young, inexperienced team rise up against the NFL's best on its journey to another Lombardi trophy.